The “Second Week”: Week Twenty/Session Two.
Theme: Jesus’ Public Ministry.
Our reading for today: Luke 11: 33-36.
No one lights a lamp, then hides it in a drawer. It’s put on a lamp stand so those entering the room have light to see where they’re going. Your eye is a lamp, lighting up your whole body. If you live wide-eyed in wonder and belief, your body fills up with light. If you live squinty-eyed in greed and distrust, your body is a dank cellar. Keep your eyes open, your lamp burning, so you don’t get musty and murky. Keep your life as well-lighted as your best-lighted room. (Luke 11: 33-36 MsgB)
This week, as we’re continuing our journey with Jesus, Ignatius points out that there are three primary strategies our enemy, Satan, uses to trip us up along the way:
Three Strategies of the Enemy.
1. Dripping Faucets.
2. Keeping Secrets in the Dark.
3. War on My Weaknesses.
Last time we discussed the creative ways Satan attempts to wear us down through the constant drip…drip…drip of accusations or temptations he so cunningly sends our way. Today, let’s explore his second strategy: one that has, unfortunately, found so much success over the annals of human history.
Keeping Secrets in the Dark.
You see, the Scriptures have it right. All of us are sinners, men and women who ‘miss the mark’ when aiming for the God-centered perfection found in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. God knows that we will never reach perfection on our own, thus we find the very reason He sent His Son to die for those sins, blotting them out through the righteousness of His love on the cross.
But here’s Satan’s dirty little secret.
He knows the amazing power that lies within the honest confession of sin. He knows that God the Father is gracious and merciful, forgiving all who come to Him, confessing their sin and selfishness openly before Him. He can’t stop God from forgiving so freely, so Satan’s only hope is to keep human beings like you and me from ever stepping into the Light of that forgiveness in the first place!
Thus, we now see the unfolding plan of Satan.
Step One: Tempt, Accuse, or Sweet Talk your way into the weakened minds of human beings. Like a faucet that never runs dry; drip…drip…drip your way into their thoughts, reasoning with them that just a little drop of sin and selfishness is a logical way to deal with our limited human condition.
Step Two. Now that you’ve sinned or acted in selfish ways, dear man or woman, you must not tell anyone! Let’s keep it our little secret. God hates sin, you know, and He’s already seen how sinful you are. Don’t bother Him with that right now. Let’s stay here in the shadows a while longer and maybe we’ll all forget about it, eh?
But you and I know that we rarely forget about our little bites of sin or selfishness, right? If anything, it comes back to haunt us like last night’s pepperoni pizza! And what do we do to make ourselves forget? When left to our own devices, we fail to forget about God’s amazing grace and go about trying to clean up our lives on our own. And in the process, we attempt to build massive structures of “good” activity that we hope will help God (and us) forget about our sinful condition.
Yikes. Do you see the pattern developing here?
That’s why Jesus and the New Testament writers point out that the true remedy to Satan’s strategy is found in bringing our sinful and selfish condition to the Light, not stuffing it down in some corner, hoping it might all go away by itself. Look at what Paul wrote to his friends in the church of Ephesus:
For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light. This is why it is said: “Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. (Ephesians 5: 8-16 NIV)
Hmm. Excuse me. I think I have an appointment with the Light. How about you?
My prayer: Father God, once again, I thank You for revealing the strategies of Satan. I’ve fallen for it before, but I choose today to not stay in the darkness with my sin and selfishness, but I run to the Light. In You, I am free. In You, I am clean. In You, I am forgiven. For Your name’s sake. Amen.
My questions to ponder: So what aspects of my life today are trafficking in darkness? What practical steps can I take to bring my whole life: the good, the bad, and the ugly out into the Light of God, allowing Him to cleanse and purify? What trusted co-laborer in Christ might be available for me today to hear my confession of sin and selfishness?
So what is God speaking to you today as we ponder together The Ignatian Adventure?
Over an eight month period, you and I will be working our way through the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius. For more information on our journey and how to begin…click here!
To go onto the next journal entry…click here.
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