We’ve heard harrowing accounts from those on the frontlines of the healthcare industry who have seen the results of COVID-19 firsthand. Our hearts go out to them for their bravery and selfless service to those who are in desperate need.
But for most of us, the coronavirus has been an unseen enemy. We have sheltered in place, taken hygienic precautions, suffered financial setback and even withheld ourselves from worship assembly all because of a microscopic pathogen that is not detectable to our normal senses.
It occurs to me that there are similarities between coronavirus and another deadly enemy, one far more pervasive and virulent than the pandemic now gripping the world. Like coronavirus:
Satan is real. Scripture describes Satan as a real, conscious, personal being rather than mere personified evil. He converses with God (regarding Job) and man (in Eden) and reasons with Jesus from Scripture (temptation). Satan uses “devices” against us (II Cor. 2:11). This word means “that which is thought out” – i.e., Satan intellectually crafts ways to undermine our faith.
Satan is unseen. Satan is a being from a spiritual dimension, thus we are not equipped to see him. But that doesn’t mean he isn’t near us. Think of infrared goggles that enable soldiers to “see” a heat signature from an enemy. We, too, have a special detection device that reveals Satan’s presence in the world. It is called Scripture.
Satan’s effects are evident. As certain horrible physical symptoms signal invasion by coronavirus, so it is with Satan. While materialists deny moral and spiritual realities, thinking people recognize an evil force in the world that is different from natural, chemical process. Jesus clearly diagnosed the malady of His Jewish opponents: “You do the deeds of your father. ... You are not able to listen to My word. You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do.” (John 8:41, 44). Murder, lying, stealing, abuse, sexual indiscretion, greed, etc., are not just humans doing what they are genetically programmed to do. Rather, they display the effect of a malevolent spirit-being upon a vulnerable, willing soul.
Satan must be fought by faith. The medical expert would argue that coronavirus is a reality, not a matter of faith. But for most of us who have never actually seen a virus under a microscope, we operate by faith: we believe (or not) the medical experts who educate and warn us; we alter (or not) our behavior based on unseen realities; we follow (or not) our government officials who set policies to help guard us from disease based on our respect for and trust in them. So it is with Satan. Those who know the most about him – the Holy Spirit and the Lord – have given us sufficient knowledge and guidance to be aware of his influence and avoid him.
A main difference: Pharmaceutical companies are working feverishly on a vaccine against coronavirus. If only Satan could be defeated with an injection! As it is, we are in a battle for our souls, and there’s no opting out because the struggle is deadly and difficult. We must fight it to the bitter end, but we have better help than Dr. Anthony Fauci and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. We will win by God’s grace.