Sunday, January 11, 2015

Section 6: Spiritual Dynamics: Satan, And The Dark Economy

The Correct World View

         In any drama, even the redemptive drama, there must be an antagonist...  

          Long ago, in a perfect place, a voice was heard making promises. It was a smooth voice, as articulate as a scholar, and as affable as a pleasant friend. Essentially, it whispered this temptation, “I can show you a better way forward which will change everything. All you have to do is ignore your fears and believe in your own potential.


          “You can then cast off the divine restrictions and begin to decide good and evil, for yourself. At that point, your life will truly become your own. And, you can pursue personal gratification in whatever way seems good to you.” (Ref. An Interpretation of Genesis 3:1-7)

          But, as they always are, Satan’s seductive promises to the first couple in the Garden of Eden were entirely deceptive. Indeed, everything did change. But, those changes were in no way positive, as promised. 

          Instead, mankind’s blissful existence in paradise was immediately lost. And, we became entirely broken – and brokenhearted. Death became an invariable part of the human existence. And real and intimate access to our benevolent Creator became a thing of the past. 

          And, no doubt, at the end of it all, Satan’s dark voice could again be heard laughing with sinister satisfaction. “See,” the old serpent must surely have quipped, “everything has changed – just as I promised.” And, for the very first time, mankind tasted the deep bitterness of what it means to be a very great fool. 

The Bi-dimensional View 

          Since the bitterness of that early moment, God has shown us that the correct world view is a view of life with two dimensions – the Physical Dimension and the Spiritual, or Metaphysical, Dimension. He has also shown us that in the Physical Dimension, where we are now living, there are really only two Prime Movers – God and Satan. 

          So, let’s briefly explore this larger, bi-dimensional life view. Doing so will enable us to better grasp the real context of God’s friendship. But, it will also enable us to better understand and anticipate the adversaries of that friendship: Satan, and the Dark Economy which he heads. 

          Let’s just begin with the basics. Indeed, the complete picture of life is composed of these two dimensions. The Physical Dimension (this physical life) is the smaller and more finite dimension. And, the Spiritual Dimension is the infinitely larger dimension of life. 

          Perhaps when trying to explain our faith, especially to outsiders, when we use the word “Spiritual” some might be inclined to whisper this little sneer, “Whatever that means.” And perhaps rightly so, because, in truth, the spiritual dimension is far less familiar to most, than is this physical dimension. 

          And, in fact, how could it not be? Our physical senses are completely inadequate to even perceive, much less, carefully research this dimension of life. So, we are really left with only the clues in God’s Word regarding this larger aspect of life. But, we do gain very key facts from those revelations.


There Is A Connection

          For example, we do get that the spiritual dimension is a much more ethereal (less touchable and observable) type of existence. And, we also understand that it, nevertheless, completely envelopes, and is thoroughly integrated into the daily workings of this physical dimension. (Ref. John 4:24 / Ephesians 6:12 / 2 Corinthians 11:13-15 / 2 Thessalonians 2:9)

          Thus, the spiritual dimension is operating unseen all around us every day. And, the superseding realities of this larger life dimension are constantly affecting us – even though we may be mostly oblivious to the subtle complexities of this binary existence. But, this impactful connection is not really so hard to notice when we become alert to its existence.


The Great Conflict

          Take, as the prime example, the constant tension between good and evil which exists in this physical world. This reality has long been self-evident. But, in fact, this condition actually originates in the spiritual dimension as the conflict between God and Satan. It then simply reverberates from the spiritual into this physical dimension via the interconnection between the two. 

          And, in fact, this conflict between good and evil is an important part of the larger reality. Thus, it also becomes an important part of this smaller physical reality. 

          So, let’s consider – very particularly – this aspect of the bi-dimensional life view. This “Cosmic Conflict” between God and Satan is actually too important not to discuss in some detail. And, this discussion necessarily begins with a look at the important “players” in the conflict.

The “Prime Movers” And Their Children

          As mentioned earlier, in the correct world view, there are only two Primary Influences in this physical dimension. The first, of course, is God. His influence is the expression of all that is good in the world. It encompasses love, decency, morality, and truth. The Godly influence always promotes an agenda of true goodness. 

