One day when they were on the sea, the devil came in an accursed and dreadful form, and settled on the mast in front of Brendan, and none of them saw him save Brendan only.
- Anonymous, Vita Brendani (12th century, from an earlier ms.)
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.
- Ephesians 6.12
No small part of the spiritual vision that must guide us in the life of faith is our awareness of the spiritual powers of wickedness that are real and close at hand. They are masters of mischief, deception, distraction, and disinformation, and they plot constantly against the Kingdom purposes of God and His saints.
Celtic Christians lived close to the dark side of the spirit world, in no small part because their familiar culture included much that was mysterious and evil. Saints like Brendan had no doubt about the reality of the devil and the danger he could pose to those seeking to do the will of God.
In our day we have sensationalized the devil and spiritual forces of wickedness with the result that their powers seem somehow remote from where we actually live. But we should remember that the devil can transform himself into an angel of light, and his multitude of minions are no less skillful at the arts of distraction and enticement. It takes a truly spiritual person - like Brendan - to be able to sense the presence of what others may completely ignore.
Even sincere believers - like Peter, for example - can be duped into serving the purposes of wickedness, all the while thinking themselves quite noble in their devotion to the Lord.
But the moment we take our eyes off Jesus, whenever we stray from the path of His Word, we will find ourselves in danger of snares, temptations, and trials of various kinds which are meant to discourage, deceive, and defeat us in our walk with the Lord. Happily, God sends His angels to defend us against such attacks (Ps. 35); but we must take care not to expose ourselves unnecessarily to the wiles of the evil one.
Look to Jesus. Pray without ceasing. Test the spirits that provoke your mind, strum on your affections, or open doors before you. If the direction you are inclining does not lead to Jesus - to see Him more clearly, know Him better, or serve Him more faithfully - then you may be on a path that will take you off course in your discipleship, or worse.
Be alert to the devil and his wiles. He can hurt you if you stray within his reach. Stay close to Jesus, and know Him real and present with you every step of the way. He will guard your path.
Today at The Fellowship of Ailbe
Is neuroscience becoming the new phrenology? Today's ReVision takes a look.
Our course, "The Writing Pastor," begins in just two weeks. Now is the time to sign up for this six-month webinar to help you make writing a more integral part of your own ministry for the Lord.
Please let us know how we can pray for you. Thanks so much for your prayers in support of our work.