Moreover, when [the devil] abandoned the blessedness of his Creator, that angel completely lost every good quality of his own nature which he had in his creation. But if he continues evil for himself, he always remains good for God while he complies obediently with the Lord’s command, though not of his own free will but because of God’s power.
- Anonymous, Liber de Ordine Creaturarum, Irish, 7th century
“Oh, that My people would listen to Me,
That Israel would walk in My ways!
I would soon subdue their enemies,
And turn My hand against their adversaries.
The haters of the LORD would pretend submission to Him,
But their fate would endure forever.”
- Psalm 81.13-15
As the story of Job makes clear, the devil is no freelancer, doing whatever he wants to whomever he will whenever it pleases him. He might think he’s getting away with evil, but he is only God’s slave, kept in chains to do God’s bidding in strengthening His people unto righteousness, or hardening His foes unto destruction.
The devil is obedient to God in spite – in spite toward God and, in spite of his hatred of his Creator. He hates God, but he can only do what God allows. He cannot do whatever he may will, for he is a creature under the authority and power of his Lord.
Since the Lord is able so to control this powerful spiritual being, should He not also be able to keep His human enemies in check?
The Lord promised His people that when they are obedient to Him, He will cause even their enemies, even those who hate the Lord, to “pretend submisstion” (NASB, “feign obedience”) to Him. When God’s people are faithful, walking in all His ways and living as His witnesses, the people around them will come under the influence of grace in surprising ways. They will become open to hearing about Him. They will keep His Law and conform to His ways, if only superficially; and they’ll go along with His projects and priorities because they’ll see the benefits of doing so, and because that’s what the times and the culture will require. They may be the most scandalous of people, spiteful even toward the Lord, but they will submit to Him because His power will be at work among them through the grace of His people.
God is sovereign. His Law is holy and righteous and good. Jesus upholds the entire creation and all of it consists in Him. How could anyone – anyone – do anything other than what King Jesus intends?
And yet the wicked rebel, the righteous stumble into transgression, and the effects of systemic sin oppress and blind and spoil all things. This will always be the case.
But less of this will be the case, and more of God’s beauty, goodness, and truth will abound in the land of the living, when God’s people get serious about listening to Him and walking in His ways in every area of life.
The power of grace to transform our lives and to bring into submission to God even those who deny, ignore, or reject Him, begins right in our own Personal Mission Fields. Each of us has been sent into the world, to carry out our calling to God’s Kingdom and glory (1 Thess. 2.12) by being salt, light, and leaven to those around us. We should expect Him to work in and through us as we listen to Him in His Word, and as we go out into our Personal Mission Fields to walk in His ways and live as His witnesses.
The prospect of this making much difference in the circles in which you travel may seem slight. But don’t underestimate what God can do. He keeps the devil on a leash; He can empower you to live for Christ and compel even unbelievers to defer to His will.
Focus not on what you think you might be able to achieve, but on what God has promised. He can flow rivers of living water through us to water the fields of our lives with beauty, goodness, and truth. He can do this, and He intends to do this through you and me.
God is God, and nothing and no one is beyond the reach of His power, or outside the scope of His eternal purpose and plan. Believe this, then live it daily, and give thanks to God as He works His good pleasure in and through you.
1. Whom will you see today in your Personal Mission Field? How should you prepare for these encounters so that you may be a witness to Jesus?
2. How can you see that the beauty, goodness, and truth of God are already at work in our world?
Psalm 110.1-4 (Aurelia: The Church’s One Foundation)
“Sit by Me at My right hand,” the Lord says to my Lord,
“Until I make Your foot stand on those who hate Your Word.”
From in His Church the Savior rules all His enemies;
while those who know His favor go forth the Lord to please.
Filled with the Spirit’s power, in holy robes of love,
from early morning’s hour they serve their Lord above.
Christ reigns a priest forever, the King of Righteousness
and King of Peace Who ever His holy ones will bless.
I do thank You, Lord, that I can rest completely in Your sovereign care. Strengthen me today as I…
God has bound Satan and limits his ability to do evil. But we need to understand his wiles and ways, so that we can be on guard against and resist him as needed. Our book, Satan Bound, helps you to understand his methods and means. Order your copy by clicking here.
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T. M. Moore
All Psalms for singing from The Ailbe Psalter. Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
 Liber, p. 13.