          The second primary influence in the world is Satan’s. His influence is the expression of all that is evil in the world. It encompasses all that is dark, deceptive, and harmful. This satanic influence is never straightforward, or honest, or truthful - though it always initially presents itself as all of those things. 

          So, God and Satan are the “main players” in this great conflict. And, with their completely opposed agendas, each is competing to become the primary interpreter - the one who decides good and evil (defines truth) in this physical reality. The rest of us are merely subscribers to, and supporters of one or the other of their more primary voices. 

The Children

          Thus, whenever any of us express our own influence in the world, verbally or otherwise, we are really only giving amplification to one of these more primary voices. And, though we may believe that we are acting purely in our own interest, this is never really the case. Rather, in all that we do or say, we are actually giving support to one or the other of these two more primary influences. 

          So, as we exert our influence in our own way, we then, by those actions, make ourselves the “influential offspring” of one or the other of these two prime influences. And, this idea of our being the influential child of God or Satan is easily confirmed in the Bible. 

          Jesus exposed this idea with great clarity. Among other places, He did so in a conversation recorded in the Bible with some who were opposing His teachings during His earthly ministry. Jesus said,  “‘I speak what I have seen with My Father, and you do what you have seen with your father.’ 

“They answered and said to Him, ‘Abraham is our father.’

“Jesus said to them, ‘If you were Abraham's children, you would do the works of Abraham. But now, you seek to kill Me, a Man who has told you the truth which I heard from God. Abraham did not do this. You do the deeds of your father.'

“Then they said to Him, ‘We were not born of fornication; we have one Father--God.’

“‘If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and came from God; nor have I come of Myself, but He sent Me.

“‘Why do you not understand My speech? Because you are not able to listen to My word. You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it. 

“‘But because I tell the truth, you do not believe Me. Which of you convicts Me of sin? And if I tell the truth, why do you not believe Me? He who is of God hears God's words; therefore you do not hear, because you are not of God.’”
 (Ref. John 8:38-47 NKJV)

Now, Back To Values

          These words from Jesus bring us back to the earlier idea of interpretive values. Essentially, Jesus was letting these people know why they could not understand God’s truth. It was because they had rejected the divine values which distill that truth in favor of the values of their influential father, Satan. Thus they were deafened to God’s interpretations of reality by the Satan-based distillations. 

          So, Jesus points out here that, as a result, they had become the children (the influential offspring) of Satan. And, indeed, it is easy to identify the character essence of God’s children and that of Satan’s children. Those identities are always established by whose value system we employ to assess and interpret reality.

          So, if, through Christ, we embrace God’s values, and thus, His correct interpretation of reality (truth), we become a product (a child) of His influence. On the other hand, when we decide to self-interpret life, we have, by that decision, embraced the prime tenet of Satan’s value system (Self-determination) – and thus, we make ourselves the offspring of his influence.

          So, this is the way of things. There are these two diametrically opposed primary influences in the world, God and Satan. And, they are driven by two entirely different value systems which produce entirely different views (interpretations) of reality. And each of us is identified by the values, and the resulting life view, that we embrace and employ – whether God’s view, or a Satan-prompted, self-concentric alternative view of life’s issues.

The Light And The Darkness

          Over time, we have come to label the differing economies which stem from God’s view of life and Satan’s view of life as simply, the Light and the Darkness, respectively. The simple meaning of the word, “Light,” as it is figuratively used in the Bible is, “an awareness of God’s truth.” Thus, the figurative idea of the “Darkness” becomes – “the absence of that awareness.” 

          So, the apostle wrote, “But if we walk in the light, [the awareness of truth] as He [God] is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanses us from all sin.” [Brackets added]

          The indication here is that those who embrace and respond to an awareness of God’s interpretation of reality, through the Spiritual transformation which Christ offers, are brought to a true friendship – a true oneness of mind and heart – with God. And, they are thereby cleansed from the ingrained sin essence (that inner motive to interpret good and evil for our self). Such are the children of the Light.  (Ref. 1 John 1:7 NKJV)

          And then, there is the satanic economy: peopled by the children of the Darkness. Again, these are those who are duped by Satan’s treacherous pitch for self-sufficiency. Now, motivated by that delusion, these people of the Darkness, assert a personal sovereignty, as described earlier, over their own lives. And this assertion of their right to self-determine actually becomes the universal identifier of those who belong to the Dark Economy.

