We Wrestle Not with Flesh and Blood
It was the coldest day of the winter as I trudged through the parking lot of the local Wal-Mart. Out of the corner of my eye I saw the young man, nicely dressed, approach the young lady as she was headed to her car. I silently thanked God that he had chosen her and not me, and before my prayer was through, I was approached by the second young man, “Sir, can I share with you the good news of Jesus Christ?” As I opened my car door I replied, “No, what you need to do is repent.” “Repent for believing in Jesus?” he asked. “Yes,” I said, “if He’s not God.” “Are you a Christian then?” he asked.
As I drove away I said a prayer for the young man, that God would be pleased to grant him new life, that He would give this blind fool eyes to see. I also prayed that God would tie the young man’s tongue, lest anyone fall prey to his folly.
The Bible gives us two perspectives by which we ought to see men like this. On the one hand, we are enjoined to compassion. Such once were we, walking by the flesh. There but for the grace of God go we. Men like this are in chains, enslaved.
If we would but look to their master, however, we would begin to understand the second perspective we are called to. It is because we are still susceptible to the swaying power of this slave master that we don’t see him enslaving men like this. That is, we tend to divide the world into three kinds of people. There are the Christians, who have the truth. There are adherents of other religions that are false. And then there are those who love the Devil, who are wicked. There are, however, only two kinds of people in this world, the seed of the serpent, and the seed of the woman. Those who do not serve our king serve the serpent, no matter how respectable they might look. Those well-dressed, young men in the Wal-Mart parking lot are not merely pitiable, misguided fools. They are likewise preying lions, looking for sheep to devour.
This may be hard to swallow, precisely because Latter-Day Saint missionaries are so clean cut. After all, these folks put those family friendly ads on television. They vote pro-life. They look just like us. On the other hand, we may find this believable because, at least so far, Christians still talk about this group as a cult. Our antennae are all a-quiver when we run into these proclaimers of their bad news.
Do we see the serpent at the end of the chain, that the Devil is still the puppet master, when we confront adherents to one of the “great world religions?” I’m afraid we have a more collegial view. We may have our squabbles, but like Harvard, Yale, and Princeton, we also have things in common. Christianity, Judaism, and Islam stand, dignified, far above the riff-raff of modern day cults and sundry manifestations of New Age goofiness.
The truth is that both Judaism and Islam, and for that matter, Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, and the like, have far more in common with the Church of Latter-Day Saints than they have in common with the Christian faith. First, they are all false. They are all lies. Second, they are all lies because they are of their father. When we look back in history to the seventh century, and we see there the birth of Islam, we would do well to recognize the nature of that event. This is not an occasion where a man, in a dispassionate pursuit of truth, fell into some error, and accidentally created a religion that is false. This is neither merely the occasion where a man determined to create a new religion in order to garner political power as an excuse to go on a bloody rampage.
Though our political leaders would have us think so, Islam is not a nice, clean, respectable religion. Our memory is still too fresh to get us to swallow that. It is dirty, however, not because it is bloody. To give the Devil his due, at least in Islam we have a religion that has the courage of its convictions.
Islam, fourteen hundred years after it first began, if it is not there already, is coming to a neighborhood near you. Whether those who practice this faith are rabble-rousing militants, or gentle and middle class members of the local PTA, whether they demand respect at the end of a sword, or demand respect by acting respectable, Christians must not lose sight of who is behind it all. We are at war, not with terror, not with mankind, but with the Devil. “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm” (Eph. 6:12–13).