Scripture Reading: Ephesians 4:25-5:2 (NRSV)
What does verse 27 in today’s reading mean when it says, “and do not make room for the devil”? Is it referring to anger as the previous verse indicates? If we allow anger to simmer, does this lead us toward forgiveness and reconciliation or more likely to confrontation and conflict?
I think I know how I would answer that for myself.
I don’t often preach about the devil and this verse has a lot to do with that. I believe that the more we dwell on what we shouldn’t be doing, the more we are thinking about those things. Forbidden fruit becomes more enticing simply because it is disallowed. And just out of curiosity, I thought I would google “Forbidden perfume” to see if it is already in existence (it sounds like the kind of cheesy whisper-intoned name that you would find on perfume commercials). Wouldn’t you know, both Calvin Klein and Victoria Secret have a scent using the name “forbidden”!
So my lack of clarity on the devil or the personification of evil comes from the school of thought that we can only think on one thing at a time. I would prefer us to think on God.
In fact, chapter 5 begins with the idea that we should be imitators of God. We can only do so if we partner with God and shun the things of evil.
Of course, there is the wisdom that says, “If you don’t warn your kids about the traffic in the street because that is too negative, they will end up getting hit by a car.” So am I being negligent in a lack of attention to Satan? Is there demonic power that can capture us and hold us against our will? How can we fight against it? What gives us protection from it?
I absolutely think that there are paths that lead to darkness in our lives. As I mentioned in the beginning, holding onto and stoking our anger may be one of these. If you have ears to hear, you may understand that I quite frequently mention these in my preaching. I may just name them in ways that I make no room for the devil.
As we are in Christ, we are protected against powers and principalities that arise to thwart the goodness we experience in life. Ephesians names them in verse 31. We should put away all bitterness and wrath and anger and slander and malice. We should be kind, tenderhearted and forgiving. If we focus on the latter, we won’t have time for the former.
I look forward to exploring this in worship on Sunday. Whether in person or online, I hope you’ll find time to join us!
Check out more of Sam’s blog articles at www.precedinggrace.blogspot.com.
Photo by Mathilda Samuelsson via Flickr.com. Used under the Creative Commons license.