          And, this personal sovereignty, which so clearly identifies the subscribers to the Darkness, is always initiated in the same way. It is done by making one’s own self-developed value system, the highest interpretive authority. This was Satan's “Eden Prescription” for Adam and Eve, and through them, for mankind. 

          So, always, when it comes to interpreting life’s day-to-day issues, the children of the Darkness refer to their own Satan-inspired, self-concentric value system, rather than to the divine values gained through Christ. Again, they simply embrace their own subjective view of good and evil in life.

          Yet, this independent approach to life remains nothing more than it was in the Garden of Eden. It is still only a deceitful misdirection, based in a lying satanic whisper, which causes the gullible to entrust themselves to themselves – and thereby, to utterly fail.

          So, it’s this delusion of self-sufficiency which Christ’s redemptive love continues to target. His intention is to draw to Himself, in love, those who have embraced this life approach, to set them free from the deceptive and destructive attraction of this idea. Thus, Jesus would say on one occasion, about those who would respond to His loving outreach, “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (Ref. John 8:32 NKJV)

          And, this redemptive intention of the Living Jesus to enlighten and renew is never more clearly stated than to the apostle, Paul. On the day that Christ commissioned Paul to go and proclaim the Lord's love to the broader world, Jesus said to the apostle, “… I will deliver you from the Jewish people, as well as from the Gentiles, to whom I now send you, to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.” (Ref. Acts 26:17-18 NKJV)

A Review of the Basic Facts

          In truth then, when viewed in its simplest terms, this conflict between God and Satan is, indeed, entirely about Influence. Remembering that Influence is always all about the power to shape reality to your own designs (control), it becomes obvious that this is exactly what God and Satan are competing to do in this world. 

          God, as the Ultimate Influence, would establish a physical reality that is shaped by His benevolent interpretation of good and evil. And, Satan would have a reality which is spun according to his sinister specifications. Thus, both are simply intending to exert their influence upon this physical reality to shape it to their own designs.

          And, the surrounding basics are these. God is the almighty and all-knowing Creator who has brought all things into being. Thus, He is the only legitimate ruler over His creation. And, in reality, He is the only being who is actually equipped for and capable of filling this complex governing role as an all-knowing God. 

          So, it becomes obvious why God would hold that only His interpretations of life should be understood to be Truth – the correct interpretation of reality (of good and evil). It’s because He created this reality. And thus, He owns the right to shape and interpret its daily operations. And, He intends to do so in a way which brings true and enduring goodness to the whole of His creation. 

          However, as already mentioned, reality can be interpreted in infinitely varied ways in opposition to God’s interpretation. And therein lies the sadder facts of this conflict; and, they are these.

          First, Satan is a treacherous and entirely self-serving interloper. The uncomplicated intention of Satan is to seize control of this physical world for himself and shape it to his own dark designs, as mentioned. 

          And, when it comes to determining good and evil, Satan’s basic ideas are very simple. His ultimate idea of good is this: That, he should be in absolute control over all things in this world. And, his ultimate idea of evil is just as uncomplicated. It is this: Evil is any opposition to his own dark whims

          So, in stark contrast to God’s benevolent intentions, Satan’s selfish intention is to simply achieve his own supremacy over this world. And, he is completely careless of the cost in human suffering to achieve this end.

The Satanic Strategy Of Conquest 

          As Satan has pursued this control over the physical world through the ages, his deceptive strategy has, by this late hour in history, become fairly transparent. Step one was simply to reject God’s interpretative authority and usurp for himself The Right to Self-Interpret regarding the physical reality. 

          Then, beginning in the Garden of Eden, he sought to deceive mankind into embracing this same idea. And, this strategic deception to gain man’s philosophical alliance had, and has, a simple purpose. It is to remove God’s most significant influence in this physical world – the influence He holds in the heart of mankind.

