November 7, 2017

​On Jesus’ Side

Have you ever known a Christian atheist? Christian atheists are people who call themselves Christians, but live as though they don’t believe in God. They think that the name of Jesus is tantamount to having a good luck charm, such as a Rabbit’s Foot! Let me explain.

The devil is real. But, praise God, God’s more powerful and keeps the devil at bay. But—and this is a big but—if we decide to do, say, go places, or watch things we know we shouldn’t, we can’t expect good things to happen.

Christian writer and prophet Ellen White described a truly chilling and creepy vision she had of Satan: “I was shown Satan as he once was, a happy, exalted angel. Then I was shown him as he now is. He still bears a kingly form. His features are still noble, for he is an angel fallen. But the expression of his countenance is full of anxiety, care, unhappiness, malice, hate, mischief, deceit, and every evil. . . . I saw that he had so long bent himself to evil that every good quality was debased and every evil trait was developed.”[1]

Ellen White always depicts the devil as a defeated foe. He only has the scope of power and authority God allows him to have. But make no mistake: Satan is a powerful and highly intelligent adversary. My point is simple: Let’s not purposely place ourselves within his grasp. Because just as Jesus has an incredibly positive and wonderful plan for our lives, the converse is also true: “A thief [Satan] comes only to rob, kill, and destroy. I [Jesus] came so that everyone would have life, and have it in its fullest” (John 10:10, CEV[2]).

To illustrate, I’ll share one story. The apostle Paul was in the city of Ephesus, doing what he normally did: sharing the good news, healing the sick, and casting out demons. The rest of the story is found in Acts 19:11-16.

Did you notice anything interesting? The seven sons of Sceva—though not believers in Jesus themselves (having no relationship with Him)—purposefully put themselves in a situation in which they had no business being, especially without the proper power source (the Holy Spirit). They thought they could use Jesus’ name like a good luck charm, a rabbit’s foot. But that’s not how it works. This, unfortunately, resulted in them getting schooled by a demon who: (1) Had heard of Paul. (2) Absolutely knew the name (and power) of Jesus. (3) But had never heard of them.

What happened? The demon beat them so badly they ran off bleeding and naked! What kind of a whoopin’ would you have to get to lose all your clothes? And what does that have to do with us?

Well, we could hope we won’t ever have to experience this level of demonic oppression/possession in our lives, but the Bible is clear: all of us—Christian or not, hypocrite or not—wage a real war against real demons and a real devil! The apostle Paul warned Christians in Ephesus, “We are not fighting against humans. We are fighting against forces and authorities and against rulers of darkness and powers in the spiritual world” (Eph. 6:12, CEV).

The only difference between Jesus’ true followers, and those who only call themselves Christians, is that the latter, through their choices and lifestyle, basically hand the devil the key to their minds and lives and tell God they’re not interested in a relationship with Him, and by extension (and this is where it gets scary) God’s protection.

People who think they’re just having a good time and watching something different and scary don’t think through all the implications and consequences of their actions. So here’s a rhyme that may help keep us safe: “By Jesus’ side always stay; and with the devil never play!”

Omar Miranda, a counselor and writer, lives with his family in unplain Plainville, Georgia.

[1] Ellen G. White, Early Writings, Review and Herald Publishing Association, Washington, D.C., 1882, p. 152.

[2]Scripture quotations identified CEV are from the Contemporary English Version. Copyright ã American Bible Society 1991, 1995. Used by permission.