The role of Satan in American politics (Part 2)

March 15, 2012

This continues the thoughts in a post you will find by scrolling down. It is probably better to read the first part first. As we consider Satan’s affirmative activities in politics, it is probably appropriate to note that the scriptures do not hold a very high opinion of human government.In Gen 11 there is the slightest glimpse of urban life and a strong government. You know the story of the Tower of Babel and how the people decided to build a city instead of populating the entire earth, which was the will of Yahweh. Both the Flood and the account of Sodom and Gomorrah speak of corruption and violence. Let’s not forget that notorious genocidal madman, Pharoah.

When the people of Israel cried out for a human king, Samuel warned them how it would go then, and things have not changed much since.

He said, “These will be the ways of the king who will reign over you: he will take your sons and appoint them to his chariots and to be his horsemen and to run before his chariots. And he will appoint for himself commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and some to plow his ground and to reap his harvest, and to make his implements of war and the equipment of his chariots. He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive orchards and give them to his servants. He will take the tenth of your grain and of your vineyards and give it to his officers and to his servants. He will take your male servants and female servants and the best of your young men and your donkeys, and put them to his work. He will take the tenth of your flocks, and you shall be his slaves. And in that day you will cry out because of your king, whom you have chosen for yourselves, but the LORD will not answer you in that day.” (1 Sam 8:11-18 ESV)

Human government has a checkered reputation in the pages of scripture. In fact, everything that humans get involved with quickly undergoes the effects of our poor judgment and inclination toward evil, which is a consequence of what Christians call The Fall. That is recorded in Genesis 3. Politics is just another human endeavor that is subject to the subtle manipulations of the serpent. In the ancient world, snakes were symbolic of wisdom (and sometimes healing!) and we often seem to fall for a sneaky scheme disguised as a reasonable decision. So the question remains, what is Satan’s role? Let’s try backing into the answer.

If American politicians were actually Spirit-filled Christians, what kinds of behaviors might we expect. Get your swords ready!

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
(Gal 5:22-23 ESV)

Yes, I have a wicked and often out-of-place sense of humor. Let us consider the passage from Galatians. Probably most of you would not consider the typical candidate to be very joyful. It is tough being a human punching bag and having your life open to public inspection. Not much joy in that. Not much peace either, come to think of it. Patience? Maybe. Kindness? You gotta’ be kidding. Goodness. That depends on who you ask. One’s marital record and business dealings would be a proper indicator of “goodness.” You figure it out for yourself. The “faithfulness” quality ought to exclude a few right away. Gentleness. Next! Most of them have enough self-control not to punch out the opponent or pesky reporters. Most do not have enough self-control to say “no” to bribes masquerading as campaign contributions.

But one can not presume that all political corruption is the work of the Beelzebub. As the Genesis text suggests, he is “subtle” and human nature is very susceptible to self-serving suggestions. God knows that we need government and careful readers of scripture understand that He sets up human authorities. When Jesus stood trial before the Roman Governor, this came into full view.

So Pilate said to him, “You will not speak to me? Do you not know that I have authority to release you and authority to crucify you?” Jesus answered him, “You would have no authority over me at all unless it had been given you from above. Therefore he who delivered me over to you has the greater sin.” (John 19:10-11)

This is a topic we covered previously, but it is worth a second look. Christians must be good citizens in the governments established by God. How does this happen? There is not a comprehensive answer, at least I can not find one in scripture. Paul’s vision of human government and citizenship seems overly optimistic.

Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed. (Rom 13:1-7)

Politicians do bad things. Could there have possibly been a worse thing than turning a blind eye to the wrongful execution of the Creator of human life, a man who did only good? Paul knows the facts as well as we do and he still requires subjection to the corrupt human authorities. One positive way of looking at this troubling situation is that we are infiltrators on an evil empire that will be deposed by the hand of God. Our job is to be the salt of the earth. That suggests adding a pleasing taste and preserving life.

It is certainly a culture war, but not the destructive kind of conflict envisioned by partisan opportunists. Our battle takes on the forces of darkness in the trenches of everyday life and winning the unseen battles in which biblical virtues (see Galatians above) triumph over the schemes from below.


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