          Thus, from the moment of that first temptation in The Garden, this, so called, Right of Self-determination has become the seditious battle cry of Satan and the deluded ranks which choose to follow his lead. And, from that time, he has continued to constantly cultivate this rebellious philosophy in this world. So, the rebellion of the Darkness is simply one which opposes God’s interpretative authority, His right to establish truth for mankind. 

          Thus, Satan dupes as many as he possibly can into opposing God in this way – convincing them to embrace the self-sovereign lifestyle. His seditious whisper is always, in essence, the same: This is your life. So, you should be the one to decide what’s good for you and what you would reject. You really are your own best hope for personal fulfillment.

When The Facts Are In 

          So, when the facts are all in, this is, absolutely, a conflict which is all about Influence. It is all about who holds the power (has enough influence) to interpret (shape) reality to their own preferences. And, it is about to whom each of us, will confide our own “influential weight” as the smaller players in this conflict of influence.

Beyond The Mechanics

          So, these are the basic mechanics of this conflict between God and Satan which has so dramatically affected the whole of the human family. But, in the course of our everyday existence, this conflict is usually perceived, not so much in terms of these underlying mechanics, as in simply – the quality of our daily life. 

          And, there is a stark contrast between the children of the Light and the children of the Darkness in this regard. For example, embracing God’s love and values through our Spiritual baptism into Christ means that God’s children never walk alone. 

          It means that, as you share in the living essence of Christ, you will never again face another life challenge without His help – operating either in the background or foreground of that life’s circumstance. It means that you will never have to face even one day, depending only upon yourself, or forsaken to the dilemmas of your own weaknesses. 

          Rather, to embrace the redemption which Christ offers through the Spiritual baptism is to know a truly comforting and empowering friendship with the Almighty. And, from this devoted league of two comes a daily flow of confidence and synergistic energy which changes everything in life. 

          For example, when we can walk around in the context of this constant divine reassurance: I love you; and I’ve got your back, it allows us to assume a much more manageable and comfortable level of responsibility in life. 

          Thus, Jesus would say, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Ref. Matthew 11:28-30 NKJV)

          And, we can afford to take advantage of this invitation to confide the heavy lifting to Him simply because we understand that God is managing for us on the larger plane of life. So, having confidence in His graceful love for us, we are able to confide ourselves to the higher competency of His divine friendship.

A Loving Relationship 

        Of Both Limits and Latitude

          Certainly, when it comes to relaxing our own grip and offering control of our life to God in this way, there are some issues which are already completely settled. Indeed, there are some issues in a life with God which neither allow for nor require a lot of discussion. These are typically the big moral issues such as “Thou shalt do no murder,” etc. Obviously, no need for a lot of superfluous gab here. 

          So, the “Big 10” and other clear and important moral directives in the Bible are, indeed, settled issues. All that really remains in this case is to whole-heartedly embrace these in Christ as a part of the divine value system. 

          But, life has many more issues than just these pinnacle issues. And, from this remaining multitude of everyday practical and situational concerns, flows a loving and transformative give-and-take with our Divine Friend and Parent. And this loving interaction becomes the discovery process which enlarges our view of God and deepens our appreciation of who He really is in a much broader way. 

          And, this daily relational access and exchange is also the means by which we are matured in Christ. This is that temporal (time based) transformative process, mentioned earlier. It is this daily exchange which brings full definition to the new value system which Christ brings to us in infant form through the Spiritual baptism. 

The Real Picture Of Our Friendship

          So, in our friendship with God, it is not that He demands that we entirely abdicate any role, whatsoever, in the direction of our own lives. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. 

          Our capacity to make intellectual and moral decisions is what distinguishes us as a creature. And, God, Himself, built that capacity into us as a distinctive enhancement to our species. So, it has always been His intention that we grow exponentially in that capacity and constantly employ it in our daily decision making. 

          But certainly, it was never God’s intention that this capacity should become self-contained and twisted into a rebellious wedge of self-determination to separate us from His love and daily friendship. Rather, when it comes to interpreting life, God’s simple intent is that our relationship to Him should be that of a very aware, and beloved, and highly respected, and very respectful child. 

