Sunday, September 16, 2007

The devil doesn't want people to be bad

(This post is part of the "7 things you ought to know about the devil.")

There is a common misconception among Christians and non-Christians alike that the devil wants people to be bad. This makes sense given the popular notion that God will weigh our good deeds and bad deeds and assign our place in the afterlife based on which side is "heavier." Under that system, you would expect the devil to want people to be bad.

But that system does not exist. (Demonstrating that would be the topic of a new post.) Under the Christian system, people who have surrendered themselves to Christ and repented of their sins, trusting in His death and resurrection for forgiveness, will go to heaven. Everyone else, no matter how "good" they are, won't.

Under this system, what Satan would want is for people to not realize that they need Christ. A great tool to accomplish this is the belief that "bad" people go to hell and you just need to be "good." As the apostle put it:

"The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God." (
2 Cor 4:4)

So if Christianity is correct, Satan wants, for example, Buddhists to be the best Buddhists they can be because a good Buddhist is much less likely to think he needs Christ than is a scoundrel. Atheists? The devil would want them to be kind and generous and loving so they can see that they can be just as good as anyone else without God. In this way people can be proud and self-assured all the way to hell.

Well, what about Christians? Does Satan want them to be bad? Maybe.

What Satan wants is for Christians to be ineffective. If they are bad and so compromise their witness and bring shame to the gospel, he's happy. But if they're lazy or too inwardly focused or tricked into believing that everyone will end up in heaven, he's happy with that too.

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