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The Rev. Charles Camlin: “Your Adversary, the Devil” (1 Peter 5:8-9)

June 28, 2010

It is interesting that we now have another sermon on spiritual warfare; from the Rev. Charles Camlin of Holy Trinity REC in Virginia comes yet another excellent message that helps us see the need for remaining on our guard, Your Adversary, the Devil.  This sermon was preached for the Third Sunday after Trinity, and is based on 1 Peter 5:8-9; Fr. Camlin talks about three main points in his exposition:

  • the reality of our enemy;
  • the design of our enemy, and
  • our defense against our enemy.

His introduction to the first of these points is something every Christian needs to realize:

Let us begin by considering the reality of our enemy.  St. Peter writes rather straightforwardly, “Your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.”  Does he really mean this?  Does he really mean to say that there is a spiritual being out there who is at war with Christ’s Church?  The short answer is yes!  But I think that there are some dangers for us in considering the reality of our enemy, the devil.  Perhaps, the first danger is to give the devil too much credit.  I am referring to those who see a devil behind every bush and want to blame the devil and his minions for everything.  This mentality is caricatured in the old comedy routine by Flip Wilson where he said, “The devil made me do it.” But in our culture today, I tend to think that we more often respond in the other direction.  The second danger is to doubt that there really is a devil because we cannot see him.  In our scientific age, we tend to only believe what we can see or what we can prove.  But I would remind you that one of the greatest intellectuals of the 20th century wrote a profound book on this matter.  I am referring to C. S. Lewis and his work ‘The Screwtape Letters.’  If you would like to read a fascinating work on the subject of spiritual warfare, I do not think that you can do any better than this modern classic.   But the third danger concerning the reality of our enemy is exemplified in Christians who do not give much thought to the matter.  Desiderius Erasmus, the great humanist scholar of the 16th century, addressed these folks in the opening of his work, “The Handbook of the Militant Christian” when he wrote:  “…We must be constantly aware of the fact that life here below is best described as being a type of continual warfare.  This is a fact that Job, that undefeated soldier of vast experience, tells us so plainly.  Yet in this matter the great majority of mankind is often deceived, for the world, like some deceitful magician, captivates their minds with seductive blandishments, and as a result most individuals behave as if there had been a cessation of hostilities.”

Do we behave “as if there had been a cessation of hostilities”?  The rest of this sermon is not a bad antidote for that!

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