Will The Struggle Ever End?
Very few Christians find themselves wrestling with a love for the devil. The likelihood of our being attracted to Satan’s person is more remote than Elijah courting Jezebel. He chills us—leaves us cold. This is not only because of his cruel campaign to torment God, but because there is something inherently foul about him.
Have we not seen this Devil’s destructiveness making a bonfire of past, present and future in one mighty conflagration? Smelt him, rancid-sweet? Touched him, slippery-soft? Measured with the eye his fearful shape? Heard his fearful rhetoric? Glimpsed him, sometimes in a mirror, with drooling, greedy mouth, misty ravening eyes and flushed flesh? Malcolm Muggeridge, Jesus the Man Who Lives (Fontana), p. 51.
We do not love him, but he doesn’t require our direct worship. He’s quite satisfied to remain behind the scenes, bleeding us through his stable of moral harlots. Greed, lust, envy, pride, and a host of others are in his employ. He operates, if you will, as a spiritual pimp. And when one of his “girls” becomes our lover, our attention is focused on the immediate, while his own role is of little concern to us.
The struggle, as we’ve said before, isn’t with the devil. But neither is it with our desire for happiness and pleasure. It’s not the “want to” that constitutes sin, but the “choice to.” It is the choice to gratify a desire in an illegal manner. It’s not the pimp, nor our desire for the girl that dooms us, it’s our choice to lie with her. Sin involves turning our loyalties inside out and giving ourselves to harlotry. And as Christians, it involves even more—it is an issue of faithfulness. “As there can be physical adultery, so too there can be unfaithfulness to the divine bridegroom—spiritual adultery.” Francis Schaeffer, The Church Before the Watching World (Inter-Varsity), p. 41. This is where we feel the tension.
Inside we are aware of God’s burning love for us. We recognize the great cost in redemption and we have experienced His tender concern in our lives. Yet, as desperately as we want to show our gratitude, as deeply as we want to reciprocate by demonstrating our love for Him, we find, rather embarrassingly, that it is—well, a struggle. We know He is the one for us. No one could possibly love us as He does, and yet, it seems we spend so much time contending with the allurements of other loves. Appearing alternately as passionate desire or the easy way out, temptation entices us to “be filled”. I As temptation beckons and seems to say, “You can’t resist for long,” our response is often deep frustration. “If I really loved Him why am I struggling?” Gordon Olson asks “Is there no let-up from these constant struggles? Is there no point that can be reached in Christian experience when intermittent waverings, in our consecration are eliminated, or at least reduced to momentary less passionate departures? Gordon Olson, Sharing Your Faith (Bible Research Fellowship), ch. 12, p. 1. The answer happily is Yes.