In 1972, I released a book called, Satan is Alive and Well on Planet Earth. That was a year after William Peter Blatty’s novel called The Exorcist, and a year before the film version of that book. Satan is Alive and Well sold more than 8 million copies. The Exorcist film, adjusted for inflation, is the 9th highest grossing movie of all time.
In those years, interest in Satan was at a peak — partly because of a smalltime hoodlum, turned cult leader, turned mass killer named Charles Manson. With Manson, the world caught a real glimpse of the face of evil. People realized that his ability to turn young people into monsters was something more than crime as usual.
Since then, interest in Satan has ebbed and flowed many times. Now, it’s building again. Fictional versions of him regular appear in films, television shows, music, and video games. For a society that can’t get enough of anti-heroes, the devil is the ultimate bad boy.
But he’s also the ultimate loser. Think of his position. He’s locked in a battle with the omnipotent Creator of all things. What strategy can he possibly employ in such a battle? How can he who is merely mighty have any hope against the Almighty? God’s power knows no limits. Revelation 19:6 says, “For the Lord God omnipotent reigneth!”
Limited power cannot defeat infinite power. But the devil is not stupid. He has a strategy. He has chosen to do what any military commander would — find a point of vulnerability and exploit it. You might think it impossible to find vulnerability in the all-powerful Lord of the universe. But you would be wrong.
Love and Vulnerability
Every romance novel, every teenager-in-love pop song, every he-done-me-wrong country ballad, every romantic film, every good old-fashioned love story… carries an underlying point. Love makes you vulnerable. Love, in all its forms, opens us up to the possibility of pain.
The dearest friend can be a source of anguish. You feel the hurt as you read the words of King David. “Even my own familiar friend in whom I trusted, Who ate my bread, Has lifted up his heel against me.” (Psalms 41:9)
The greater and more intense the love, the more painful the betrayal. No one can break a parent’s heart quite like that parent’s son or daughter. At the same time, there’s no other pain quite like what a child feels when betrayed by parents.
Romantic love almost guarantees sorrow and grief somewhere down the line. Maybe there will be a breakup, and that will hurt. But even if the couple stays together, and they marry for life, “Till death do us part” hangs over them. Husband and wife rarely die together. In almost all cases — one will go, one will stay, and there will be heartbreak.
Although love makes us vulnerable to pain, it’s worth it. The most miserable people of all are those whose past pain makes them fearful of love. They build walls around their hearts. They put up guard towers to keep watch. They’re wrong to do that. But we can all understand it.
Satan looked at God, searching for a point of vulnerability, and there it was. Love. God is love. God loves human beings in greater, deeper ways than we can even imagine.
But what really made God’s love a point of vulnerability was that He also gave humans the ability to love. By definition, that includes the power of choice. Automatons cannot love because real love requires a choice. Humans can love… or not.
That’s why Satan chose mankind as the battlefield in his war with God. Knowing that God is completely pure and utterly holy, he thought he had won the Battle of Man when he persuaded Adam and Eve to sin.
Their action unleashed the virus of sin into the world, infecting all of humanity from that time until now. Ephesians 5:5 says, “No immoral or impure person… has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.” With Satan’s victory in the Garden of Eden, every human being would be impure.
How vulnerable did God’s love make Him? Picture Jesus hanging on a cross, receiving in Himself God’s justice for our sin. Consider the pain — physical and spiritual. It’s hard to imagine a more vulnerable figure. What held Him there? Soldiers? Nails? Those things couldn’t hold Him to the cross in a billion years! Love held Him there. Love for you, and love for me. Love made Him that vulnerable.
Maybe your heart is broken. Maybe your love for a child, parent, friend, or spouse, made you vulnerable to a deeper hurt than you know how to express. I have a suggestion for you. Don’t go through it alone. In Philippians 3:10, the Apostle Paul put his deepest heart cry into words. “That I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings.”
“The fellowship of His sufferings” is not an easy place. But you will find Him there in richer, deeper more beautiful ways than you ever thought possible.
C. S. Lewis asked, “Why love, if losing hurts so much?” The Christian can answer by citing no less of an authority than Jesus Himself. We are to love God and to love each other. Love is the greatest commandment, (Matthew 22:36-40), our highest purpose, and the mark of a Christian. (John 13:35)
God also chose love. He chose to love us and be vulnerable to the pain of our rejection. And in that love, He never wavered. Satan saw it as a point of attack. But God used the love and resulting pain to defeat Satan, and redeem mankind. That is our example.
WATCHMAN’S WARNING by Hal Lindsey