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Spiritual masquerades

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9th Sunday after Pentecost – August 6, 2017

Ephesians 6:10-20 and Matthew 10:28-31

While the show is on at the Northern Jubilee, let’s take a peek at Andrew Lloyd Webber’s amazing and enthralling musical “The Phantom of the Opera”, where a young chorus girl named Christine receives voice training from a mysterious musician she calls the “Angel of Music.” Christine believes this is the angel her dying father had promised to send to complete her musical training.

Deformed since birth, a bitter man known only as the Phantom lives in the sewers underneath the Paris Opera House. He falls in love with the obscure chorus singer Christine, and privately tutors her while terrorising the rest of the opera house and demanding Christine be given lead roles. Things get worse when Christine meets back up with her childhood acquaintance Raoul and the two fall in love. The Phantom decides to kidnap her and imprison her with him in his lair. Raoul is now the only one who can stop him.

As the plot thickens, we find that her mysterious mentor is really a demented man who wants to carry her away. What the girl thinks is a supernatural agent sent by her beloved father is really a madman who wants to possess her for his own ends. The “Angel of Music” is evil masquerading as good.

The believer in Christ also faces an evil one who masquerades. One of Satan’s key strategies is to look like someone who is good. Paul told us, “Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14). The Greek word translated as “transforms” means “to change appearance, masquerade, or disguise oneself.”

In preparing us to face the evil strategies of the devil, God has provided all the equipment we need to stand our ground. Protecting ourselves with the armour of God unmasks the evil that opposes us and stabilises our spiritual walk.

When you’re making a decision,

Evil sometimes wears a mask;

Trust the Lord for true discernment—

The Lord will give wisdom if you ask. —Hess

God’s armour is tailor-made for us, but we must put it on.

When we disobey God by sinning, let’s not shift the blame or justify our actions with the faulty “the devil made me do it” theology. Instead, let’s take full responsibility for our actions, confess our sins to a gracious and forgiving Lord and Creator.

God protects us amidst all that goes on in this life. Flip Wilson, the American comedian might have been one who unmasked the silliness of a theology of “the devil made me do it.” It’s hilarious to see him poke fun in the description of “the devil made me buy this dress.”

Having said all of this, our spiritual lives are brought back into God’s safe hands by the work of the Son Jesus Christ, and through the Holy Spirit who guides us day by day. When problems show up all around us, in our neighbourhood and our world it becomes clear that God wants to use us as faithful Christ-followers that take full responsibility by rolling up our sleeves and muscling our way towards a solution. It’s certainly not always easy.

By putting on God’s tailor-made armour, described as the “belt of truth”, the “breastplate of righteousness”, “shoes for our feet”, “the shield of faith”, “the helmet of salvation” and “the sword of the Spirit” we are enabled to discern evil from good as the spiritual masquerades can otherwise only confuse us. We aren’t alone in this, God helps us every single moment and in every single action of our lives.

 

Copyright 2017 – Heinrich Grosskopf, Minister of Dayspring Presbyterian Church

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