“Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” – John 12:24
“The last enemy to be destroyed is death...Death is swallowed up in victory.” – 1 Corinthians 15:26, 54
"The greater the sin, the greater the mercy, the deeper the death and the brighter the rebirth.” - C. S. Lewis
"This story...has the very taste of primary truth." - J. R. R. Tolkien

Friday, March 6, 2009

The Ruin of Satan

“We have learned of evil, though not as the Evil One wished us to learn. We have learned better than that, and know it more, for it is waking that understands sleep and not sleep that understands waking. There is an ignorance of evil that comes from being young: there is a darker ignorance that comes from doing it.” – C. S. Lewis, Perelandra, p. 209
This ignorance is the very nature of evil, and the inevitable fate of those who choose evil. God is the Creator of all things – it is in Him that truth is defined and according to his ways and character that all reality is structured. Thus, in rejecting and perverting God’s light, Satan gave himself over to darkness and blindness and foolishness, cut himself off from ultimate reality, and lost the truth. In defying the source of all reality, who imbues all things with his qualities (Romans 1:20), Satan lost touch with reality. I would guess that Satan lost something of his former knowledge of God – God’s nature and ways.

For these reasons, I imagine that Satan experienced some sort of confused glee at the cross. He knew he had been unable to deter Christ from wherever he was going, and yet what God was doing seemed to make no sense. Perhaps when Satan “entered into Judas Iscariot” (Luke 22:3), he had reverted to reveling in the pleasure of seeing God suffer. Perhaps when the Son cried out in seeming despair (see Lewis, Perelandra, p. 153), it may even have appeared to him that his victory was at hand, despite the fact that God’s plan was also apparently going forward unhindered.

But what may have appeared senseless or ridiculous or even suicidal to the dark mind was rooted in the greatest and deepest divine truths. Love, God’s love, is all-inclusive, desiring and valuing the good of others. Love gives – God gave himself for us. It was this strange sacrificial “love,” I imagine, that baffled the Enemy. And perhaps the Enemy was no less baffled by God’s firm commitment to justice – that is, by the things God did to execute justice. Paradoxically, Satan’s undoing, and the destruction of death, was the result of God’s insistence on dying himself in order to pay the just wages of sin (Romans 3:23). The actions of God, being determined by both his love and justice – indeed, by all of his divine qualities – could only have been perplexing and mystifying to an adversary who knew no love for others and had no commitment to justice, righteousness, and holiness. The Enemy’s ignorance put him “out of reckoning” in his match against God.

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