Many years ago, when I was a youth leader, the pastor emeritus—a man suitably ancient, with snowy hair, gravely-voice, wizened skin—spoke to our young people about the devil. I had high hopes for this talk. I wanted deep unto deep. I expected profound insights from a seasoned warrior.
I was hugely disappointed.
What he said, about all he said, was that in over 50 years of pastoral ministry he had come to the conclusion that the devil hates people. That was it. I wanted history. I wanted theology. I wanted Greek terms parsed and Hebrew words explicated and obscure texts exegeted.
And all we got was that the devil hates people.
But after 22 years of pastoral ministry, I've come to the conclusion that the devil hates people. Or, more precisely, the devil hates God, and resorts to what any terrorist with a powerful enemy does: goes after his loved ones, wife and kids. The devil's hatred of people is an act of transference. It's his bitterness toward God aimed at what God loves most. Job's story, in some form or the next, plays out day after day, place after place, world without end.
Really, no surprises there.
But what's been surprising is that the devil's main act of hatred is not to destroy people (at least not at first), but to get them by masquerading as angels of light. The devil's best disguise is piety. From the beginning, he's cloaked damnable wiliness beneath a robe of theological inquiry—"Did God really say?"
For this reason, we should expect that most of the devil's foot soldiers are some-where in the pews, and that they're saboteurs more than warriors.
Paul warns Timothy, the young pastor, that he must not argue with his opponents ...