          One would certainly expect that such an articulate child would naturally bring preferences, and ideas, and inclinations to the table. But, such a child would also happily consult with and respond to the wisdom (the values) of his Father in a loving give-and-take fashion. 

          And so it is in our interaction with our Divine Father and Friend. Our relationship involves both limits and latitude. It is an interaction which absolutely thrives within the relational latitudes of love and faith – allowing for broad personal expressions. But, true love and true faith, by design, never rise to the level of actually challenging the Father’s ultimate authority, His final say, over every issue of life. 

          And, in truth, in a healthy relationship with God, our interactions rarely come anywhere near the place where He is required to put His divine foot down. Certainly, they can occasionally go there, especially in the early years of our Spiritual growth. But, as time goes by and maturity happens, those instances tend to simply fade away in the face of our growing heart-oneness with Him. 

          In spite of how the Darkness paints it, such intense confrontations are just simply not the everyday norm in our relationship with God. Once we truly embrace God, as God, eventually, we rarely have to be reminded that He is. And so, the truer reality is that most of our days are merely spent enjoying Him and all that He brings to our life.

It’s Just Love Finding Its Way

          I can remember an incident with my own Dad which fleshes out, somewhat, this idea of a loving and healthy daily exchange. This incident involved an impatient 16 year old (me) who was ready to own the road in his very own first car. So, I set my cap to convince my Dad that, “It’s time.”

          As I was preparing my arguments, I never doubted that my Dad loved me and wanted the best for me. I also never doubted that, ultimately, he was absolutely on my side; and that, when we sat down, we would just be settling and clarifying the details of what that meant in this instance.

          I was also not at all unclear that there was absolutely no future in going out of bounds in my upcoming presentation. Out of bounds was the place where disrespect for my Dad’s ultimate parental authority lived. You could push my Dad’s love buttons all day in pursuit of your goals. But, you dare not push that disrespect button even once. 

          So, by my sixteenth year, we had both become fairly comfortable with this relational brinkmanship. In fact, within the safe boundaries of our love and respect for each other, we actually, I think, both enjoyed managing life together in this way. 

          And, I learned. In a thousand ways through this give-and-take, my Dad invited me to see a more adult perspective on life, and to better understand manhood and what that role really entailed. So always, I grew as my immaturity bumped up against my Dad’s maturity. And, I came to appreciate, all the more, who he really was through this process.

          But, for me, tonight’s upcoming discussion was not about any of that stuff. It was just about getting some wheels – ASAP. So, I spent the day getting ready for the contest to come that evening.

          My Dad worked swing shift in those days. And, he would typically arrive home around 11:00 PM. So, sitting around the kitchen table while he ate a bedtime snack, had gradually become the circumstance of these little Summit Talks. Thus, at the earliest possible second after he was seated on this night, I started in. 

          And, as soon as I started in, my Dad raised his big hand to stop me. Obviously, as Dad’s are known to do, he had seen what was coming through those eyes in the back of his head. So, it would seem he had also been putting his presentation together in anticipation of mine.

          Thus, as it turned out, this time, he got the first word. He said, “Now, just wait a minute. Before you start, I just want to ask you one question: Have I ever, in your whole life, advised you wrongly?”

          Well, for a brief second, I thought I had him. Obviously, all I had to do was point out one significant incident where he had been fallible, and I would gain huge standing in this discussion. 

          But, wouldn’t you know it. For the life of me, I could not do so. I had nothing.  I would have given almost anything to be able to come up with even one significant error on his part. But, I had nothing.

          Long story short, my Dad already had a plan for my driving future which was much sounder than mine. And, by the time he finished his outline, it even impressed me. 

          However, as you might expect of a sixteen year old, I tried very hard not to let that part show. Nevertheless, though Dad’s plan involved a short waiting period (the hard part), it did end with his agreement to help me get my first brand new car (the really good part).

          Dad and I had a lot of these “summits” over the years. And sometimes my point of view did prevail. And sometimes he carried the day.

