Get Behind Me, Satan!
This is Day 23 of my 40 day Lenten Blog.
"Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man." (Matthew 16:23).
In the above verse Jesus is speaking not to the devil himself, but to His disciple Peter. Peter had suggested that Jesus not go to the cross. But dying on the cross was Jesus' mission. Peter, thinking he was doing good, sought to dissuade Jesus from the mission God had given Him--to die as a sacrifice for all our sins. By doing so, Peter was stepping into the shoes of Satan.
How often have I done Satan's bidding by trying to dissuade people from doing the mission God gave them to do? I have no idea, but I am sure I have. If the devil can use Peter--the disciple upon whom Jesus built His church-- then he can certainly use me.
And let us not forget the devil is cunning. He will of course never let us realize we are stepping into his shoes by attempting to dissuade others from doing the will of God. He will be much more subtle. In fact the devil will often make us think that we are trying to convince them to do the will of God instead of the opposite. Certainly this was Peter's thinking. He thought he was setting his mind on the things of God, but he was not. He was setting his mind on the things of man. That is why we should help our friends seek God's will instead of advising them as if we ourselves already know what His will is. I must be vigilant so as not to step into the shoes of Satan. I must not be selfish when I give advice to friends. It is this selfishness that is of man. Selflessness is of God.
There is a flipside to this, too. I must also learn to recognize those well-meaning souls that the devil puts in my path to dissuade me from doing God's will. This has happened to me many times. Friends, family members and in a few cases even priests, have attempted to dissuade me from what I knew God wanted me to do. It caused great confusion and it is that confusion that the devil seeks. When we get confused on something we saw so clearly the devil has won. I must be vigilant, prayerful, discerning, and reliant on God in following His will.
Lord, help me to never be the devil in someone else's path. Help me to look to the things of God not the things of man so that I will not dissuade anyone from following Your will. Help me also to distinguish advice that comes from You and advice that Satan has planted in the mind of a well meaning friend. Amen.
R.C. VanLandingham is the author of the Christian fantasy novel Peter Puckett & The Amulet of Eternity. He lives in Florida with his beautiful wife and three wonderful boys.