Sympathy For The Devil

Who is responsible for your struggle and suffering? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

It seems to be common in the South, at least here in America. I would like to think it is just us, but I doubt that. It’s a problem where the devil becomes a whipping boy for everything.

Are you struggling with sin? That’s Satan at work. Are you suffering from a sickness? That’s the devil. Is something distracting you from following Jesus? That’s the devil as well.

At some points, you sometimes wonder if you’re developing sympathy for the devil. Why does he get the credit for everything? Isn’t there more likely another reason why you’re struggling with sin? Maybe that reason could be found if you just went and looked in a mirror.

It’s this idea that we’ve developed that we don’t even realize, but it’s as if we’re saying if the devil would just leave us alone and stop tempting us, we would be living perfect lives. This is not to say the devil cannot tempt, but the way we speak about him, we’ve made him more the counterpart of God who is everywhere and all-powerful as well.

We also don’t help ourselves on the path to holiness. I would love it if I could get to blame the devil whenever I fall into temptation or whenever I am even tempted. If I can do that, then it’s not me. I don’t have to work on anything.

If my neighbor is struggling with sin, I don’t have to want him to repent. I just have to pray the devil will leave him alone. Once the devil has left him alone, then he will come over to the house, we will have tea and cookies, and we will discuss the gospel and he will bend the knee to Jesus immediately.

Keep in mind please, none of this is to say there are no demonic powers at work. I do hold that the devil is a defeated foe, but that he still does have some demons left behind that have been allowed for whatever reason to act on the Earth. I don’t doubt that this is what is going on with certain New Age and psychic type practices.

However, when we do this, we are robbing ourselves of the opportunity to repent and robbing our neighbor as well. Our neighbor doesn’t need to change. It’s just the devil is on his back all the time. Get rid of that and life will go perfect.

Yet in James, we are told temptation comes because of the desires we have within us. If we are struggling with sin, the problem is not the devil. The problem is us. If we blame the devil over and over, then we won’t take responsibility for ourselves.

What about suffering? Even if we went the route of Job and said the devil brought about all of that, the biggest cause of our suffering is again, us. It’s what we tell ourselves about what happens in our lives. Once again, we are the problem.

This is also good news. It means if we accept responsibility, we can begin the work of change. We can move towards holiness. When we stand before God, any sin that we have committed, the devil won’t be able to take responsibility for. It will be us. He can tempt us, but he cannot force us. We choose.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

The Devil Is Not Your Whipping Boy

Who is responsible? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

The church is odd in America. We talk too much about Heaven to the extent that the here and now doesn’t really matter at all. We also at the same time talk way too much about the devil. Whenever someone feels tempted by something, “Well that’s Satan trying to lead you into temptation.” The devil is practically treated as this omnipresent figure that has this huge massive plan and is working it out bit by bit.

The devil is not the opposite of God or the counterpart of God. This isn’t even a contest. There is no way the two are on an even remotely similar playing field.

Reality is that if you are a Christian, you cannot do anything about the devil really. Now I know you can give the Scripture and make him flee in that sense, but you do not control him literally. There is really only one person you control in this world and that is yourself.

If we keep saying to people over and over that the devil is tempting them, even if true, we are robbing them of something important. James also tells us that our temptations come from within and the desires that we have. We undergo temptation because we have a sin nature. Whether the devil is tempting us or not then is irrelevant. We have to fight the battle relying on the Holy Spirit, Scripture, etc.

This is the same kind of struggle we can talk about when it comes to addiction. If you struggle with alcohol and you remove the alcohol from your life to fight the addiction, you may deal with the behavior, but you don’t deal with the root. The addictive personality is still there. The problems that lead you to drinking are still there. Alcohol may be a source of evil for you, but it is not responsible for your suffering. You are. You need to own up to that and say “I am going to work on whatever it is in me that tells me that I need alcohol in my life.”

Many men struggle with porn and unless you move far away and live in a monastery, odds are you will not remove all women from your life and even if you did, you would still need to deal with the addictive personality. If you still want to have a good relationship with a woman, you are going to need to learn what it is in you that makes you want to engage in pornography. What is the lack that you are trying to fill in your life?

Too often in our churches we talk about Satan being the cause of our suffering in our life and our struggle with temptations. That does nothing to help us in our own personal dealings with suffering. We could quote the old saying of “We have met the enemy and he is us.” Even back in the garden, “The devil made me do it” defense was tried. It didn’t work then and it won’t work today. We know that for Adam and Eve, that defense was a way of them blaming someone else for their sin. If we repeat the claim, we are just repeating the sin of Adam and Eve.

