Today we saw in 3D the latest Hobbit movie. It began with a battle that went non-stop throughout. Several times I shuddered and even cried because it vividly displayed spiritual warfare – battles that I’ve fought and that affect so many Christians. These battles are with our own sin (in the movie it was specifically greed), and with evil forces that want to destroy us.
This war began in Eden. “Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, ‘Did God actually say, “You shall not eat of any tree in the garden”?’” (Genesis 3:1) With his suggestions, both the man and the woman disobeyed God. After that, God confronted them, but their responses were also sinful. The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” (Genesis 3:12–13) Both of them refused to own up to their disobedience and shifted the blame.
Not long after that, one of their sons was jealous and angry at his brother so he killed him. God was merciful to a degree, but warned Cain, “. . . If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.” (Genesis 4:6–7) The power of sin had been unleashed and with it came the power of sin to destroy sinners. In the Hobbit movie, this was plain to see as hoards of evil beings attacked those who stood for good.
The biblical story reveals the power of sin and Satan. After sending many prophets to warn and chasten His people for their sin, God sent John the Baptist who preached in the wilderness of Judea saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 3:1–2)
Repentance is turning from sin to God and to do right, but human beings have a tough time with that. Sin is too powerful. I know that by the Word of God and by experience, but I also know the only One who never lost this battle. As John preached repentance, “Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. And the tempter came and said to him, ‘If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.’” (Matthew 4:1–3)
Jesus refused to give in to His own needs. He rejected Satan’s ploys and stood firm. From that time He began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 4:17) He continued the same message John began without any need to repent Himself. However, even as I follow Him, I’m continually tempted to still do my own thing. Serving the Lord will always involve turning from the temptations of Satan and the appeal of sinful desires.
As the movie depicted, sin is never fulfilling. Temptation makes it appear to be rewarding, but the last section of this reading includes: “All things are full of weariness; a man cannot utter it; the eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing.” (Ecclesiastes 1:8) Giving in to evil desires, whether greed or ego-feeding or any other sin, will never satisfy me.
My devotional guide says a sinful person might use anything, even Scripture as Satan did, for personal gain. If I do that, I am acting like Satan — not Christ. I might think that I am being godly, but if I’m not exalting Christ (His virgin birth, suffering, death, resurrection, or continued presence in my life), my words are not about godliness and truth at all.
If I stick with what I want, God also warns me that it was an “I want” that plunged the world into a war with evil that no one can win -– and that is why we need Jesus Christ.