Saturday, November 1, 2014

Luther's Halloween Message

While scrolling through my Twitter feed yesterday, I noticed this verse-fragment from Martin Luther's famous hymn, A Mighty Fortress Is Our God:
The prince of darkness grim,
We tremble not for him.
His rage we can endure,
For lo! his doom is sure.
One little Word shall fell him!
That juxtaposition of proclaiming victory over the demonic forces that Halloween unabashedly celebrates and the homage to the great reformer fascinated me. As I thought about it, I couldn't help wondering whether or not the Lord, in His sovereignty, deliberately arranged for Reformation Day and Halloween to fall on the same day so that Luther's hymn could give Christians a Biblical perspective of His power over Satan.

In my Charismatic years, I'd often spend Halloween night holed up in my bedroom, "praying" and "taking authority" over Satan and his demons. My practice completely violated Jude's teaching that we must not presume to rebuke Satan directly.
Yet in like manner these people also, relying on their dreams, defile the flesh, reject authority, and blaspheme the glorious ones. But when the archangel Michael, contending with the devil, was disputing about the body of Moses, he did not presume to pronounce a blasphemous judgment, but said, “The Lord rebuke you.” 10 But these people blaspheme all that they do not understand, and they are destroyed by all that they, like unreasoning animals, understand instinctively. ~~Jude 8-10 (ESV)
For all my presumptuous bravado in rebuking the devil, fear motivated my actions. In spite of correctly seeing Halloween as a day that openly glorifies evil, I focused on its demonic attributes when I should have kept my eyes on the Lord.

Satan, unlike the Lord, has very limited powers. Additionally, the Lord uses him as an unwitting pawn to confirm divine judgment on those who are blinded to the Gospel. Certainly, Christians will naturally despise Satan and resist his schemes to destroy us by drawing close to Christ. At the same time, we need not cower in fear. Scripture clearly teaches that Jesus stripped Satan and his minions of any real power by shedding His blood on the cross.
13 And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, 14 by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. 15 He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him. ~~Colossians 2:13-15 (ESV)
Luther's hymn reminds me that Jesus, the Living Word of God, removes Satan's terror for Christians. We can celebrate Christ's victory, thankful that He is indeed a mighty Fortress.

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