By. R.C. Sproul Jr
How easily, because of his craftiness, we confuse Satan and Santa. Their names are indeed anagrams of each other, and they both were obviously told by someone, somewhere along the way that they look good in red. We tend to think, however, that just as Santa carries about a giant bag of goodies, so the devil carries around a giant bag of temptations, that his principle weapon is to tempt us toward illicit pleasures. Truth be told Satan’s name is derived from the word for Accuser. He is far more interested in pointing out our past failures than he is enticing us to new ones.
This in turn serves a number of his other goals. Several years ago I went through a rather unpleasant ecclesiastical tussle. Part of the root of the tussle was sin on my part. Part of the fruit of the tussle was that I found myself needing to repent for those sins. That’s a good thing. It hurt at first, but God forgives sinners like me because Jesus died for sinners like me. Though I have miles to go before I sleep, humiliation can be a difficult but potent means to the glorious end producing the fruit of humility.
One bad fruit, however, was that my remaining pride pushed me to an unhealthy silence. I found myself reluctant to speak up virtually anywhere on the world wide web for fear that my critics would show up, and parade my dirty laundry for all to see. Sometimes disgrace, or fear thereof, rather than discretion, is the better part of valor. I sat on the sidelines, thinking every point I would make would sooner or later be rebutted with, “Don’t listen to him. Don’t you know what he did?”
In God’s grace most of my critics eventually grew weary of beating the dead horse that was my reputation, and moved on to fresh game. And slowly I began to come out of my shell. Every now and again, however, someone still shows up to accuse. And therein comes the second reason for the devil’s stratagem- discouragement. Every time there is another comment I sigh, shake my head, and wonder if, no, fear that these things will never be behind me. Like Pilgrim before me I once again feel the weight on my back, slowing me down on my journey to the Celestial City. I once again feel myself sinking into the Slough of Despond.
Which is a good thing. The Good News, of course, is that Jesus has already overcome the devil. I need not be silent as a teacher and writer, because He is not silent before the Father, but rather calls me His own. I need not either despair, because He has removed my sins as far from me as the east is from the west. There is only one perspective on me that matters in the least, and His says of me today and every day, “You are My son. I love you and will never forsake you.” The pangs that come with the accusations of the devil and his minions are more than salved by the balm of Gilead. They instead become the very savor, the very joy of my salvation. “This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief” (I Timothy 1:15).