This is something that has been on my heart for a long time but I've never quite been able to find the words.
I hear a lot of people who put a lot of belief in The Devil. They credit him with all kinds of bad things, weak thoughts, poor choices. Without realizing it, people often hand over a lot of power to the devil simply because they believe in him so strongly.
The Bible has a lot to say about the devil, too. What's interesting is that it seems that the New Testament has a lot more to say about satan than the Old Testament does.
I think I gave a lot more power to the devil back when I more strongly believed in fear as part of God and religion. Fear of evil was a reason for desperately needing God. Fear of the devil was the reason for clinging to faith and hope in an everlasting and peaceful existence in heaven.
I'm not so sure I believe all of that anymore.
I believe there is evil in the world. I believe in the devil and hell. I also believe that basic human nature causes a lot of our bad decisions and hurtful actions - it isn't always a devilish thing. I don't believe that every negative thought or experience is connected to that bad guy. Sometimes, human beings just make bad choices. Sometimes, DNA is screwed up or chemicals are imbalanced. Sometimes, good intentions go wrong.
I was reading a daily devotional today and it provided this C. S. Lewis quote from The Screwtape Letters:
"I believe [in the existence of the devil] not in the sense that it is part of my creed, but in the sense that it is one of my opinions. My religion would not be in ruins if this opinion were shown to be false. Till that happens—and proofs of a negative are hard to come by—I shall retain it. It seems to me to explain a good many facts. It agrees with the plain sense of Scripture, the tradition of Christendom, and the beliefs of most men at most times. And it conflicts with nothing that any of the sciences has shown to be true."
That first sentence is the one that sparked my attention. "Not in the sense that it is part of my creed, but in the sense that it is one of my opinions." And then I found a lot of power in the next sentence - "My religion would not be in ruins if this opinion were shown to be false."
Wow!! That sums it up, right?
I hear some people talk about fighting the devil like it is a daily battle and I have to wonder... would their understanding of God take a serious hit if someone were able to prove that the devil doesn't exist? Would their faith be shaken if the evil they thought they had been fighting against ended up just being... human nature, people with messed up brain chemistry, a really bad day?
My faith in God is solid. I know what He has done for me through the sacrifice of His Son. I know what Christ taught and I know my purpose in following His teachings.
But the devil? It isn't a matter of faith. Maybe he does exist. Maybe he doesn't. The devil doesn't impact my faith in God, my religion, my creed, my beliefs. Even if he meddles in my affairs and even if he is the one responsible for the tragedies I have survived... his existence doesn't define me.
God's existence does.