In the TV show friends, Rachel claims that her favorite movie is “Dangerous Liaisons”. But her actual favorite movie is “Weekend at Bernie’s”. I’ve only seen weekend at Bernie’s once, but the concept stands out in my mind. So, Richard and Larry receive an invitation from Bernie, their boss to spend the weekend at his super-nice beach house. At the time they had no idea that Bernie was running a con and that He was going to have the two of them killed to cover it up. Instead, Bernie ends up dying and Richard and Larry determine they aren’t going to let a little death spoil their vacation. They spend their vacation pretending that Bernie is still alive.
It’s a rather ridiculous plot, but it created some funny moments, like when a floating party comes to Bernie’s house and Bernie’s physical trainer cracks Bernie’s neck.
There’s another movie with a similar concept. Men in Black. This interstellar bug comes to earth in search of a galaxy, crashes his spaceship into Edgar’s farm. When Edgar goes out with the shotgun to see what the crash was, the bug steals Edgar’s skin and wears it as a suit. The rest of the movie the skin is awkwardly falling off the bug and starting to get gangrene.
1 John 3:8 says, “The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the Devil’s work.” Then in the next chapter we come across this well-known verse: “You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.”
Jesus’ coming to earth accomplished a lot of things, but one of the primary things Jesus did was to destroy the devil’s work. Hebrews 2:14-15 says: “Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil— 15 and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.”
The Devil meddles in death. Ephesians 2:1-3 says: “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2 in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3 All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath.”
The Devil meddles in death and all the ways of the devil who is the prince of the Spirit of this age lead to death. The Devil who rebelled against God and was cast out of heaven, that snake who deceived Eve and Adam in the garden is destined for destruction and he wants to take down as many with Him as He can.
The Devil meddles in death and all his ways are death. Jesus fills us with life and all His ways are righteous. The way of the world is death, the way of Jesus is life. The way of the world is antichrist.
“Does that mean that anything that is not of Christ is against Christ?” Well, probably. We don’t want to admit that. We don’t want to be put into a position where we have to start denying ourselves things that we enjoy like binge-watching Stranger Things on Netflix or spending hours on end Tik-Toking and Gramming.
“So,” we tell ourselves, “as long as I’m not doing anything unChristlike by watching or participating in these things, then I’m okay.” Well, maybe. But, maybe not. Because it’s not just the blatant impure, outlandish sins that God is concerned with eradicating from our hearts. It’s the entire system of thinking that has a hold of us that God wants to deal with.
This is what makes Lent such an important season for the believer in the Western world in the 21st century. We don’t deny ourselves anything. We can have anything we want at anytime we want it. We can have a McDonald’s Big Mac, some Taco Bell Nachos and a Wendy’s Frosty delivered right to our door if we’re willing to pay the price. And many do just that. We don’t deny ourselves. And without denying ourselves, we don’t even begin to realize just how deep the system of the world has been programmed into our minds.
What ends up happening is we end up like Richard and Larry or the Bug. We end up trying to use the life of Christ to prop up the deadness we enjoy. We get just enough of the life to animate us, but we keep putting on our Edgar suits. We play at life to maintain our standards of death. We want the life of Christ but we want the lusts of the flesh, the lusts of the eyes and the pride of this life.
Jesus said: “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” (Matt 6:24) Whether it’s driven by money or not, we’re constantly trying to serve two masters. We’re trying to serve Jesus and ourselves. We’re trying to serve life and death. We really want the life of Christ. We really, really do. We, just don’t want to give up the stuff of death that we still really like too.
But, here’s the thing, the Reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work. Jesus didn’t come to put us at ease for embracing the devil’s work he came to destroy it. He has to destroy it or we can’t be in God’s presence. This is the work of the Spirit of truth and life within us, destroying all the ways we have accepted the Devil’s work instead of God’s.
God is holy, that just who He is. In him there is no darkness at all. There is nothing impure, nothing flawed, nothing broken. If God is going to be in our presence and be our God as is His eternal plan, he has to deal with the impurities in His people. He does this by destroying them.
God will either destroy them through Jesus apart from us by the work of Christ on the cross and resurrection. Or He will have to destroy us when He destroys them in the end. Either way they will be destroyed.
The devil has already been defeated. He has no power or authority over us that we don’t surrender to him. The problem is we’re surrendering to the works of the devil because his works are instantly gratifying and the work of Christ is enduring. The devil’s work plays to our temptations and the here and now where Christ’s work is about eternal transformation. So, as Andy Stanley says, “We give up what we want most for what we want now.”
If we are to become love we have to let go of the devil’s dead works. His works have nothing to do with love. His works have to do with self-fulfillment, self-sufficiency and self-enjoyment. But the works of Christ are about denying ourselves to be truly fulfilled in Christ. Denying ourselves to receive the absolutely complete and perfect sufficiency of Christ and denying ourselves so that we may experience a joy unspeakable and full of glory.
The decision is always up to us because God will not force Himself upon us. He will do everything He can to make it absolutely obvious for us which choice is the good and right choice, but He still allows us to choose the one bad thing if we must. We must decide, are we going to deny ourselves the Edgar suit so we can wear the Jesus suit? Would you rather be clothed in death or clothes in the righteousness of Christ?