Five Lies of Our Anti-Christian Age ForewordSeptember 7, 2023
The devil is a liar.
And not just any old liar, a very good one. He normally avoids direct assaults. He prefers deceit, and misdirection. Think of the snake in the garden of Eden, merely suggesting that God’s word might not be fully trustworthy. !e devil specializes in traps and snares (2 Tim. 2:26). He masquerades as an angel of light (2 Cor. 11:14). He blinds the minds of unbelievers (4:4). Our enemy, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, is wicked, tricksy, and false (Rev. 12:9). He is a father of lies (John 8:44).
!e devil lies to us in many ways. He may not speak through a snake, but he knows how to make his voice heard. Sometimes he may bring something directly to mind. Or perhaps he keeps us from seeing and hearing what we should. More often, I imagine, he speaks through the half-truths and quarter-truths we find in a thousand movies, television shows, and “news” reports. His voice can be heard in our universities and from the halls of power. If we listen carefully, we may detect his slithering speech in Christian books and in spiritual blogs, even from pastors and churches. That is why the book you are holding is so important. Make no mistake, this courageous book is bracing. You won’t agree with every sentence. But it is hard to imagine anyone who shouldn’t listen to what Rosaria has to say. Strike that— not what Rosaria has to say, but what God has said that Rosaria knows we need to hear. Rosaria Butterfield is a friend of mine, and she is eager to speak to you as a friend too—if you will let her. She is smart, caring, self-deprecating, and—here’s one thing I hope you’ll learn to love—in a world awash in soft heads and brittle hearts, Rosaria isn’t afraid to tell you what she really thinks. May her tribe increase.
There is a war raging between good and evil in our world, and though we might prefer the conflict to be fought somewhere else, we don’t get to pick the times in which we live. The front lines today are battles over sex, gender, and identity. We must be ready for a fight in precisely these places. Don’t underestimate the power of your opponent. The devil wants us to join him in his rebellion against God. He wants to make us cowards and traitors. He wants us to believe the myth of our own autonomy. He wants us to raise the white flag and side with the enemy—the enemy without or the enemy within, it doesn’t matter to him. The devil hates every spiritual blessing in Christ. He hates Christ’s power. He hates Christ’s forgiving grace. He hates Christ’s transforming grace. He hates the gospel and the church. He hates happy marriages and well-ordered families. He hates personal holiness and obedience. The devil hates Christians who stand their ground.
Have you ever noticed the central command for the Christian as he conducts spiritual warfare? Read over the passage in Ephesians 6 on the armor of God. The exhortation is not to cast out demons or bind territorial spirits. The command, repeated several times, is simply “stand” (vv. 11, 13, 14). Don’t give up. Don’t give in. Don’t back down. It’s as if Christ our captain is yelling out instructions to his troops: “Hold your lines, men! Don’t break ranks. Stand your ground!”
And how do we stand? It’s quite simple really. We live by truth, not by lies. There are five implements in the armor of God that are defensive: a belt, a breastplate, shoes, a shield, and a helmet. There is one offensive weapon, a sword. All six pieces of armor are meant to reinforce the same two things: the truth about God and the truth about ourselves. That’s how wise Christians have always done battle with the devil. That’s how the fight must be fought in our day.
The devil says to us, “If God is a God of love, how can he judge? You have nothing to fear if you sin.” But with the belt of truth, hear God’s voice saying, “Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap” (Gal. 6:7).
And when the devil accuses us of falling short of the glory of God, we stand ready with the breastplate of righteousness, knowing that God “made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor. 5:21).
And when the evil one bids us to walk in resentment and bit- terness with our brothers and sisters, we will not follow, because our feet are fitted with the gospel of peace, knowing that Christ himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility (Eph. 2:14).
And when the devil comes with his enticements to sin, we will take up the shield of faith and will choose, like Moses, to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time (Heb. 11:25).
And when Satan tries to convince us that God is unwilling to save us or unable to change us, we will trust that the name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run into it and they are safe (Prov. 18:10).
And when Satan tells us that we are hopeless, that sanctification is hopeless, and that endurance is hopeless, we will strike back with the sword of the Spirit. “No, Satan, there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Rom. 8:1). I am dead to sin and alive in Christ by the Spirit (8:10). I do not consider the sufferings of this present time worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed (8:18). We have hope for what we do not see, and we will wait for it with patience (8:25). The Spirit will help us in our weak- ness and intercede for us with groanings too deep for words (8:26). We know that for those who love God all things work together for good (8:28). We believe that if God is for us, no one can stand against us (8:31). We believe that we are more than conquerors through him who loved us (8:37) and that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord (8:38–39).”
Five Lies of Our Anti-Christian Age has everything to do with the armor of God, because this book is a book about truth—truth you may have never heard, truth you may have forgotten, or truth you already know but haven’t dared to embrace. Don’t follow the great dragon; that’s what this book is about. He has already been defeated. Follow the one who is truth (John 14:6). Listen to him. Love him. Learn from him. Do not fall for the lies of our age. Stand your ground.
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This content was originally published on Westminster Theological Seminary