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      Nurturing people in the image of God since 1868.                                                                          POB 397/520 Dry Creek Rd./Smithville, TN

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GIVING THE DEVIL HIS DUE

Somebody noted (with tongue in cheek) that it's invariably the little devil in your neighborhood who starts the fight with your little angel. While little devils may not be hard to find in our neighborhoods, the big devil we read about in the Bible has all but disappeared from serious discussion. Comedian Flip Wilson made us laugh about the devil decades ago when he flippantly dismissed his own devilish behavior with a phrase millions have since repeated with great seriousness: "The devil made me do it." Regarding sin, the Bible truth is that while the devil is always around to help me do it, he does not and cannot make me do it (see James 1: 14). Sophisticated, modem people that we are, millions no longer believe in the devilish devil Jesus identifies in John 8:44 as a murderer and liar and as the father of all the deceit and suffering which saturates our world. Instead, many have come to believe in a new and improved devil, one who is kinder, gentler and user-friendly - not nearly as bad as the Bible makes him out to be. This devil is a red-suited, long-tailed, pitchfork-carrying, homed-headed, easy to identify character who often shows up in cartoons and comedy skits and costume parties. It apparently never occurs to some people that the idea that there is no devil, or that if there is a devil he is not very dangerous, is the devil's own idea! As Pierre Baudelaire said, "The Devil's most beautiful ruse is to convince us he does not exist."

Some humans may not believe the devil exists, but God still does. Jesus acknowledged and warned about the devil (e.g., Matthew 13:39; Luke 8:12). Devil is found 61 times in the King James Version of the New Testament, and Satan occurs 34 times. While men may downplay the devil, the New Testament depicts him as a major spiritual player. Among other things he is described as a liar, deceiver, murderer, ruler of this world and god of this age who is our soul's adversary (John 8:44; 12:31; 1 John 5:19; 1 Peter 5:8). His single-minded ambition is to hinder, ensnare, and destroy lives and souls (I Thessalonians 2:18; 2 Timothy 2:26; Revelation 9:11 [Abaddon means "destruction"]). Men may not give the devil his due, but God one day will. In apocalyptic (symbolic) language, Revelation 20:10 depicts the eventual and final fate of the devil - "The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of f ire and brimstone" where he "will be tormented day and night forever and ever." God's promise is that in the end the devil will get his rightful due for all the wrong he has done.

Dan Gulley
Smithville church of Christ