Word of the Month

A devilish strategy

September 2006

Satan, the adversary from the beginning, practises a devilish strategy. This was already evident in the Garden of Eden. At that time the serpent in which the Devil was embodied awakened the thought: “Has God indeed said? Are things really the way He told you?” (cf. Genesis 3:1). It was in this manner that he sought to weaken the inner man. Thus the commandment that God had given so clearly and unambiguously was called into question, and its interpretation softened.

When the Lord Jesus was tempted in the wilderness, the Devil proceeded in a similar fashion. He made many suggestions that did not appear to be so fatal at first glance. And yet all of them were aimed at weakening the inner man. Satan said: “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread” (cf. Matthew 4: 3). In so doing he was trying to undermine Jesus’ awareness of Himself as the Messiah. After such a long period of fasting, the Lord must indeed have been very hungry, but He did not go along with the Devil’s game. Instead He distanced Himself from this notion of misusing His power at the Tempter’s suggestion. When Satan showed the Lord all the kingdoms of the world in a moment, he was trying to overwhelm Jesus Christ by the sheer force of the impression and induce the Lord to worship him. But the Son of God did not fall for this trap, as it would have entailed the weakening of His inner being. The Lord did not go along with this either.

In our time there are many influences that could weaken the inner man. The great variety of religious opinions and views has become a veritable marketplace in which everyone can advertise whatever seems right to them. There are no more clear convictions, no more sharp dividing lines between the divine and the human. One of the things that distinguish our time is that earthly matters pressure all of us so massively. There are many sorts of difficulties and problems in our daily lives. We can see this in the employment market, for example. Every day we are inundated with news and occurrences. All these things are conditions that could weaken our inner man. But the Lord wants us to be strong “through His Spirit in the inner man” (cf. Ephesians 3: 16), as Apostle Paul writes. Therefore let us not engage in Satan’s little game. Instead it should be our motto to become strong through the Spirit of God.

It is characteristic of inner strength if someone is at peace and can radiate peace even when his surroundings are restless and torn with strife. That is what set the Lord Jesus apart: everyone else was on edge when He was accused and called to give account, but He remained quiet and said nothing. That is the strength of the inner man. Joy is another hallmark of inner strength. Even when problems arise, when cares and concerns press us, or when we fall into outward distress, our joy is not to diminish. We can rejoice that our names are registered in heaven among the firstborn. We can rejoice with all our hearts that we are secure in the hand of God. That is a joy to which we can hold fast despite all our burdens.

Let us take a moment to see whether we are weak or strong inside!

(From a divine service by the Chief Apostle)