Daily Reform, Day 198

Galatians 2:21 & Romans 12:14-21

From the Reformer

Paul calls the Galatians foolish and bewitched. In the fifth chapter he mentions sorcery among the works of the flesh, declaring that witchcraft and sorcery are real manifestations and legitimate activities of the devil. We are all exposed to the influence of the devil, because he is the prince and god of the world in which we live.

—Martin Luther, Commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians

Pulling It Together

Recently, polls showed that roughly 90 percent of Americans believe in God. What God they believe in is another matter. Of those same American “believers,” less than half of them believe in the existence of an embodiment of evil—what you might name Satan. C. S. Lewis wrote that there are “two equal and opposite errors” about the devil. One is to not believe that he exists. The second mistake is to believe he exists but to have an “excessive and unhealthy interest” in him. Lewis concluded that the devil is as equally pleased whichever way you think of him.

One of the ways we are bewitched by these errors about evil is by thinking we can do anything to fix the problem. Indeed, this notion is beyond foolishness or even witchcraft. Granted, we may (and should) overcome some evils by doing good deeds. For example, we can overcome thirst and disease by supporting water projects in developing countries. We can conquer hunger by feeding people. We can even prevail over some acts of brutality with kindness. In fact, we can overcome any single evil by not repaying that evil act with an additional evil deed. But we can never overcome evil. To think that we can do something definitive about evil, even the wickedness in our own lives, is to set ourselves up as gods. For only God can do something about the existence of evil. This he has done by sending his own precious Son into the world. Jesus has overcome the world and with it, the evil that was within you. Take heart and know the peace that is Jesus. (John 16:33)

© Mark E. Ryman, Daily Reform: Devotions with the Reformers

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