          And, sometimes, I think probably most of the time, things ended in a very embraceable compromise, as on this occasion. But, whatever the outcome, I can see now that I was always benefited by those relational exchanges.

          And, I have now had more than a few of those with my own four children as they were growing up. And, out of all of those exchanges – some, pretty intense, and some, not so much – sometimes I prevailed, and sometimes my love for them enabled their point of view to prevail. 

          It is just the good way of good relationships. And, when it’s done right, always, discovery happens. And, that discovery, within the bounds of respect, then deepens our love and appreciation for each other. Thus, the bonds are strengthened by these daily relational exchanges. And this is true, whether we’re talking father and son, or God and man. 

          So is God’s intention. It is to restore us, though Christ, to an appropriate level of shared responsibility for determining the direction of our life. And in this interest, He absolutely relishes a meaningful and productive exchange on life’s issues – but always within the bounds of respect for His ultimate authority (faith).

So, indeed, for us, there are both limits and latitude when it comes to determining the day-to-day issues of our life with our loving Heavenly Father. 

The Evidence Of Intent

          Obviously, Almighty God could easily build a wonderful robot, if mindless obedience was what he desired. But, he chose, instead, to have a faith-based relationship with human beings. His preference was to interact with a beloved creature who could not only probe the wisdom of His life interpretations, but could actually have an impact on them – all without ever necessarily challenging His ultimate authority. 

          Thus, within the realm of faith (influential humility), we are absolutely encouraged to enter into this daily exchange with Him. This is the substance of a meaningful, daily relationship. And it is certainly a vital part of the mechanism of our transformation in Christ.

          So, when it comes to His children, God is not, after all, the autocrat which Satan and worldly unbelievers often paint Him to be. He is, in truth, a loving and devoted “Raiser” of His respectful children – perfectly willing to listen and respond to their point of view on the debatable life issues - which is, by far, most of the issues we encounter. Thus, the Bible states that, “the effectual, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.”

The Contrast Of Satan’s Way

          Obviously, this humility-based, interactive growth process within a loving relationship is hugely different than asserting one’s “right” to self-determine. This loving and respectful exchange actually stands in sharp contrast to the self-sufficient attitude and lifestyle which Satan would bring upon us. 

The Downside Of Self-Sufficiency 

          The self-sufficient lifestyle is, after all, one which is very burdensome and lonely, at best. It is made to be so, simply by its essential nature – the entirely me-based responsibility for our own survival. 

          Unavoidably, Satan’s self-directed lifestyle offering always places us in an out-front position in life. This, then, results in constant personal exposure. And this high level of jeopardy finally just enslaves us to the relentless pressures of self-preservation.

          And, beyond stressing our relationship with God, this “all-on-me perspective” on life also tends to stress our relationship with those around us. And, how could it not, when we are forced to strategically compete with others to secure ourselves? 

          Thus, from the general public, to our co-workers, to friends, and even our spouse, we encounter this competitive conflict as we attempt to establish our own security. And, this relational abrasion, then tends to push us apart from those around us.

          But again, in contrast to such a tense and, ultimately, lonely lifestyle, there is this reassuring embrace which God offers through the Spiritual baptism. And, from this unique divine embrace, comes a thorough reprieve from these lonely struggles for self-preservation – even the deep, dark ones. 

          So, again, whether it is the draining daily competition, a latent and unexplainable anger, some ugly and uncontrollable appetite, or perhaps some unresolved guilt, etc. Whatever the case, an enlightened life, lived in the power of the indwelling Christ means – It’s all solvable.

          The truth is, a life lived in the vitality of the character essence of Christ is always on an ever upward journey. Under His care and direction, newness of heart always comes. And from that inner renewal flows a whole new lifestyle – a graceful lifestyle of love, and pervasive joy, and durable confidence. 

          Thus, the living Savior, empowering from within, truly becomes our means of escape from the relentless pressures and loneliness of the Darkness (the self-interpreted life). We are, by God’s grace (innate goodness) in Christ, liberated from the previous dark patterns of our own stupidity. We are set free from the devilish lies and silly delusions which have, before, led only to emptiness. 
But, The “Mechanics” Remain Important

          So, beyond the mechanics which govern the spiritual economies of the Light and the Darkness, there rises this very real, and simple, and heartwarming everyday relationship with God. And, it is probably safe to say that most people perceive God, and the metaphysical life dimension as a whole, in this mostly intuitive / emotional way. Certainly, fewer, by far, go to the trouble to carefully search out the underlying mechanics of these more intuitive perceptions. 

