“Finally, be strengthened in the Lord, and in the strength of his power. Put on the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” Ephesians 6:10-11
Do you remember Wile E. Coyote? He was the hapless cartoon predator who purchased all sorts of mechanical devices from the Acme Company in an attempt to apprehend the roadrunner. Regardless of what foolish plot the coyote dreamed up, the roadrunner always seemed to be one step ahead. After the coyote would get caught in his own trap, the roadrunner would joyfully zoom off, declaring a victorious, “Beep beep!”
It’s interesting that the author of Ephesians refers to the devil’s works as “wiles.” Webster defines “wile” as “a trick or strategy to ensnare or deceive” and also “skill in outwitting.”
Ever since we were kids, we’ve heard and, perhaps, have used the phrase, “The devil made me do it.” Such a statement indicates a belief that the snares or traps of the devil encourage doing bad things that are damaging to ourselves, others, or creation. Certainly such destructive events result from the devil’s snares.
However, the “wiles” of the devil referred to in Ephesians are far more subtle.
The devil’s arsenal, or Acme Company, is not filled with atomic bombs or heroin needles or thievish plots. The devil’s tool chest contains the very simple devices of fear and doubt. For if the devil can get humanity to begin to doubt the promises of God, and to lose faith in the assurance of life, then humanity, driven by fear and the apparent need for self-protection, self-preservation, and self-fulfillment, creates the means and methods for destruction and devastation.
Isn’t it ironic that in an attempt to preserve ourselves, we end up destroying ourselves? We pursue material wealth believing that it will sustain us and bring us happiness, only to become slaves to greed and money. We pursue alcohol or chemicals that promise to reduce the pain only to find ourselves dependent on their numbing effects.
In the midst of conflict, one party may refuse to talk about the issue, only to find themselves filled with a bitter spirit that is keeping them from loving/serving God and others. We engage in wars that promise to bring peace, only to find ourselves stuck in even deeper quagmires of violence and unrest.
The devil doesn’t need to attack and destroy humanity. By simply sowing seeds of fear, an unforgiving spirit, and doubt within the human soul, humanity will destroy itself!
Our only hope is to be “strengthened in the Lord,” to be armored by God. This is not something we do to ourselves, but is the work of the Holy Spirit. It happens to us when we are bathed and immersed in the message of the Risen Christ, and when the story of God’s unconditional, relentless, and never-failing love and mercy surrounds us and holds us.
It is then that we are better able to recognize the wiles of the devil, become resistant to these seductive snares, and live joyfully and hopefully as we zoom through life! Beep beep!