One of the best movie lines I ever heard was in a 1995 independent film about a small gang of professional criminals who became so deceived by one of their own, that in the end their greed, malice, and raging fear ended with their deaths. The film was entitled The Usual Suspects. The line is:
The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist.
I think this is one of the most powerfully rich and meaningful lines ever and here’s why: In the world’s economy, where most people live, the devil doesn’t exist. As the storyteller in the movie, Verbal Kint, might say: “he’s a spook story crooks tell their kids at night-rat out on your pop and the devil’s gonna getcha!”
Satan has been reduced to a myth and not the one whom we, on our knees, war against in God’s economy. Similarly, in the world, God has been reduced to myth and legend by much of the world, especially those in the greatest position to glorify the One who created them. Church, religion and demonstrations of faith have become a political sideshow for vote-getting in every nation, I’m afraid.
Some of you are probably asking, “alright Sandmeyer, what’s this world’s economy/God’s economy stuff you’re prattling on about now?”
Allow me a brief explanation of what I think God’s economy is. The world is largely a suffering, rudderless mass, that doesn’t recognize the truth and power of God’s word. Rich, poor, controlling, controlled, even those who think they’re faithful and true to some principle face the same end as their fellow creatures. Where they end up after death is usually a haphazard notion of whatever feels comfortable to their minds and not the immutable truth which those in God’s economy know and, more importantly, live out day to day.
Those living in God’s economy recognize the truth, have been set free to glorify Almighty God and lead others to the source of true wisdom contained in His Word. They live their lives under the divine peace of The Holy Spirit and, as a result, need not participate in the fetid, festering ugliness, avarice and fear in the world’s economy.
Sound harsh? I agree with you but there’s not much to argue with here. All one has to do is look at the daily parade of lunacies that constitute the news to see what we have made of God’s earth.
Even modern theologians find themselves in the world’s economy more than God’s. They could be the best symbol of what has become of the world. They explain too much in the world’s terms and help the world get comfortable with relativistic notions of religion, life, death, heaven, and hell.
Back to deception.
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Ephesians 6:12
Now that was written nearly 2,000 years ago. Can you see what a standard the world has established for itself? Those forces of wickedness in the heavenly places have relocated to our homes, our offices, our marketplaces, our governments, and sometimes even our churches!
Try this on for size:
Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8
And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, 2 in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Ephesians 2:1-2
Think I am deceiving you? Take a look at where you are in life and read on.
It takes a number of things to create deception and here are a few for you to mull over (with a short verse to go with it):
- Confusion-listening to conflicting voices and refusing to submit to the one of higher authority. Psalm 71:1
- Contamination-exposing one’s spirit to uncleanness and ungodliness through sinful conversation. Psalm 101:5
- Foolishness-allowing an evil report (like gossip) to influence your thinking and discernment about people and situations. 1 Timothy 5:13 & Psalm 15:2-3
- Identification-emotionally, intellectually, or spiritually connecting with another individual (this could be good or bad but often the bad or ungodly is the choice). 2 Samuel 15:1-6
- Fear-anxiety producing emotions that lead one to be concerned about losing control. Often brought about by unexpected or poorly handled situations (again, could be good if one has a reverential fear for the right things and submits in the right way). Psalm 2:11 & 19:9
- Impurity-when one receives an evil report and takes it into their spirit as true, despite known evidence to the contrary. Proverbs 29:12 & 2 Samuel 16:5-8
If these six things seem to follow a pattern, congratulate yourself for your astute perception. Now you know the basics of deception with which that roaring lion wishes to entrap and consume you!
Don’t take this lightly, dear reader. The daily battle you and I experience, and wish we didn’t have to, is part of a universal war which will soon come to a climax. We need not be active participants if we are on the right side of this war. Here’s our hope.
Take a look at what The Holy Spirit told the Ephesians after describing our opponents in 2:1-2:
But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. Ephesians 2:4-7
Once again the question begs: Time is short. What will you do with this?