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Dear Friends 

CS Lewis famously said this about the devil: “There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devil. One is to disbelieve in his existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in him.” He went on to suggest that the devil is equally pleased by either error. 

 

I wonder where you would fall on this spectrum. Do you come close to ignoring his existence? Or are you over-interested; over-fearful, even? 

 

Having visited Kenya and Uganda a number of times over the years, I am a little bit familiar with the over-interest and fear, regarding evil spiritual beings, that is common to so much of Africa. This can lead to all sorts of speculation and paranoia. There is often an unhealthy interest in the devil and

demons, and for some this leads to a fatalism and a paralysis affecting much of life. 

 

In the West, of course, the tendency is to go in the opposite direction. For many the devil is a jokey figure, with red eyes and a trident. Witchcraft is a bit of fun, or maybe ‘just your thing’. 

But the battle is real. 

 

A number of factors, recently, have reminded me of the reality of spiritual beings, both good and evil, who are completely under God’s sovereign control, but who are also powerful and affect our lives, for good or ill. Perhaps the best known example of this reality, in Scripture, are these words from Paul: 

 

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. (Ephesians 6:12) 

 

Paul does not mean that people (flesh and blood) cannot be our enemies, and that we need not struggle with them. Of course they can be. Many people and systems are enemies of the gospel. No, his point is that behind what we can see, there is a deeper, invisible, spiritual reality—in ‘the heavenlies’. There is the devil, and his cohorts, opposed to us. We do well to be aware of this. 

 

What, then should we do? Paul gives us two answers: stand; and pray. 

 

Stand firm in what we believe. Keep trusting the gospel. Hold fast to Jesus. Don’t be moved from your hope. 

 

And pray. That is our weapon. We are not called to analyse evil. We are not called to map it out, or speculate, or engage in some special plan. Our weapon is prayer. 

 

So I have been encouraged to pray into this battle a little bit more knowingly and deliberately. We have an enemy who would love to ruin the work of the gospel in St John’s and Clayton Brook. Let’s (1) stand firm together, and (2) pray into the battle. 

Y

our brother in Christ 

Philip 

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