(Thanks to Sterling for inspiration on this one).
I've known Sterling since the day he was born, his family and ours being very close through the years (his dad Mike and I have been friends since the eight grade, and in fact, Mike led me to the Lord in 1975). Sterling is a fine young Christian man, with a beautiful family, and an exemplary heart and life. When I think of him, a moment in a Bible study from many years ago is never far from my mind.
I raised the question, "How does Satan seek to deceive us?" Sterling, about ten at the time, and usually very quiet, raised his hand to respond - "He makes good things seem bad, and bad things seem good." Allow that to sink in for a moment, actually, give it many moments of consideration. The devil makes good things seem bad, and bad things seem good. I believe one could spend hundreds of hours in seminary classes focused on the theological issue of Satan and his involvement in the world without reaching any conclusion better than or even as good as Sterling's youthful expression of wisdom. I'll never forget the moment, and I consider the statement to express the essence of Scriptural teaching concerning our foe.
"Such are false apostles, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ, and no marvel, for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore, it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness" (II Corinthians 11:13-15).
If we could see the devil in physical form, he would not at all resemble the ugly and distorted caricatures depicted in literature, art, and film. He would rather appear beautiful, winsome, and pleasantly appealing in appearance and demeanor. Satan's own fall into rebellion resulted from the lure of his loveliness - "Thy heart was lifted up because of thy beauty" (Ezekiel 28:17). Thus, we must expect his minsters and their message to beckon with beauty. Blatant lies are not the devil's primary stock and trade in seeking to mislead people, especially born again believers in the Lord Jesus Christ. In most cases, we quickly react against obviously unbiblical notions. Subtle lies uttered or written by silvery tongues and syrupy pens, however, may lead us to poisoned wells whose water tastes sweet in the mouth, as it were, but ends up destructively bitter in the belly. If we fail to know and remember the truth of Sterling's powerful expression of Biblical wisdom - again, the devil makes good things seem bad, and bad things seem good - we will inevitably find ourselves poisoned with darkness and deception.
Scripture declares, defines, and delineates the good for us, and the bad. Consistent exposure to its Truth prepares and equips us to accurately know the difference, and to respond in faith and faithfulness. Let us expect the challenge as we seek to live our lives in the true Light of the Lord Jesus. The false light of Satan will have to be recognized and overcome if we are to avoid the deceptions of a subtle foe whose primary weapon consists not of a fearful pitchfork, but rather of seeming beauty, and especially of the silvery tongue and the syrupy pen.
"Strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even to them who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil."
"Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try (test) the spirits, whether they are of God. For many false prophets are gone out into the world."
(I John 4:1)
Weekly Memory Verse
If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.