Now why do I think we don’t do this? Because it’s just a whole lot easier to blame the devil for what we’re going through. If we go the other way, we have to look at ourselves and examine ourselves and consider all the things that we are doing wrong in our lives. That could take a lot of work. For some, that could even take therapy. We might have to spend a lot of time in repentance. Nah. It’s easier to blame the devil.

It is sure if we go that route, we will never work on the issues inside of us and we will never develop true Christian character. Not only that, instead of talking about the devil doing things to us, we could spend a lot more time talking about how Christ is transforming us. It would certainly be a lot more worthwhile.

We could also learn to rely on our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ and go to them in confession and listen to what they say about our sins. Sometimes they might call us our and we might not like that, but we need to hear it. They can also though speak forgiveness in our lives like we need to hear. We in turn can help them with their struggles. After all, I am someone who is not tempted with alcohol for example, so I can be strong for you when you’re not. You can be strong in areas where I am weak. It’s how we work together.

Christ has dealt with and will deal with the devil. Let’s stop focusing on the devil and work on ourselves.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Maybe It’s Not The Devil

Do we give too much power to the devil? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Yesterday I was at my small group when someone asked me about Preterism. What about Revelation 20? I told them I’m of the opinion that the devil is bound right now. I got asked about all the evil that is still in the world today.

I pointed out that Jesus in the middle of His ministry said the Kingdom of God was among the people and yet He was having to cast out demons. I could have added that Psalm 110:1 says that Jesus sits at the right hand of God until His enemies are made a footstool for His feet. 1 Cor. 15 goes on to say the last enemy is death. John 12 has the prince of this world being cast out.

This got us to talking about temptation which is something I notice regularly happening with Christians. So many Christians I know think that whenever they are tempted, that means the devil has to be working on them. I mean, yeah, that has to be it. It can’t be that you yourself are a fallen and sinful human being. Obviously, if that devil would just leave you alone, you’d be walking around living like a saint entirely as you would never be tempted.

Scripture regularly tells us that our hearts are the problem. The devil can hypothetically tempt us of course, but as the old saying goes, “Don’t lead me into temptation. I can find it by myself.” We don’t really need much encouragement to do evil. We’re pretty good at finding it ourselves.

If we keep blaming the devil, we never get to the real problem. There’s something inside of ourselves that needs fixing. If we look at an external problem as the great cause of our being tempted, we can’t do the self-examination that we should be doing.

It also leads us to some form of pride. This is just how important I am. The devil is going after me to stop me from doing what I should be doing. The problem isn’t us. It’s the devil.

We could also ask what difference does it make? A man sits down at his computer and is tempted to look up internet pornography. Doesn’t he have to pray to stand strong and resist the temptations of the flesh regardless? Why not just work on that to begin with?

When we do this kind of thing, it can lead us to a sort of Christian dualism where we think the devil and God are equal and opposite partners. They’re not. If my eschatology is correct, the devil is bound now and while there is still some demonic activity going on, it is much lower than it was.

I honestly think too many of us in the church are spending way too much time focusing on the devil instead of Jesus. I also, since we’ve said something about eschatology, think we spend more time trying to figure out who the antichrist is than figuring out who the Christ is. Scripture calls us to be sober-minded. There’s no need to be paranoid about the devil every step of the way. Work out the evil in your own heart with the work of the Holy Spirit in you.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

The Redemption Of The Pagan

Should we be concerned if something has a pagan origin? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

It’s that time of year again. Halloween is going to be here in a few weeks and what’s being said about that? Pagan. Just yesterday a friend shared with me that a well-known Christian apologist is sharing a bogus meme from Anton Lavey that I wrote about last year. Unfortunately, there’s no evidence we’ve seen that the quote comes from LaVey, but oh well.

Before too long, it will be Christmas. What will people be saying about that in Christian circles? That’s right. Pagan.

You know, for people who seem to want to be wary of anything that has to do with magic, pagan is thrown around like it’s a magic word to get people to have nothing to do with whatever is in question.

A lot of people do this with the devil as well. Feeling tempted? There’s one reason. Satan! The devil is going after you! The problem with this is that it assumes unknowingly that if the devil was removed from the picture, that you would not have a sinful human nature that would be tempted. You would live your life sin-free if only the devil wasn’t constantly on your shoulder. It’s also interesting that it’s always the devil. It’s never a low-ranking demon or something like that. We practically treat the devil as omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent when we do this.

Many of us know enough of our own nature. If we were absolutely convinced the devil or demons were not tempting us, we would still be tempted. If we want to know why we’re tempted to sin, the devil isn’t the problem. We are the problem. We have a sinful nature.

