They have as king over them, the angel of the abyss; his name in Hebrew is Abaddon, and in the Greek he has the name Apollyon.(that is, Destroyer) Revelation 9:11.
LISTEN TO: TobyMac "Hey Devil"
When I was a child, I used to love to watch the comedian Flip Wilson's show. Remember how he immortalized the saying "the devil made me do it"?
While the majority of Americans believe there is an Evil One, the different interpretations are vast. Some believe in a personal devil, Lucifer, as presented in scripture. Others believe Evil is impersonal or just a symbol. Evil is attributed to psychological processes or biological roots. Others believe the existence of the devil as hogwash, medieval malarkey that has no place in the modern world.
Scholar and author C.S.Lewis observed: “There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them. They themselves are equally pleased by both errors and hail a materialist or a magician with the same delight.” (The Screwtape Letters, HarperSanFrancisco, ©1942, Harper edition 2001, p. ix.). The Devil cares little what we believe as long as it can be twisted, made ineffectual through temptation.
As we reflect on the Book of Revelation, we must come to terms with the presence of the Evil One, the presence of evil in our world and the temptation of evil in our lives. In Revelation the name one of the names of the Evil One is Destroyer." Evil seeks to destroy the handiwork of God. We are created in the Image of God (Gen. 1:27). So evil seeks to destroy that image -- and to refashion us and our world in the image of evil instead! This is actually simpler than we realize. As God has created us for love and relationship, Evil seeks to disrupt relationship and love. So we are tempted to think the worse of others. We are tempted to criticize, hold grudges and resentments. We think of evil and we think of witches with green faces and horned red devils with pitchforks. We think of demented dolls with knives, Michael Myers in "Halloween" or Jason in "Friday the 13th." Evil is more mundane then that. Evil works through the mother or father who belittles repeated their child and takes secret delight in it. Evil is the class that stays silent when a classmate is bullied. Evil is the sweet church ladies gossiping about another congregational member, spreading false rumors as a result. Evil is in the businessperson who takes excess profits, or cheats, resulting in workers struggling at sub-par wages. Evil is the bickering between partners that keep them from intimacy. Evil is the deaths of innocents when food, housing and health care are available. Evil is knowing better but being too lazy to do what is right.
When studying at Fordham University in my twenties, I had a Greek language priest professor who was also a demonologist and was a consultant on the film, "the Exorcist." Evil's goal is simple, the priest said. Evil desires to destroy relationships; because relationship is at the heart of love; relationship is what God is about. Jesus reveals relationship and right living to us. Jesus desires to draw us into a relationship. Evil will do everything in its power to destroy that knowledge and to destroy or cripple our relationships with each other and with the Divine.
Look around us. Many of the problems in the world can be seen as failure or perversions in relationship, whether it is interpersonal or between nations or races. Right now the pain and oppression we see is the image of the Evil One, not of God. Our study in Revelation calls us to remember: we are not created for this misery. We are created for relationship. For love. For an abundant life --- not the life of strife and turmoil Evil would lure us to. Hear these words from our brother James, chapter 4:
What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures....
Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you.
Remember, we are created for relationship. When doubts enter our minds, when we tempted to be less than ourselves – turn to God in Christ. Remember you are created in the image of love, destined for love, worthy of love and all else is a lie.
Or as reformer, Martin Luther puts it:
“So when the devil throws your sins in your face and declares that you deserve death and hell, tell him this: "I admit that I deserve death and hell, what of it? For I know One who suffered and made satisfaction on my behalf. His name is Jesus Christ, Son of God, and where He is there I shall be also!”
Pray: “God, in whose image I am made, give me strength to relate with love with all those whose path I cross.”