          But, as we consider this great conflict between God and Satan, it becomes obvious that understanding those mechanics is actually a huge help. When we note the treachery of the Darkness, it becomes obvious that, indeed, we need to grasp more than just the warm and fuzzy to manage well though this conflict. So, obviously, it really helps to be able to clearly connect the realities in play in the larger dimension of life to their inevitable impact on our everyday physical life.

The State Of The World At War

          So, it becomes simple, really. To embrace Satan’s dark philosophy of an independently guided life is to be forced into a competitive lifestyle of self-preservation – never knowing God’s sustaining friendship. And yet, even though we may struggle diligently to sustain ourselves, the satanic prescription for life always turns out the same. At the end, personal autonomy always leaves us destitute and sitting in an acrid puddle of our own deep regret. 

          But, to embrace God’s heart and live in the light of His daily friendship and blessing is, indeed, the “Shining Redemption.” It is the redemption of our soul. But, it is also the joyous redemption of our present life condition, and the restoration of a truly fulfilling future. 

The Central Issue - The Range Of Responses

          So, the battle lines are drawn in this physical world. And the ranks of the Light and the ranks of the Darkness are set in place around only one essential issue: “Who gets to determine truth?” Who is the real authority when it comes to the correct interpretation of life’s good or evil? Who gets to shape reality according to their interpretation of the facts?

          Within the Economy of the Light, that question is always answered with a faith response (influential humility) made consistent by Christ. And that humility always embraces and implements God’s truth (God’s interpretation of good and evil) regarding the issues of life - moral and practical. 

          And, the Dark Economy also answers consistently, too. Believing themselves to have the higher conscience, and thus, the unfettered right of to follow it, the Darkness always answers essentially this way regarding good and evil. ”I will determine good and evil for myself – to please myself and relinquish that right to no one - not even God.” 

          So, the embracers of Satan’s Dark Economy march in a thousand chaotic directions through this life. They murder babies in their mother’s womb. They would legitimize homosexuality as normal behavior. 

          They use and attempt to legitimize the use of mind-numbing, soul-killing drugs. They produce media filth. In unwitting service to the dark cause, they devise, and commend to the world, false religions which serve only to confuse others and obscure God’s truth.

          They embrace every kind of intellectual, philosophical, and moral perversion – calling it all, “good,” “the actions of the higher conscience and superior consciousness.” Thus, they embrace and propagate every vulgar and ugly thing.

          They employ brutality and oppression, political and otherwise, to ever facilitate the control of the Darkness over humanity. So, from Mohammad’s ISIS, to Hitler’s Nazism, to Stalin’s Communism, to the dark minded leaders of American Socialist Progressivism, the deluded ranks of Satan’s children make every effort to advance his militant grip upon this world. 

The “Dark Light”

          But, more deceived yet, are those children of Satan’s cause who go much more responsibly about their days. They do charitable things. They are conscientious in business. They give back. 

          They attend to religion. They carefully contribute to the general well-being of those around them and their society. And yet, for all of their “goodness,” these are even the more victimized by the treacherous subtlety of the Darkness. 

          This is true because they are operating under perhaps the most subtle of all of Satan’s misdirection’s. It is the idea that God’s approval stems from the intrinsic quality of our “good” works. But, in fact, that is not the case. 

          Rather, as we have noted, God’s approval only ever flows from the answer to the basic question, “God-directed or Self-determined?”   So, when determining the worth of “good works” the criteria becomes, ”Who is directing the heart which is directing those works?” 


          God’s approval is first, always, and only, an issue of faith (influential humility). So, if our good works are merely the product of a responsible, but, nevertheless, still self-directed life, then, they do not commend us to God’s favor in the least. 

