Have you ever watched a movie or read a book that was so true-to-life that you forgot it was fiction? You find yourself relating it to another with an excitement that makes them wonder if it truly took place. The great authors and screenwriters are those who can mix just enough of truth into the story line that the lines of reality are blurred to the audience.
There is another in this world who seeks to blur the lines and draw us into his story line. He goes by many names, but those we know the most are the Devil and Satan. You might just call him Evil. He’s appeared consistently on the world stage throughout the ages, beginning with a deception to Eve in the Garden of Eden: “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat fruit from any tree in the garden’?”
That’s his trick, you see, twisting truth, blending light with darkness, and making the shaky soul unsure, doubtful.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer understood this deadly goal, seeing it play out first-hand in the evil regime of Adolf Hitler and the Nazis. He wrote in a 1943 essay:
The great masquerade of evil has played havoc with all our ethical concepts. For evil to appear disguised as light, charity, historical necessity, or social justice is quite bewildering to anyone brought up on our traditional ethical concepts, while for the Christian who bases his life on the Bible it merely confirms the fundamental wickedness of evil.*
So much of what I’m reading from history could be applied to life today. In fact, so much of what I read in my Bible can be as well. Satan has not changed his tactics one iota from that fateful day in the garden. He has always been the father of lies, coming in the form of an angel of light. This is why I like Bonhoeffer’s quote. It is only the Christian, the follower of Jesus Christ, who knows and spends time in the Word of God, who can see the tricks, the twists and deceptions for what they are and be confident in standing up against them.
This is what Bonhoeffer did from the very beginning with Hitler and National Socialism. He saw the evil behind the slogans, the justifications for their acts of horror, and he stood firm against it at the cost of his own life. What made Bonhoeffer so sure in his stand? He spent daily time reading, studying and memorizing God’s Word. It was his source of all guidance for his life, and he found it unwavering in truth and comfort.
When arrested by the Gestapo, the only thing he took with him was his Bible.
Are you watching and listening to the world through the lens of Scripture? Never take anything at face value, but ask the Holy Spirit to give you discerning ears and eyes to look at all in comparison to God’s truth. Only then can you stand firm in the midst of a world that wants to play havoc, as Bonhoeffer says, to your ethical concepts.
Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings. And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.*
Don’t be deceived by Satan’s masquerade. Stand strong in the truth of Christ and his Word, for he already has the victory.
Grace and peace
*Dietrich Bonhoeffer, “After Ten Years: A Reckoning Made at New Year 1943” as quoted in Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxas. (Thomas Nelson, 2010).
*1 Peter 5:8-10 (NIV).