Humans: 1 Demons: 0
Thursday of Pentecost 13
18 August 2016
There is a rising fascination with the demonic in our culture. One is confronted by an increasing number of signs of the demonic from bumper stickers to the entertainment industry. Perhaps there are benefits to the increased visibility of Satan's industry. The reality of the demonic at least raises the question of the divine for the modern mind. But it is increasingly clear that we are no longer facing the old, docetic Satan, who is only an appearance of evil, and not its reality. In the past, Satan was a man in a red suit with horns, pitchfork, and pointed tail. He was a risible caricature of himself, but for that reason hardly someone to be taken seriously and therefore evil itself was not a serious business. We no longer have that delusion of risibility.
 
The church in Augustine of Hippo's time still had a keen sense of the demonic. The daemonia were still cultivated and worshiped in pagan shrines and temples throughout the Mediterranean world. Paganism was not yet suppressed. The ultimate goal of Satan is to displace the Lord Christ and become an object of worship himself (Mt 4:9), a goal thwarted by Christ's incarnation and humble lordship of the church. The incarnation proved the superiority of the human nature over the demonic. For God did not become incarnate through the demons or angels, but of the human flesh and soul born of Mary. And although these unseen creatures are powerful and immortal, they have not been honored, as we humans have, through the incarnation.
 
God has become man and therefore we humans are far superior to these formidable creatures. How remarkable through the incarnation that God employed the very weakness of our flesh to entrap and defeat through the tree of the cross him who had entrapped and defeated us through the tree of the garden.

Rev. Dr. Scott R. Murray
Memorial Lutheran Church

Augustine of Hippo
 
"As displeasing as it is to the proud, there are many things in the incarnation of Christ that are to be observed and thought of advantageously. One of them is, that it has been demonstrated to man what place he has in the things which God has created; since human nature could be joined to God, that one person could be made of two substances, and thereby indeed of three-God, soul, and flesh-those proud evil spirits, who interpose themselves as mediators to deceive, although as if to help, do not therefore dare to place themselves above man because they have not flesh; and chiefly because the Son of God deigned to die also in the same flesh, lest these evil spirits, because they seem to be immortal, should therefore succeed in getting themselves worshiped as gods.
 
"Further, that the grace of God might be commended to us in the man Christ without any preceding merits, because not even He Himself obtained by any preceding merits that He should be joined in such great unity with the true God, and should become the Son of God, one person with Him. Rather, from the time when He began to be man, from that time He is also God; so it is said, 'The Word was made flesh' (Jn 1:14).
 
"Also the pride of man, which is the chief hindrance against his cleaving to God, can be countered and healed through God's great humility. Man learns also how far he has gone away from God; and what it is worth in pain to Him to cure him. He returns through such a Mediator, who both as God assists men by His divinity, and as man agrees with men by His weakness. For what greater example of obedience could be given to us who had perished through disobedience, than God the Son obedient to God the Father, even to the death of the cross (Phil 2:8)? How could the reward of obedience itself be better shown, than in the flesh of so great a Mediator, who rose again to eternal life? It belonged also to the justice and goodness of the Creator that the devil should be conquered by the same rational creature which he rejoiced to have conquered, and by one that came from that same race which, by the corruption of its origin through one, he held completely." 

Augustine, On the Trinity, 13.17
Revelation 20:1-10

Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding in his hand the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain. And he seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years, and threw him into the pit, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he might not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were ended. After that he must be released for a little while.
 
Then I saw thrones, and seated on them were those to whom the authority to judge was committed. Also I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and for the word of God, and who had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! Over such the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with him for a thousand years.
                                              
And when the thousand years are ended, Satan will be released from his prison and will come out to deceive the nations that are at the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them for battle; their number is like the sand of the sea. And they marched up over the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city, but fire came down from heaven and consumed them, and the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever. (ESV)
Prayer
Lord Christ, You who by a tree overcame our enemy, grant that I might rightly honor and praise You for taking my flesh into the godhead so that my weak flesh might be the weapon against the dark strength. Keep me from being deluded by the enemy who is prowling about seeking whom he may devour. Therefore set me firmly in Your Word that I might be properly armed to deflect our enemy's flaming darts. Amen.
 
For all those whom their heavenly Father has granted children by adoption, that the children would be kept safe and grow into the stature intended for them by their Father
 
For all those fascinated by the serpent's vain promises, that they might be turned from the grip of evil unto the love of God
 
For Concordia Lutheran Theological Seminary, St. Catharines, that God would guard and protect the faculty and staff
Art: Durer, Albrecht  The Adoration of the Trinity (1515) 
Memorial Lutheran Church
smurray@mlchouston.org
http://www.mlchouston.org
© Scott Murray 2016
Memorial Lutheran Church, 5800 Westheimer Rd., Houston, TX 77057
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