The Bible is an epic novel depicting a battle between good and evil, of sin and righteousness, among faith and temptation. In order to understand how to truly live in the way of Christ, one must also have a full understanding the ways of the devil. Part of being a Christian is overcoming the devil and all of his pomps and all of his works. However after being constantly bombarded with images of red horned figures and spooky Sunday school stories, it is hard to know exactly who the devil is and what is the purpose of resisting his advances?
Rather than a being, the devil is an idea representing the negative and sinful acts of our society. This is not to say that he is fictional, but instead both a personification of evil and literally the fallen angel depicted in the bible. He often uses the art of seduction to create chaos. The devil is a “seducer of the beginnings [and] is transformed quickly into a forbidding adversary.” The word Satan itself, which is his Hebrew name, means the contempt of the cross of Christ. The devil directs one towards what he wants rather than what Christ wants for him. This chain reaction allows the devil’s idea to grow and develop through out the community, the root of mimesis induced conflict. Thus more people want to emulate that idea, and the devil in correspondence continues to spread. This allows him to be both the seducer and the idea of the thoughts one has been seduced into having. According to Bishop Sheen, the word diabolic itself means a “disruption or disturbance”. The devil’s practices affect a community by dividing it. However if they remain chaotic and separated, the devil no longer has anything to harm. In order to maintain his kingdom, he allows the society in response comes together through hatred of a common enemy.
This is similar to India in relation to its British Imperialism. Britain’s goal was to maintain its spot as a superior race thus making the Indian’s feel as the barbaric race. Britain settled in India and oppressed them causing them to want western values of liberty and freedom. The two disorganized groups, Muslims and Hindus, banded together under their leader Ghandi as they had the common enemy of Britain. They fought together for their independence and expelled who they thought they had to fear (England) gaining what they thought they wanted (freedom). However the two quickly turned on each other causing civil war, the partition of India, a violent migration process, and riots. These acts, due to the lack of a common enemy, showed that Britain did not need to be there in order to keep the Indian race at a barbaric level. They instilled in India the feeling of hatred and feeling low enough to stoop towards violent means, succeeding in their mission.
As the devil leaves the scapegoat in this sense becomes Jesus. While this may seem thwart the devil as he has disappeared, the act of anger towards Christ instills the values of the devil leaving his practices in the heads of the community. This allows the devil to transform from an influence into an actual thought process. The newly unified community while seeming reorganized is in fact disorganized in the new instilled virtues left by the effects of temptation. Thus while they feel as if they have solved the issues of Satan, they are indeed satisfying his very wishes.
With such a cunning wit and manipulative persona, the devil should be feared because of his intangibility. He has the ability to be both the seducer and the act of seduction. Bishop Sheen describes how before we sin it seems as though the devil is on our side and Christ on the other. Christ ‘scolds’ us against sin while the devil encourages it in a more favorable manner. Rather then a being the devil is an idea. Even when he expels himself repeatedly, he still maintains his ideals among the community. This aspect of the devil is scary to Christians because they can not pin point exactly where the devil they need to overcome is coming from. However a Christian living an authentic Christian life should not fear the devil because he has no power of the Christian soul unless that person consents to him. In Ephesians 6:11-16, it says with Christ “you may be able to extinguish all the fiery darts of the most wicked one.”
God gives us the tools to thwart the devil’s temptation. Encountering the devil is a scary and inevitable experience; it is a part of Christian life. What is the merit of never having sinned if one is never greeted with temptation? The devil is the epitome of sin and temptation. However, Christ gives us the strength to fight against that. In Luke 10, Jesus said “I beheld Satan as light night fall from heave. Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you.” This is saying to not focus on the devil as God will give you the strength to overcome his obstacles. Focus on following in the ways of Christ.
The devil is a complicated figure. While it hard to understand what he physically is, his temptation is highly evident in our community. Society often condones sinful behavior such as premarital sex, the use drugs, and the greedy collection of money. When people see celebrities and images, they become jealous and try to mimic these ideas to the best of their abilities. Envy alone is one of the seven deadly sins and it is again instilling non Christian values. However through being educated of the devil’s temptation and living an authentic Christian life one learns that Jesus can give them the power to say “no”. This reminds of the strength Christ gives us and re-instills that God’s tools have a greater magnitude the devil’s schemes.