What did Jesus come to do? To suffer and die, and rise again, to save us from our sins. Simple question with a simple answer, right? Well, the question is simple, and the answer is correct. And yet there is so, so much more, and every bit is still part of His work as Savior.
The Holy Gospel for the First Sunday in Lent is the temptation of Jesus by the devil upon the Lord’s forty-day fast in the wilderness. Consider how much is packed into, say, the meaning of the forty days, the fasting, the wilderness—the riches to be mined from a Scripture study of just those three things are inexhaustible! I haven’t even touched on my topic yet. For that Sunday, the Hymn of the Day is “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God” (LSB 656). The second half of stanza one says, “The old evil foe / Now means deadly woe; Deep guile and great might / Are his dread arms in fight; On earth is not his equal.”
“Deep guile and great might”—these are the devil’s weapons, and none of us on earth can match him, fend him off, or outwit him by our own reason or strength. His might can terrify, and it is terrifying. The Word of God calls him “the great dragon … that ancient serpent” (Rev 12:9). I am reminded of a T-shirt Krisjanis has which says: MEDDLE NOT IN THE AFFAIRS OF DRAGONS, FOR YOU ARE CRUNCHY AND GOOD WITH KETCHUP. Too many people have meddled in the affairs of that hellish dragon, thinking they could control him, be his friend, harness his power for themselves, only to find his jaws crunching and crushing them.
The devil’s greatest weapon, though, is his “deep guile,” his deceit, fraud, deception, lying, craft, cunning, duplicity, chicanery, ruses, trickery, imposture, pretense, and quackery. (Add more to the list, if you like. There are plenty of synonyms for what amounts to the same old, same old.) He keeps at it, and humans keep falling for his tricks. He is the great impostor, as St. Paul warns, “for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light” (2 Cor 11:14). I’m sure you can think of many examples of the devil’s deceitful work in the world. One main emphasis of the penitential season of Lent is to examine where his guile has been at work in one’s self and life—and recognizing it, to confess it, repent of it, and by the Grace of God resolve to do better—that is, to hold fast to Christ and walk in newness of life.
It is important to be aware of the enemy’s deceptions. Recently, Linda and I attended a one-night screening of a new film, Alien Intrusion: Unmasking a Deception, by Creation Ministries International. The CEO of CMI–US, Gary Bates, has been studying UFOs and associated extraterrestrial beliefs for a number of years, and wrote a book on the topic, Alien Intrusion: UFOs and the Evolution Connection, on which the movie is based. Both book and movie provide biblical answers to puzzling questions: Are UFOs spacecraft from other worlds? Do extraterrestrials exist? Are they visiting us?
According to Gary Bates and his colleagues, the “aliens” are, in truth, a supernatural, demonic deception. They do not mean us well or peace. (When have the devil and his hordes ever meant so?) But they do recognize one all-mighty Name, JESUS—and flee from it and Him in fear. True believers calling on His Name in true faith have made such ‘close encounters’ stop, even permanently. I once believed in the reality of the whole extraterrestrial/alien/UFO thing. Thanks be to God, I know the truth—and I know The Truth, Christ Jesus, who frees us body, heart, and mind from Satan and his every deception.
Soli Deo Gloria,