I recently got the chance to spend a day with an old friend. I kind of pushed myself into her family when I was in high school, and I got close to her and all four of her siblings over those four years. Every single member of her amazing family has influenced my life in some way.
But after high school, we parted ways, as people do. We met the men who are now our husbands, and now, ten years and six kids later, we finally got to sit down face-to-face and just talk.
We talked about a number of things, but the main topics were our kids and marriage.
We talked about the older couples (not old people, but just people who are older than we are) who had poured into our teenage lives, taught us so much, and discipled us. We discussed the great times we had laughing with and learning from those people, and we wondered how so much had changed in such a short amount of time.
Unfortunately, many of those couples are now divorced, and their splits can all be blamed on the same culprit: adultery.
It’s kind of scary to think about that. When those folks were my age, still fairly newlyweds, did they ever imagine they’d be where they are today? I mean, what if that’s Ray and me in the next 15 years or so? Who’s to say it won’t be?
Here lately, thanks to the Supreme Court’s recent decision, there’s been a lot of talk about marriage – its definition, its sanctity, and the ongoing attack against it. If you’re tired of reading or hearing about that in relation to homosexuality, then go ahead and breathe a sigh of relief; that’s not what I’m writing about today.
I guess I’m for the first time considering Satan’s very real attack on the Church – his crusade against Christians, and the unfortunate success he’s having in that war.
1 Peter 5:8 advises Believers to "be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour."
How often do we really believe we are sober-minded, that we are watchful, and how often do we pride ourselves on that alertness, only to be taken down? The devil is also on the lookout, but his search is for any crevice through which he may slither into our lives.
I’m not one to blame Satan for every little thing that goes wrong in my life. In fact, it kind of peeves me when my brothers and sisters give him credit for the smallest inconveniences and setbacks they may suffer daily – like being late for work or ripping a hole in a new pair of jeans. I feel like those anecdotes feed the image of the devil as a red-faced and horned figure who adorns a silly cape and spends his day bouncing on our shoulders like a kindergartner who’s got to go to the bathroom, just trying to convince us to make bad decisions.
That’s not the devil at all. He’s smooth, he’s cunning, and he is actually out to destroy you and every evidence of what the Lord has done in your life! He’s not new at his job, and we can’t outsmart him without God’s wisdom.
Every once in a while, I get caught up in crime shows – particularly Law and Order: SVU. Before I continue, I feel I should make it known that I am not publicly supporting that show or what its writers and actors may believe or stand for, and I am not advising anyone to watch it. Nevertheless, I get caught up in it sometimes.
Anyhow, several episodes in season 14 focus on a fellow named William Lewis -- a serial rapist, serial killer, kidnapper and sadist who has gotten away with everything he’s ever done by conning people into believing he’s a victim and by exploiting and slipping through the cracks of the justice system. In all of his brilliance, he zeroes in on Detective Olivia Benson and manages to kidnap and abuse her before everything is said and done. And even once he is caught and jailed, he still causes everyone to question the legality of Detective Benson’s job performance, virtually destroying her longstanding reputation. He never gives up on his mission to destroy her.
Without giving more brutal details, I bring him up because I believe he is a more accurate picture of Satan than the one we paint in our Sunday school classes and small group meetings. Lewis is out to destroy Detective Benson the way Satan is out to destroy every person who professes the name of Jesus Christ. And what better way to do that than through a bond that is so spiritually rooted that it compels Christ Himself to refer to His Church as His own bride?
For a brief time in my years at Urban Family, I ran the board for Bishop Harry Jackson’s show. His guests were many, but of them all, one couple still stands out in my mind. Forgive my lack of attention to detail, as I cannot remember the couple’s name, but their story is unforgettable. The two were involved in ministry together, and long story short, during that ministry, the wife grew close to a fellow within the church and eventually had an affair with him. A child was conceived in her adultery, but the husband found it within himself to forgive her. In fact, he even named the child after himself, and the couple is still together today, using their difficult story for the glory of God.
What has stayed with me the past couple of years is the woman saying, “I was prideful to think that I would never cheat on my husband,” and she acknowledged that Satan used that pride as an entrance into her marriage. After all, pride does come before destruction (Proverbs 16:18). He could have destroyed a marriage by finding the tiniest loophole in a wife’s seemingly solid vow to her husband.
Married friends, we need to protect our marriages. We need to see it with the value that even Satan recognizes. We need to be on guard and to place our relationships completely in God’s hands, because only there are they safe from Satan’s well-planned attacks. And when we allow Him to utilize marriage as the picture of ministry that it’s supposed to be – where wives are loved by their husbands as Christ loves the Church. Where wives recognize that love and submit themselves fully to it, as the Church should love and submit itself to the Lord. Where new lives are begun, nurtured and molded to be like sanctified arrows in the hands of a warrior (Psalm 127:4) – what a powerful tool it could be against the darkness in this world and Satan’s ongoing attacks.
He will never stop looking for loopholes to bring down Believers, and though we aren’t perfect and can never appear to be so, we should never close our watchful eye. We have to be diligent. We must never stop fighting for marriage as God designed it.