Let’s start talking though about this problem with paganism. One aspect of Christianity is that God did not come into this world to save sinners, although He certainly did that. He came into this world to save the world. He wanted to redeem everything. The world is His creation. He wants to save it and rule it all.

That includes every day of the calendar. That includes every culture. There is nothing in this world that God does not intend to rule. When we go into a pagan culture, we seek to redeem everything then. As the hymn says, this is our Father’s world.

In fact, if you think that you should avoid anything that has the taint of evil on it supposedly, then look in the mirror. Your origins Biblically aren’t the best. We were once slaves to sin and death reigned over us. Think you can get much better than that? We are now a new creation in Christ.

Redeeming a culture is child’s play to what it took to redeem us. It took the death of the Son of God. When we act like something is irredeemable because of its origins, then we have a hard time with ourselves. Ultimately, I don’t care what a pagan intended to do with XYZ. I care about why I do it.

Christians. Please stop living in fear. Just stop it. Christ came so that you could be victorious. There’s no need to be cowering. Don’t give the devil more power than he has. Christ defeated Him 2,000 years ago. Start living in victory today.

And once again, if you must share something, please check up on it. In fact, just now, my friend Jeff Harshbarger commented on this story. What he did was something odd. He actually sought out the source material himself. (Yeah. Bizarre thought. Who knew?) Here’s the result.

Re: Contact Form Submission from the Church of Satan Website

Administration <>
Today at 1:43 PM
No. Since Satanism is not devil worship, LaVey would not say such a thing.

On 10/8/17, 12:21 PM, “Church of Satan” <> wrote:

Name: Jeff Harshbarger


Comments: Did Dr. LaVey actually make this statement? I’m glad that
Christian parents let their children worship the devil at least one
night out of the year.

Please be living in truth people. Do that, and you have no need to fear. Yes. It’s something we all still have to work on. Check your history when making a historical claim and remember, if God can redeem you, who knows what else He can redeem.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Seeing Through Christianity Part 3

Does the idea of the devil make sense? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

The next chapter in Zuersher’s book is on the devil. The first question Zuersher asks is why would an omnipotent God need helpers? Again, this falls into the category of “God does something I don’t understand. Therefore, He doesn’t exist.” It also assumes that everything that is done is done out of need. Why should I think that?

The interesting thing about an atheist giving theological objections like this is you want to ask how it is they did their theology. What criteria did they use? Did they go out and study the best works they could find, or did they just sit down one day and think about things and see what they thought was a hole and ran with it?

He also says angels don’t fit into monotheism. How? Your guess is as good as mine. This is a mistake even Rodney Stark makes in his latest book Why God? It’s thought that Jews, Christians, and Muslims aren’t true monotheists because we believe in beings like angels, but monotheism means belief in one God. It doesn’t exclude other spiritual beings.

Zuersher also says God could have created angels with a nature more like His own. Who is to say He didn’t? He couldn’t create them with a nature exactly like His because a created being will always have limitations, such as dependence on another for their existence. Creating a being doesn’t mean that God necessitates how that being will behave. That’s part of free-will.

He also says that the snake being the devil creates problems, such as why punish snakes? The answer is simply that the language spoken of the devil in this passage is that of shaming. It’s not making a categorical statement about snakes for all time.

Ironically, he does get something right. He does point out that the word for devil does mean adversary. This means many times what the Old Testament translates as satan could best be read as the adversary. It’s sad that the paragraph after this, he ignores the very suggestion he made in order to get at a contradiction he sees.

This is the account of the census in 2 Samuel and 1 Chronicles. In 1 Chronicles, satan is said to be responsible while in 2 Samuel, God is. Who is responsible? My solution is to say that satan refers to an adversary that God allowed to be raised up. David decides this is a good time to count his fighting men in response. Had Zuersher followed the rule in the very prior paragraph, he could have found a solution to what he considers an embarrassing contradiction and passages that are generally avoided.

The same would apply to Balaam’s donkey. The term used to describe the angel is a term that is translated as lesatan. Again, this can refer to an adversary. If you read it like this, the problem vanishes. Balaam is on his way and he encounters someone who opposes him.

So how did the devil enter into the system to begin with? Zuersher says that during the exile, Jews came into contact with Zoroastrianism and got the devil from them. We would really like to see the hard evidence of this. For someone who doesn’t accept oral tradition easily, why accept the claims of what Zoroaster taught when those really come to us from the time AFTER Christianity?

Finally, some people might want to say who are Chrisitans that the devil is behind works like Zuersher. I would say if so, the devil could find much better argumentation to use. Too many Christians have a tendency to blame the devil for everything and make him quite often on par with YHWH. Unfortunately, such fixation on the devil gives people like Zuersher more ammunition.

In Christ,
Nick Peters