“Nor give place to the devil.” - Ephesians 4:27
In light of the terrible tragedy in Las Vegas this week, as a new record was set for mass murder and horror, the media has been eagerly trying to figure out what motive moved Stephen Paddock to take the lives of 58 people and injure more than 500 more! The shock and devastation that was caused leaves everyone hurting and looking for a reason that someone could do this. I have been in constant prayer since I heard of it and my heart weeps for all those affected. The world is getting so evil but, as Christians, should we be surprised?
In this day and age very little is said about the devil and we have ignored him to our peril. A cursory reading of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation reveals that there are two great forces in the universe. One is God, He is the creator of everything and everything that He makes is good. His character is love and He wants good for all of His creation. The other, the devil, was originally a good being, created by God, that went very bad indeed when he became proud and selfish. He spread that evil to 1/3 of the inhabitants of heaven and (by our choice) to the human race. All of human history is a battle between these two powers for the destinies of every human being. God desires the salvation and final immortality of all the redeemed children of earth and paved the way for that to happen by dying to remove the power of sin and make us new again. The devil has no greater desire than to hurt God and everyone He cares about through any means necessary bringing destruction, pain, suffering and death. The real fight is going on around us every day and we are all a part of it! “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12).
This entire war is about territory and is not geographical as much as it is spiritual. It is about who owns the hearts and minds of every human being. Earlier in this book Paul warns us not to give place to the devil (Ephesians 4:27) and in that chapter verses 20-32 Paul mentions many things that give the devil a place (lust, deception, anger, bitterness, wrath, malice etc…) and they all have to do with attitudes in our mind and heart. Satan is taking territory in our thoughts and feelings. After he has taken that territory he strikes out from there into words and actions. Why did Stephen Paddock do what he did? The answer is simple. He let the devil in. But his danger is also our danger. The devil has an ally in my own heart. James 1:14 warns that “each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed.” I am naturally inclined to want what is wrong, I have a predisposition towards sin. But verse 15 continues “Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.” Humanity is not morally neutral we start on the wrong side and without supernatural help it will destroy us. Indeed the Bible warns that the time just before the world ends will show evil in full bloom and sin on public display. “But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God” 2 Timothy 3:1–4. Does that look familiar or what? Humanity has bought the lie that we are basically good and don’t need God. We can live how we want to live, do what we want to do and everything will be fine. But in reality we are being destroyed. I don’t know where this finds you but have you seen that evil blooming in your own heart? Have you seen where it is taking you? My heart weeps when I see those around me embracing the toxic poison of sin in their own lives. It doesn’t have to be this way! The beautiful truth is that Satan does not have to win with us! The devil has no power in the heart ruled by God (2 Corinthians 10:4-5). But we have to stop making excuses for sin in our own hearts and lives! Give no place to the devil!
God loves us so much that He not only sent His Son to this earth to take the cost of our evil on Himself (John 3:16) and if we ask Him into our hearts, through the work of the Holy Spirit He can forgive us (1 John 1:9), make us into a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:14-17) and give us the tools to win in this war (Ephesians 6:10-18; Romans 12:1-3). Whether you have never excepted Christ or have followed Christ but let the devil get a foothold in your life, this prayer is for you.
“Dear Lord, I am so sorry for letting the devil get a foothold in my life. Please forgive me for embracing the sin of_________ (fill in the area that Satan has been ruling you in). Wash away my sins and defeat Satan's power in my heart (Romans 16:20). I ask you to be Lord of my life and make me a new creation in You. Live in me and give me the power stand for you no matter what attacks Satan brings. Thank you for dying to give me a new life in You. In Jesus name, Amen.