When The Devil Gets a Bad Rap
In this installment of the series Why Do Bad Things Happen to Good People, we have to deal with some ugly truth. If you missed the previous parts, you might want to go back and catch up.
The devil is bad. That has been thoroughly established. He is the source of all things bad. However, there are many times when he gets a bad rap. WAIT!! Don’t leave yet!! I will explain what I mean by starting with a story.
I remember the first time I went ice skating. I was horrible. I don’t think I am alone in this plight. Most people are horrible at what they have never done before. I was in my teens. That’s awkward enough. It was a youth event for church… need I say more? I strapped on the skates and walked around for a while on the rubber floor, just to look cool. But pretty soon, everybody was out on the ice. Walking around with rubber ankles on a rubber floor all alone… not cool. The moment of revelation came and I edged out onto the ice, holding the wall with an iron grip. It was pitiful. Everyone around me was zipping here and there, spraying each other with the snow they made by stopping real fast (I’ve still never mastered that little trick) and I feel like an idiot. I finally get up the nerve to let go and sure enough, my posterior does its best impression of a Zamboni.
Why do I share this moment of humiliation with you? Because, the devil didn’t push me down. He didn’t trip me. He didn’t do anything. He didn’t have to do anything. My own ignorance of the effects of the laws of gravity and thrust, and of the principles to harness them was all that was necessary to produce the pain in my backside and the embarrassment in my heart. Everyone else on the ice was subject to the same laws, but they didn’t seem to suffer the same fate. Why?
My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children.
In this verse, we see two groups of people. Let’s talk about the first group. They are the ignorant people. How many people are standing in line for government aid, not because the devil is working overtime specifically on them, but because their own choices perpetuate bad results in their lives? How many relationships have ended because we were unaware of the principles that make lasting and meaningful relationships? You get my point. The devil doesn’t necessarily create these circumstances; he just capitalizes on them. What do I mean by “capitalize?” Remember, he is after God in you before He has a chance to work through you. If he can use your own ignorance against you to make you bitter against God, he has accomplished his mission.
The second group of people in this verse are those who reject knowledge when it is offered. In my illustration of ice skating, I would still be a human Zamboni if someone had not come to teach me and if I had rejected the help when it came. How many of those people standing in line for government aid have been offered a different kind of help and refuse to change their behavior to live a better life? How many church people struggle financially because they hear about tithing and refuse to believe the laws that God has established for everyone to live under? How many relationships could have been salvaged if we had not turned on those who were trying to help? How much of the suffering in our lives is not because the devil is so bad, but because we have become just like him, saying in our hearts, “I will be god. Take your rules somewhere else.” These people are in a desperate situation. God cannot work in their lives because they refuse His help. They are prey to the whims of the devil by their own choice.
So the next time something bad happens and you are looking for someone to blame, don’t look up and don’t look down. You have a big role to play in your own life. Step back and take a long look at how you got where you are. Is what you are going through simply a result of your bad choices and ignorance? Have you been warned by someone that these results would occur and you didn’t listen? If so, repent, learn and grow. Then the devil won’t have an opportunity to work in your life the same way again.
Wisdom [is] the principal thing; [therefore] get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding.