In the 1995 movie The Usual Suspects, a con man — Roger “Verbal” Kint — is brought in for questioning in regards to a cargo boat explosion. During the conversation, Kint tells the police that this might be the result of an elusive (sometimes considered mythical) drug lord named Keyser Soze. The cops at first don’t believe Soze is real, to which Kint delivers the most famous line of the movie:
“The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist.”
The quote is significant for us here because of the obvious implications: if Satan has indeed convinced us he doesn’t exist, then he is free to destroy our lives, with us oblivious to his influence. That definitely seems to be the power behind this quote.
But do people really not believe that the devil exists?
According to a 2013 survey, about 57% of Americans think the Devil exists. However, though more than half of Americans believe the he is real, what does their behavior say? Though the majority of Americans say that they believe Satan exists, they behave as if he doesn’t.
Though a lot of Christians give lip-service that they believe Satan and the spiritual realm are a concrete reality, they fail miserably in equipping themselves with the very tools that God has given them to protect themselves against these forces.
In Ephesians 6:10–20, Paul tells Christians that, not only are the “spiritual forces of evil” a very real and influential part of our lives, but that the only means by which we can protect ourselves against them is by equipping ourselves with the “armor of God”. This armor is a metaphor for the spiritual tools that Christians have at their disposal to protect themselves from the “schemes of the Devil.” Do you know what the Devil’s ultimate scheme is?
He wants to utterly destroy you (1 Peter 5:8).
The armor of God includes things such as truth, God-given righteousness, the Gospel, faith, salvation, and the Word of God. Lastly, but certainly not least, Paul implores us to pray. This one is so important that he singles it out to remind us how frequently we are to do it: all the time, in every circumstance, without ceasing.
If you are a Christian, then putting on this armor must become a daily practice. Are you trusting daily in God’s goodness and care for you (faith)? Are you reminding yourself daily of how you are now an adopted son or daughter of God, forever in his protective grace and mercy (salvation)? Are you prepared at all times to share the good news about Jesus with those around you (the Gospel)? Do you consistently open up your Bible to learn new ways that the Scripture applies to your struggles and circumstances (The Word of God)? Are you praying without ceasing?
Christians that are not striving for these things daily are falling prey to Satan’s schemes. They may say that they believe Satan exists, but they’re acting like he doesn’t. Take this as a sincere warning: you cannot win without the resources that God has provided for you. Start using them today, this very second.
Does what you say you believe align with your behavior? Do you say that you believe in the spiritual influence of the Adversary, but behave as if he doesn’t exist?
Maybe we should update the movie quote, changing it to: “The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing Christians that he wasn’t a threat.”
He is a threat, he always has been a threat, and on this side of eternity, he always will be a threat. Never put your guard down. You can’t afford to.