The Devil’s schemes in these days, weeks and months of COVID19 

Put on the full armour of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. (Ephesians 6:11)
 

We heard a great sermon this weekend on standing firm in Jesus Christ, and our preacher rightly warned us about the role of the evil one. 

In the Zoom question time afterward someone asked me what I thought some of the devils schemes were? What a great question, the kind that has clung to me for a couple of days, and driven me to write down some thoughts for my benefit and hopefully yours. What are his schemes at this time with COVID19 hanging over our heads?

I’m sure we can speculate more about his intentions, but from the sure footing of Scripture, here are are four clear strategies of Satan. 
 

1. If only Christians would deny the reality and inevitability of death.

“You will not certainly die” (The Serpent. Genesis 3:4)


God’s word made the stars, the seas and the souls of every human being. God speaks and what he makes is good. The devil tries to undo this nexus. He sows doubt about the goodness of God’s word and also its power to come true. The first blatant contradiction of the word of God comes from the serpent, when he told those first humans they will not die if they disobey God. 

Denying God’s judgment has been the principle lie that people, even in churches, have believed from that day onwards. I think in these last two years of COVID19, one lie that we face is that we can be in control and that we can stop death breaking into this world. I have noticed that younger people especially think we can control things. Medicine, which is a gift from God, can only prolong this life. It can never completely undo death. Older Christians, and those who have walked close to death’s darkest valley are perhaps less vulnerable, but still must be careful. Ironically the second scheme is related to the first, but almost its opposite.


2. If only Christians would be the same as their community in their fear of death.

“Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil— and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.” (Hebrews 2:14-15)


If the only thing that exists is matter, then life can be paralysed by the fear of the inevitable and the unstoppable. We are slipping into a culture that says that the only thing important is bodily preservation. Morality is reduced to safety. Wear a hat, put on a condom, take it easy.

Isn’t it interesting how the devil controls us? He wants us to neurotically think that we will not die and at the same time be paralysed by the fear of that which he denies. The Christian however can face death as a reality and not be enslaved by its power. This is the gospel of Jesus, the empty tomb, the home prepared, the life lived now that we sing about.


3. If only Christians would turn on each other rather than help each other. 

“In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. (Ephesians 4:26-27)

“For this is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another. Do not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother.”  (1 John 3:11-12)


I’ve noticed that in this time of pressure with lockdowns, misunderstandings and miscommunication have increased. I have noticed that my fuse is a little shorter than normal. Truth be told, I’ve seen this in other people I love and respect too. Frightened people find it hard to love. Remember in Jesus, we don’t need to be afraid. 

Being apart from each other can make things more difficult. Living in our own heads, with our own online eco-chambers doesn’t help either. Anger is so often the Devil’s cocaine*, it’s a rush that tends to make us feel righteous, and everyone else wrong. 

We are not against each other. I’m vaccinated as are the majority of our adults, probably more than 90% will be soon. But some of us are not. They are not my enemies. They are my friends and I do not doubt their love for me and I love them as much as those who are vaccinated.

I have been hurting for them, for those who are worried that they will lose their jobs and won’t be able to pay their mortgages. Even if our community treats them like scapegoats and outcasts, we must be different.   

We must love each other; and I am so glad we are doing this. The gospel of Jesus calls us not to fall into the devil’s schemes.

4. If only Christians would abandon meeting together, praising God and be ok with that. 

“His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, according to his eternal purpose that he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Ephesians 4:10-11)

“Through the praise of children and infants you have established a stronghold against your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger.” (Psalm 8:2)

While we can’t meet at the moment, I wonder if the devil’s snare is for us to say that this status quo is ok forever. The church gathering with people from all nationalities and backgrounds proclaims God’s wisdom in the face of all evil powers who wants to keep us away from each other. Praising God is actually God’s plan to shut the accuser’s mouth. He must be rejoicing that we cannot gather and can’t praise God. Don’t give Satan that pleasure. We will meet when we are allowed, but in the meantime let’s do what we can, be what we are as his people, open his word, praise God in our homes and in our walks. Shove in Satan’s face that this present situation does not reflect our hearts. We are Christ’s people, who belong to each other, and nothing can change that!

Here are four of Satan’s strategies:

1. If only Christians would deny the reality and inevitability of death.

2. If only Christians would be the same as their community in their fear of death.

3. If only Christians would turn on each other rather than help each other.

4. If only Christians would abandon meeting together, praising God and be ok with that. 
 

Please do not read this as a radical call for us to rebel against the government. We will submit to their rules. 

But please do read this as a radical call for us to rebel against the one who thinks he is the “prince of this world”. 

There are risks we face at this time. Some of them will be physical and we want to take seriously the care and protection of each other. But I also want us to be aware that our battle is not with flesh and blood, nor even only with a virus that affects our flesh and blood. Our battle is against the “rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (Ephesians 6:12)  Therefore put on God’s armour.

The Bible tells us that Jesus is praying for us now. He stands “at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.” (Romans 8:34)

Maybe his prayer for us as his people is similar to his prayer for his disciple Simon Peter.

“Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” (Luke 22:31-32)

May we be aware of the devil’s schemes.
May our faith not fail.
May we stand in the Lord Jesus Christ.
May we turn to God and strengthen our brothers and sisters.


* Thanks to Andrew Klavan for this insightful analogy about anger being the devil’s cocaine.

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Andrew Barry serves Christ with his people at Menai Anglican Church. He is married to Ruth. They live with five of their children and eagerly wait to see their other son when Jesus returns.

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