To be a disciple of Christ means that we are engaged in a battle against evil. A central tension in the plot of the Gospels is Christ’s battle with the devil and the human opponents who represent him or defend his cause (see the confession at Caesarea Philippi in Matthew 16: 23 concerning Peter’s rebuke) Note that in the Gospel of John Satan enters into Judas (13: 27). In Luke the Gospel writer makes this comment, “And when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from him (Jesus) until the opportune time.” (4: 13 ESV) And later, “”Then Satan entered into Judas called Iscariot, who was of the number of the twelve.” (Luke 22: 3) Throughout the Gospel story Jesus is in combat with demons, the representatives of Satan.
In the Synoptic Gospels before Jesus begins His ministry, He is in conflict with the devil in the wilderness where He overcomes three temptations, that if He had submitted would have undone His messianic mission.
Jesus overcomes the devil and all evil and defeats it through His sacrificial death and resurrection from the dead. At the end of all things the devil finds himself in the lake of fire (Revelation 20). It should be noted that we humans do not overcome evil on our own, but only through the power of God.
One of the dangers in our fight with evil as disciples of Christ is the temptation to sin on behalf of not only a good cause, but the greatest cause, Christ’s defeat of Satan. We may become angrier and angrier at the reality of evil and at the persons who seem to represent evil. Our hearts become cold and hard. Our sympathy for a sinful humanity evaporates. We justify behavior in ourselves with the rationalization that it is necessary in the fight. It can go so far as to make us tools of the devil himself.
It is very important to pray to the Lord for deliverance from red hot anger. Jesus warns us against it. “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder and whoever murders will be liable to judgment. But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council, and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.”(Matthew 5: 21-22 ESV) Now a brother in Matthew is a fellow Christian. “For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.” (Matthew 12: 50 ESV) But, Jesus would not want anger to carry us away to hell in any circumstance and with any person. Paul counsels the Ephesians: “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.” (Ephesians 4: 31 ESV)
It is a great temptation to become angry and abusive in the face of evil. We must not! We must be gentle and show respect while boldly standing with Christ, our only shield and protector, in the time of evil. We ask that the Lord will “deliver us from evil” in all circumstances and in all ways as we witness, even to the evil, to salvation in Christ.
Michael G. Tavella
January 28, 2022
Saint Thomas Aquinas, Teacher, 1274