I don’t know if you are one to believe in coincidences, but I like to remember Obi Wan Kenobi sometimes: “In my experience there is no such thing as coincidence.” So with that in mind, let me lay out yesterday.
I am a part of a tutoring ministry in Compton California. I do not actually go into Compton, but instead focus on “group dynamics,” which is a fancy way of saying I am in change of the Bible Study. There is a basic premise about having a Bible Study for a tutoring ministry. We believe that if we are to love the students that we are tutoring, we have to be growing in our love for God and each other. Let me take a minute to emphasize that. We need to be growing. Not staying consistent. If you are not growing, you are dying. If I am not growing, I am dying. Being consistent is being stale is being distasteful. Howard Hendricks, a professor at Dallas Theological Seminary, has said that if you stop growing today you stop leading tomorrow. I need to continue growing in love for God and people or else I will not being able to lead effectively, which brings me back to the original topic.
For quite a while, months really, the leadership (i.e., those who have showed up most) has noticed that communication has been fairly poor amongst members other that directly in the “leadership.” We have wanted to change this, but have been dealing with other things, and really just dropping the ball. So yesterday the Bible Study Ministry and the Prayer Ministry (While I am here: why are these two groups separate? I just noticed how strange that is…) headed by the VP of the ministry Matt Shaw, was to get together to meet for the first time (we have had both of these, not up and running but existing, groups for months). But I get sick. So I give it the ol’ “heave-ho,” with an emphasis on the “heave.” I haven’t thrown up in years, so of course I am thinking, come ooon…I get sick for the first time in years on this day when we are to have a meeting that I have greatly desired all week and that we really have needed for some months? Come ooon…
I am not usually one to think spiritual opposition, but this instance really did deserve that consideration. If there is one thing that the adversary hates it is unity in the body of Christ. Unity in the body of Christ is representative of the unity of the Godhead. If there is one thing that the adversary wants to do, it is to destroy the image of God. He cannot destroy God so he settles for destroying his image, and his bride.
I wonder if this is the case in the crucifixion. There is an atonement theory called Ransom Atonement, which reasons that sinners are given over into the authority of Satan and that at the cross Jesus bought sinners from Satan. In this theory Satan did not understand that Jesus was going to rise from the grave and so God essentially pulled a fast one on Satan. This theory has been held by various Church fathers and more recently by C. S. Lewis. This is evinced in Lewis’ novel The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe. However, most scholars hold to a Justification Atonement theory. And I think this is the correct answer.
There is a question for the justification theory. If Satan knew what was going to happen, that Jesus would save sinners, why would he have still had Jesus killed (I guess this assumes a free will theory and that Satan would not do what the Father told him to…Another theological debate for another time…)? I think it is safe to say that since the time that Satan could not be like God, he has wanted to destroy God. However, God is God and cannot be destroyed. But he did make quite a few creations in his image, male and female he created them. I think since the time man has been on earth Satan has been trying to destroy the image of God because of his hatred of God. He cannot destroy God, so he destroys what is made in his image.
When Jesus came on the scene Satan had a unique opportunity. He had the opportunity to not only destroy the image of God, but God in the flesh. It seems that the opportunity was too good to pass up.
Romans 1 talks about how God gave those who exchanged the glory of God for sin into further sin. It seems that God holds people back from further sin (See the case of Abimelech in Genesis 20:6, as well as 2 Thessalonians 2.), but that he has also given people into further sin. This is the horror of sinning against God. He is liable to stop restraining you and to instead let you go further and further into sin. This seems to be the case with Satan. God restrains the actions of Satan (Job 1) but a time is coming when this restrain will be lifted and Satan will be allowed to roam free (Revelation).
So, if God gives people into further and further sin, it seems likely that this will be the case with Satan as well. Romans 6 says that believers are no longer slaves to sin. This is not the case for Satan. He is an utter slave to sin, the greatest slave to sin.
I was watching a talk show a while ago. I forget the topic that was being discussed, but the man being interviewed said something that jogged my thinking in a serious way. He said, “There is no greater slavery than slavery to one’s own desires.” I was shocked at the utter spiritual truth of the statement. When one speaks of “free will,” one can only talk about freedom to sin, not freedom from sin.
So when the Father wanted to save the sinful world through the crucifixion of his Son, Satan was all too willing to do the dead, even though he knew what would result. God had given him over into sin. There was no way Satan could pass up this opportunity, the opportunity to destroy God.
Is it any coincidence then that when we have sought unity for months and more so recently that the adversary would make a move to prevent that? 2 Corinthians 2 speaks of how Paul and the Corinthian believers were not unaware of the schemes of Satan, namely to divide the believers. Let us be aware as well of his schemes, and make it our aim to seek the unity of the body of Christ. We must love each other and show that love to each other, or we will not truly have loved.