We hear it in church often enough…and the children in our school hear it plenty – this business about “sin, death and the devil.”
The “sin” is easy enough to spot – in our homes, in our hearts, on the playground. And “death” forces us to admit its power as we carry loved ones to the cemetery.
But when we teach the children to pray Luther’s morning and evening prayers – asking “that the wicked foe may have no power over me,” – how real is all of this in our so-called “post-Christian age?”
We get no further in Genesis than the 3rd chapter and we meet the wicked foe in serpent’s form, hissing his lethal doubts into the heart of Eve.
By the 15th verse of chapter 3, the battle is joined. Christ and Satan both draw their swords as the promise rises from the ancient page: A Hero born of woman will crush the serpent with His heel.
The book of Job portrays the calamities of that ancient sufferer in terms of Satan making a bid for Job’s very soul.
On the threshold of the New Testament, Christ and Satan are locked in deadly embrace in the wilderness temptations. Eerie cases of demon possession stalk the Savior’s path. The Gospels clearly distinguish between the diseases Jesus cured and the demons which Jesus “drove out.”
Describing the victory of His everlasting gospel, Jesus said: “I was watching Satan fall like lightning from heaven” (Luke 10:18 EHV). Bluntly, the Bible says of Judas that “Satan entered into him” (John 13:27 EHV).
St. Peter writes: “Have sound judgment. Be alert. Your adversary, the Devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8 EHV ). St. John says: “The one who continues to sin is of the Devil, because the Devil has been sinning from the beginning. This is why the Son of God appeared: to destroy the works of the Devil” (1 John 3:8 EHV). Revelation depicts the devil’s defeat: “The great dragon was thrown down—the ancient serpent, the one called the Devil and Satan, the one who leads the whole inhabited earth astray” (Revelation 12:9 EHV).
If we are going to teach our children about heaven, then we will have to teach them about the eternal alternative – hell. How much greater is our joyful appreciation of our salvation by Christ when we know from what Christ has saved us – and from whom!