Lent – it’s the very devil!

Feb 21, 2021 by

by Peter Mullen, The Conservative Woman:

Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil – Matthew 4:1ff

THE old devil writes to the young devil in C S Lewis’s The Screwtape Letters – which I recommend highly – ‘Remind your Christian that devils are comic figures in the modern perception. Suggest to him a picture of something in red tights and persuade him that, because he cannot believe in that, he cannot believe in you.’

The devil is still around. He is the old enemy. In the Old Testament a satan was originally an obstacle placed in someone’s way by God, for some good purpose. Read for instruction the charming and wonderful fable about Balaam and his talking donkey in Numbers Chapter 22. Am I not thine ass upon whom thou has ridden all the days of thy life? In the Book of Job, Satan is one of the sons of God who acts as an accuser, a sort of counsel for the prosecution, come to tell God that Job loves God only because God has made Job rich. And again, in today’s story of Jesus’s temptations in the wilderness, the devil is like a sharp-witted barrister, punningly quoting the Law to his own ends: If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. In the New Testament Greek, the pun takes the form of a little rhyme: Command that these lithoi become artoi. The little stones in the wilderness were actually shaped like small loaves, just to add to the confusion of someone tired out and dizzy with hunger.

But does the devil exist? I would rather say that he subsists, parasitical on what’s good. He is like the shadow of a person which can appear only because the real person exists. The devil is logically necessary because as soon as you say one thing you imply its opposite. Teenager: I’m going out, dad. Dad: No you’re not! Good implies the possibility of bad. And this, incidentally, is the beginning of the answer to the so-called problem of evil. The very existence of good demands the possibility of not-good. How could virtue be virtuous if vice were impossible? There are lies only because first there is truth.

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