By Norman Midgette
Robert Burns once wrote, “Man’s inhumanity to man makes countless thousands mourn.” What he did not reveal was the cause. All the cruelty this world inflicts on itself is brought about by the fiery zeal and deceitful mind of Satan. Many today are like the deceived Jews of old. Jesus said, “You are of your father the devil, and the lust of your father it is your will to do” (John 8:44). Hope for the Christian is found in the fact that “greater is he that is in you than he that is in the world” (1 John 4:4). This, however, does not protect from trial and persecution; it only invites it.
The resurrection of Christ set the stage for the greatest war of the ages. God said, “And when the dragon saw that he was cast down to the earth, he persecuted the woman that brought forth the man child. . . . And the dragon waxed wroth with the woman, and went away to make war with the rest of her seed, that keep the commandments of God and hold the testimony of Jesus” (Rev. 12:13, 17). As long as the earth stands, this is the foundation for enduring persecution of the church. As long as this dragon roams the earth, he will breath fires of pain on the church and with his claws try to rake it into the ground.
If he cannot do it with twisted words, he will do it with the sharpened sword. He will use intelligent hypocrites in high places or the ignorant masses led around by wolves in sheep’s clothing. He will persecute with the pen and sneer of the humanist, or with the sword, censorship, and jail of the communists. Among our closest friends, in today’s social climate, he has blurred their thinking of what is moral and has them calling that which is right, wrong and that which is bad, good. Our predominate fear is usually of persecution from without, but the greater destruction and carnage against the church in recent generations has been masterminded by Satan from within. Simply reflect on the present institutionalism, liberalism, social gospel programs, and church reorganization through sponsoring elderships and sponsoring churches.
We never know how, where, nor when Satan will attack again so we must build the walls of Zion with the sword of offense in one hand and hold high the shield of defense with the other. He is a relentless enemy, using at times the peace of compromise and in other ages the weapons of death.
However, the promises from the revelation of God and 2000 years of human experience have proven that physical persecution will not destroy the church but is actually a factor helping it grow (Acts 8:4). Since this is the case, does Satan defeat his own cause by persecuting us? Is this a sign of weakness on his part? Seneca, an outstanding Roman Senator and early tutor of Nero, once said, “All cruelty springs from weakness.” Satan has lost and he knows it. The resurrection of Christ proves it. Since Satan has no power to turn a committed mind from God he can only re-sort to the devices of a loser deception, deceit, and death. With these he has been evilly successful.
Our eyes need to be open always to the fact that Satan will use every evil person, law, organization, or government to defeat us. But, he will fail and we will grow, even in persecution, if we remain faithful. He may win a few battles, but we will win the war.
Guardian of Truth XL: No. 19, p. 12
October 3, 1996