Monday, March 5, 2012

The Satan Combo

“Whomever you forgive anything, so do I. For indeed what I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, has been for you in the presence of Christ, so that we might not be taken advantage of by Satan, for we are not unaware of his purpose.” 2 Corinthians 2: 10-11

We all sin.

And by sin I mean we know what God has commanded, we know that He commands it for our benefit because He loves us, and yet we still freely choose to disobey His command. Why? Because we are tempted and sometimes we give in to the temptations and because our fallen nature tends to be inclined towards sin. In other words, it is easier to sin than to NOT sin.

We know this is true in our hearts and in our own experience of life. Which is harder? To stay silent when someone has made fun of us, or to say a harsh comeback? To get angry when someone cuts in front of us or to give them a sincere smile? To yell and scream at someone or to control our anger? To cheat on the test and get an “A” or to get the “C” we deserve? To put ourselves first or to put others first?

We have to recognize our enemy. Satan is a fallen angel who masquerades as an angel of light, a wolf who comes disguised as a sheep and a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. He does not stop to sleep or to eat, he has spiritual powers at his disposal and he knows how to tempt each of us in ways that are unique to our own weaknesses, personalities and temperaments. But in general, Satan has two big weapons that he uses in combination to tempt us in so many ways.

The first weapon is fear. Not a fear of the dark, his power, or of evil itself. But the fear of missing out, the fear that God couldn’t love us, the fear that God is trying to take away our freedom, the fear that others will have and we won’t, the fear that we won’t be happy, or loved, fear that we will be made a fool or embarrassed. So often, fear is the driving force behind many of the sins we commit. Like Adam and Eve, we are afraid that God does not have our best interests in mind, but that He is trying to hold out on us. And so we reach for the “apple”, we reach for the temptation dangling just out of reach, hoping that it will assuage our fears.

Satan’s second weapon is pride. Not a pride to make us feel good about ourselves, others, our country, our school or our place of business. But a pride that tempts us to think that we can know better than God, that we can become equal with God, or a pride in realizing that our free will gives us the power to limit God’s love and mercy in our own lives—a pride that tells us we do not need God. So many more sins are driven by this temptation of pride. We want to be independent, we want to be free, we want to make our choices and we don’t need ANYONE to teach us, guide us, show us or stop us! We don’t like being told “no” and so in our pride we think, say and do whatever we want, whenever we want. But in the end, like Adam and Eve, we do not become like God, we only become aware of our own nakedness.

If we can become aware that these two temptations of fear and pride are the weapons of choice for Satan, then we will have an easier time fighting and resisting them. The reality is that Satan used these same weapons against Jesus when tempting Him in the desert. Jesus knew Satan and his tactics. He defeated Satan in that desert and Christ defeated Satan for good on the Cross. And the grace He merited for us on the Cross is the weapon we use to fight back Satan’s weapons of fear and pride. With the grace of Jesus won for us by His unconditional love, all fear is driven out of our hearts and with the grace given us by the humility of Jesus, pride loses its power. This Lent, may we turn more and more to Jesus and allow His light to penetrate our hearts, casting out the sin and shadows of fear and pride.

Dear Jesus, please protect me from the fear and pride that Satan attacks me with each day. Help me to be secure in Your love for me. Help me to humble myself to Your will. Bring me more and more into the light of Your Presence each day. Amen.

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