Satan’s Smokescreens

It occurred to me recently that maybe this idea that “The world is getting worse every day…Satan is gaining ground all the time…It’s all headed to hell in a handbasket” might actually be just want the enemy wants us to believe.

The Scriptures tell us that “The Kingdom of God is forcefully advancing” and to pray “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”  So, which is it?  Is God’s kingdom advancing–is it coming more and more fully to earth every day, as we’re commanded to ask for (which implies that it’s actually possible)?  Or is Satan winning?

Some would probably say: “Both.”  And they might be right. In a sense.

But I can’t help but wonder if all the sinfulness that we see apparently taking over the world isn’t just Satan’s desperate attempt at a smokescreen, a diversion…to keep us from seeing the real picture.

What if, as the Scriptures seem to suggest, God’s kingdom really is gaining ground all the time?  What if His rule and reign are being implemented and manifested more and more as history progresses?  I know it doesn’t “look” like that’s what’s happening, especially if you read/watch the news on a daily basis.  But what the news never addresses–nor is it probably capable of doing so–is what’s happening in people’s hearts.  In the midst of whatever today’s tragedy is, what is God doing that can’t be seen or known in a brief camera shot?  Are hearts opening up more to Him?  Are people understanding His character in deeper ways?  Is someone finally surrendering their life to Him after years of resisting His love and sovereignty?

(Please don’t get me wrong–I don’t mean to minimize the many terrible things that are happening the world today.  While the media may tend toward the sensational, many of the events we hear about are truly tragic and deserve our compassion and Holy Spirit-led response.)

But perhaps all this “bad news” that we’re surrounded with and assailed by every day is more than anything a diversion tactic to keep us from an awareness of what’s really happening–that God is moving, that His purposes are being advanced.  Or perhaps, as my friend Nina pointed out to me, it’s not just that these things are smokescreens–perhaps Satan’s kingdom actually is advancing, but maybe God’s is too.  We have always thought the two were mutually exclusive, but in God’s amazing redemptive plan for our world, maybe–just maybe–Satan’s victories are not God’s losses? (e.g. the Cross?)

As Tolkien says metaphorically in The Silmarillion:

It seemed at last that there were two musics progressing at one time before the seat of Ilúvatar [God], and they were utterly at variance. The one was deep and wide and beautiful, but slow and blended with an immeasurable sorrow, from which its beauty chiefly came. The other had now achieved a unity of its own; but it was loud, and vain, and endlessly repeated; and it had little harmony, but rather a clamorous unison as of many trumpets braying upon a few notes. And it essayed to drown the other music by the violence of its voice, but it seemed that its most triumphant notes were taken by the other and woven into its own solemn pattern.

What do you think?  Can Satan’s victories actually be God’s victories as well?  Or are Satan’s apparent victories intended as much to distract us from God’s ever-growing kingdom as they are to actually harm us?  I’d love to hear your comments. I welcome agreement, disagreement, alternate perspectives, et al. (preferably written with good intentions.)


6 thoughts on “Satan’s Smokescreens”

  1. I agree that Satan wants us to think he is winning. He wanted Jesus to think he was winning when he tempted him too. He offered him all sorts of victories, but Jesus saw right through them.

    I also agree that God works through all situations, good and bad for the betterment of all who love Him. While God hasn’t stopped Satan outright yet, He has promised a greater victory that we can all be a part of.

    See Romans 8:26-35 and tell me you are not inspired by what we will overcome. Victory has to mean something — and in a way — our mistakes in life and Satan’s greatest tricks allow us to truly value the lengths God is willing to go to draw us to Him, and grow us into mighty men and women of God.

    Romans 8: 26-35
    “26 In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; 27 and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

    28 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. 29 For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; 30 and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.

    31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? 32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? 33 Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; 34 who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. 35 Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?”

    1. “Our mistakes in life and Satan’s greatest tricks allow us to truly value the lengths God is willing to go to draw us to Him.” This is so good. Every time I find myself doubting God or turning to the attractions of this world instead of His heart-and then He draws me back to Himself again and reminds me of His steadfast love and how much sweeter He is than any temporal satisfaction-I end up so incredibly in awe of Him, that He could keep loving me and wanting me and drawing me close even when I wander and wound His heart over and over again. He is so good.

  2. So many thoughts–maybe we’ll get a chance to discuss later. While God says that things will get worse and worse as He brings this earth to a close, I look at history, and our world is in some ways better now. I wonder sometimes if we use the “Jesus must be returning soon” mentality as an excuse not to advance the kingdom heartily because it’s “hopeless.” If we focus on the truths of grace instead–beauty from ashes, for instance–it’s easier to see God’s redemptive plan in action, His kingdom here on Earth, and get excited about participating! Perhaps what you’re referring to is actually the core of the gospel — “…where sin abounded, grace abounded much more….” (Rom 5:20) Our King will always trump Satan. This morning I was reminded how Satan did not enter Judas until given permission by Jesus himself. The beauty of redemption couldn’t be better and is only possible because of brokenness, courtesy of Satan…or is it courtesy of God? Mind blowing.

    1. Mind blowing indeed! And the more I comprehend His gift of redemption, the more peace I find in my life… knowing that He really is able to pick up all these broken pieces, to make all things work together for our good. It’s amazing!

  3. Hmm, interesting. I think I agree. I like the analogy from Tolkein. It also reminds me a bit of the plot in Lewis’ The Last Battle. The Ape was a great deceiver.

    1. Yes, that’s true! The kids and I are working through The Horse and His Boy now and I can hardly wait to get on to The Magician’s Nephew (we read it 6th instead of 1st) and The Last Battle. I’m looking forward to the discussions sparked by The Last Battle especially.

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