John 8:44 (NIV) “You belong to your father, the devil…he was a murderer from the beginning!
Ephesians 6:10-12 (NIV) “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”
It seems to have reached epidemic proportions. A highly ranked Navy Admiral takes his life leaving everyone in his family and in his command in shock. A celebrity chef with scores of friends is suddenly gone from suicide. A beautiful and accomplished young newscaster with a husband and young children ends her life too. An evangelical pastor leaves his flock stunned when he ends his life. A young high school football player, popular and bright, is gone in a moment. A fine husband and father overloads from stress and succumbs to suicide as the solution. We are not just reading more about suicide. It is on the increase.
As reported in the Washington Post on June 7, 2018: “Suicide rates rose in all but one state between 1999 and 2016, with increases seen across age, gender, race and ethnicity, according to a report released Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.”
Forty years ago, Alexander Solzhenitsyn gave an address at Harvard where he predicted that the godlessness settling in on the western world would eventually yield a crop of despair. Hopeless and helpless people without any confidence in eternity. Seduced by endless materialism that would promise to give them peace and joy. Indeed, we have entered fully into a re-paganized world complete with radically decreased church attendance and a wholesale mocking of all things Godly. Hence, people of faith and no faith are often victimized by the Spirit of Despair. He … that … whatever this Spirit is … is an actual being sent forth from the evil one to scream into the darkness with a message OF DESPAIR! And he salivates over each image-bearer who gives up on life. He could not kill Jesus so he is glad to kill us!
This makes less sense when a Christian ends his or her life. Despite the horrible sermon recently preached by a theologically challenged Priest here in Michigan, the saved are saved and salvation is not lost when the Christian succumbs to intolerable pain and ends his life. Is it a sin? Yes. Is it the unforgivable sin? Of course not. To suggest that is to make salvation into “works.” The good shepherd might allow one of his own to despair, but he will never lose track of that person’s spirit; they are secure in his keeping.
Is there an answer to all this work of the Devil? How shall we deal with his demons sent out to bring on death on demand? Well, as always, the answer is in genuine revival. As with our endless political acrimony and the tidal wave of terrorism and evil and genocide in the womb … the answer is in revival. Our western world is too sure of itself and filled with godless hubris. Our world needs true revival.
Yet, this is also true. During the great revivals in New England in the 1740’s, Jonathan Edwards reported multiple suicides in his parish. Teen agers and older members of his church. Suddenly and without explanation taking their lives. The Evil One was incensed. With revival came the devil throwing a spiritual tantrum that was visible to all.
What shall we do as Christians? Pray for our families and friends. By name. Specifically. Demanding the evil one leave them alone in the name of Jesus. Communicate with them often and ask about their well-being. But first make sure that we are in tune with the Holy Spirit. We must not neglect our times with God both in prayer and in the Word of God. As Paul said:
“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”
When a godless person ends their life, it is tragic. But for Satan that is not enough. He Really hates God’s people. HE TRULY HATES THOSE WHO PREACH THE GOSPEL. He does everything possible within his powers to destroy and murder. Including sending people within the church to distract and discourage the Pastor. Even push THEM to despair. Therefore, our Lord taught us to pray:
Matthew 6:13 (NIV) “And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from the evil one.”
Current discussion has focused on the idea that “lead us not into temptation” should not be in the prayer because God would never do that. Not so. All the text means is “Please keep us from ever being overwhelmed by temptation.” And we do need deliverance from the evil one. That means we must be careful what we watch and what we find entertaining and whom we are with.
There is a genuine “Spirit of Despair” roaming the earth right now. Probably hundreds of such spirits. Maybe hundreds of thousands. We who have Christ need to pray God’s mercies into our homes and communities. And above all, we need to stay covered by Jesus!
Blessings! Pastor Alberta