When should we be hesitant to speak? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.
There are two types of talk in the church that I am hesitant when I hear people expressing. Both are eeriely similar. One is when Christians talk about what God is doing and one is talking about what the devil is doing.
Let’s start with what the devil is doing. There seems to be a dangerous overemphasis on this. If a Christian is struggling with a sin or an unbeliever is being obstinate in their ways, well that’s Satan at work there. Now I am not denying that demonic powers can be at work at times, but consider this. We talk so much about the devil that I understand how some Christians think he’s really the mirror opposite of God, as if he’s omnipotent and omnipresent.
Sadly, when we talk about this, we hardly ever talk about the person involved. When a man is struggling with pornography, well that’s Satan going after him. That could be, but here’s what I do know is going on. A man is watching pornography and wanting to stop and struggling. Am I to think that if the devil was removed from the picture, that the man would no longer have the struggle? If you think that, then it would seem that if we could just remove Satan from the picture we would all be perfect people.
If you don’t, then you know that with or without the devil, the man is struggling. The man himself needs to repent. The man needs to get help such as accountability software and a therapist and a group like Celebrate Recovery. So let’s consider, of these two elements, the man himself and the devil, which one does the man have the most control over.
Shouldn’t that be the focus?
And should we presume the devil is at work without a sound basis?
Now what about God?
I have heard Catholics, Protestants, and Orthodox all talk about what God is doing in their midst. Each one claims the favor of God for their actions. Now in my view, God is at work in all three churches to bring about His glory and there are real Christians in each church.
However, when we do this, we are acting as if we are sitting on the divine council itself and we are seeing what the will of God is and can know it. Once again, this could be God at work, but maybe God is not directly guiding people all the time any more than the devil is directly tempting people all the time. As Jesus says in the Sermon on the Mount, evil people know how to give good gifts to their children and I don’t think we should say they’re only doing that because God is guiding them.
My problem here is with a sort of presumption and when we do this, we are giving divine authority to our own decisions and actions. We act like we are as certain of this as Moses was that He was doing the will of God in guiding the people of Israel. This is awfully dangerous and I really think we can add a lot of danger for new Christians who are going to presume they should be able to sense the direction of God in their own lives so much.
Perhaps we should have some humility towards the divine and just do what we know God has revealed for us to do in Scripture and trust that He is at work somehow in what we do even if we don’t know how and it doesn’t mean He is directly causing the events to happen. Once again, what can we know the most about? We can know about what we are to do many times and we can control what we do.
Maybe we should focus on what we know.
Again, none of this is denying that God or the devil could specifically be causing XYZ. What is being said is we can’t know, but we can know our part. Focus on what we do know and not on what we don’t.
(And I affirm the virgin birth)