          Thus, as these poor, deluded souls confidently guide themselves through their “good life,” they are really, unknowingly, only the saddest example and most unsuspecting victims of Satan’s subtle deceit. So, Jesus would lament on one occasion, “…If therefore the light that is in you is darkness, how great is that darkness!” (Ref. Matthew 6:23 NKJV)

A Bedrock Truth

          Perhaps, it is these particular children of the Darkness, with their self-righteous blind spot, which most powerfully remind us of a bedrock truth. It is this. If a Christ-empowered faith (influential humility before God) is the only bringer of God’s approval, then the reverse is also true. The motive of self-determination is ever the essential sin motive which keeps us from a relationship with God – regardless of how it expresses itself in our life actions. 

          And certainly, it is, in fact, obvious that the actions of a self-directed life are simply not always “ugly” – at least, from the human point of view. Sometimes, the self-guided lifestyle does, indeed, veneer itself with very attractive behavior which is very responsible and even charitable or religious. 

          However, this reality remains. A beautifully cultured, but nevertheless, self-directed life, is still, in fact, a life of insensitivity to God’s guiding authority. And, as such, this seemingly “good life” still alienates and insulates us from a meaningful relationship with Him and endangers the soul. 

          Thus, the Bible records these words of Jesus in this regard. “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’” (Ref. Matthew 7:21-23 NKJV)

Again, The Friendship Key

          With these words, Jesus clearly confirms the dangers of this nice looking but self-righteous insensitivity. But, he also clearly confirms the indispensable value of a humble and responsive friendship with God through Christ. 

          Christ’s simple prediction here is that there will be those in the judgment who will be surprised by His rejection. Again, this will happen because they mistakenly believe that the intrinsic value of their “good” works will commend them to God. 

          But, Jesus leaves no doubt that this will not be the case. And further, in dismissing these deluded people, He defines the underlying problem. He says, “I never knew you…”

          The word for “knew,” which Jesus used in this passage, is “Ginosco” in the original Greek language.  In the Greek, this word means, “A deep and intimate knowing.” 

          So, the idea which Jesus is expressing is that these misguided souls do not share with Him the heart-binding commons of an intimate friendship. In real terms, what is missing is the influential humility to truly forsake their own values and embrace the divine values through the shared character essence of the Living Christ – thus enabling a true response to the divine will – instead of merely expressing their own will though self-initiated “good” works.

The Emergent Reality 

          So, this reality emerges again. A true friendship with God always necessarily begins with a foundation of personal faith (a sensitive and responsive humility of influence before Him). But, this foundation of the God / man relationship cannot be self-designed. It must arise from the believer’s true embrace of the Lordship of Christ – the only form of humility which God initially recognizes.  Then, from this authenticating gesture of humility, our friendship with God rises. 

          So, self-contained “good” works amount to only a sham self-righteousness. But, in reality, these lack the essential Christ-supplied building blocks of a real friendship with God.  And thus, God’s approval simply cannot be had in this self-designed way.  Nevertheless, the propagation of this false efficacy of self-based “good” works is, indeed, a subtle treachery which Satan is able to very effectively employ every day in countless misguided lives. 

Satan, Hunter Of Souls

          So, this is the larger life picture. And, these are the issues surrounding Satan and the dark economy which he leads. And, this is the nature of the far-flung conflagration which he has initiated – both in the physical and the metaphysical dimensions of life. 

          And, in fact, none of us can abstain from the necessities which this conflict has brought upon us. We must, and we all do choose to embrace the light of God’s truth or the darkness of Satan's delusions. And, we do so, either as a matter of volition (willfully) or by our negligent passiveness.


          But, be that as it may, The Great Lie of self-sufficiency remains just that, - the Great Lie. And, Satan's attractive subterfuge is as empty, deceitful, and devastating to the human soul and quality of life as it has ever been. 

          Nevertheless, even in this late hour of history, that smooth and affable voice still whispers from the darkness on the stage of the redemptive drama, “Come on, entrust yourself to yourself. You really are your own best hope for personal fulfillment.” And, the gullible do, indeed, still succumb in very large numbers to emerge as the most tragic figures in this life and death drama.

                      Continue to Section 7