One of my favorite professors from seminary, Dr. John Byron, had an interesting reaction to what seemed to be a rather innocuous blog post. He remarked at the reaction many had to Tim Tebow's day against the Pittsburgh Steelers. The fact that Tebow through for a reported 316 yds. at 31.6 yards per play aroused the imagination of many people. The coincidental relationship between Tebow's stats and John 3:16 seemed to be irresistible fodder for media and religious folks alike. I followed the thread as it unfolded during the day. The amount of vitriol poured out toward Dr. Byron for his position on Tebow's accomplishment was remarkable. Dr. John shared his position and supported it intelligently. I can almost see him smiling and shaking his head. He has said many times that he doesn't understand why some blog posts receive such responses. What impressed me most was that he remained calm and allowed his detractors to rant without responding in kind. Cudos Dr. John.
The other thing I wanted to mention today is another look at the Devil Made Me Do It. In a short excerpt from a piece by John Henry Newman, (1801-1890), there is a brief insight into the devil's tactics. He wrote, "While we are found in Christ, we are partakers of His security. He has broken the power of Satan: He has gone 'upon the lion and adder, the young lion and the dragon hath He trod under His feet'; and henceforth evil spirits, instead of having power over us, tremble and are afftighted at every true Christian. They know he has that in him which makes him their master, that he may, if he will, laugh them to scorn, and put them to flight. They know this well, and bear it in mind, in all their assaults upon him; sin alone give them power over him; and their great object is, to make him sin, and therefore to surprise him into sin, knowing they have no other way of overcoming him. They try to scare him by the appearance of danger, and so to surprise him; or they approach stealthily and covertly to seduce him, and so to surprise him. But except by taking him at unawares, they can do nothing.
Therefore let us be, my brethren, 'not ignorant of their devices'; and as knowing them, let us watch, fast, and pray, let us keep close under the wings of the Almighty, that He may be our shield and buckler. Let us pray Him to make known to us His will-to teach us our faults-to take from us whatever may offend Him-and to lead us in the way everlasting."
The excerpt, from Spiritual Classics: Selected Readings on the Twelve Spiritual Disciplines, is somewhat archaic in its language, but it is spot-on with its insights. We who are Christ followers may be confident that the One who is in us is greater than the one who is in the world. We do have responsibility to, as Newman wrote, "watch, fast, and pray, let us keep close under the wings of the Almighty, that He may be our shield and buckler." Our enemy is crafty and subtle. We must be aware, but not obsessed. Watchful but not focused on the enemy. Our focus must be on Jesus alone. The enemy can assault us, but not overcome us.