Although it is nowhere near my favourite Star Wars installation I love the name of the devil-like villain in Episode 1 The Phantom Menace.   He is red and black and even has horns.  

Of course the devil doesn’t really look like that, nor does he carry a pitchfork, but the phantom menace he is.  I cannot even think of a better description than that for our adversary the Devil.  It’s quite perfect.  Like a phantom he cannot be seen and he is the menace at the centre of all mankind’s ills.  I think the greatest strategy of the devil is to try to convince people that he doesn’t exist in the first place.  In Canada 82% still believe in God but only 34% believe in a literal devil.  That is a major disconnect.  If people do not accept the existence of the Devil, then God is going to get a lot of blame for things He hasn’t done.  The insurance companies have been doing it for years.  What do they call a catastrophe?  An act of God.   

I am surprised that so many cannot accept the possibility that a real devil is loose on the earth.  If there is no devil, how do you explain Hitler or Pol Pot or Joesph Stalin who all were responsible for killing millions?  How do you explain the current genocides in Rwanda, Darfur and Somalia where the killing is done face to face, neighbour against neighbour.  If the human heart is that dark, then there is no hope of the human race. 

Just before the betrayal of Jesus the scripture says, And Satan entered Judas.  To me that little verse speaks volumes about the real problem with the human condition.  Too many of us are willing pawns of the Phantom Menace.   A little lust, a little pride, a little greed goes a long way once it takes root in the heart of man.  Think about it, if he can get spouses blaming each other for the strife he stirred up in their relationship maybe he can end the marriage.  If he can implant greed into the heart of big business it is just a matter of time before entire nations can collapse economically.  If he can get people groups to hate each other enough to kill each other, then he can just sit back and watch the carnage. 

One would think that a creature like Satan would want the publicity for himself but maybe he is too smart to let his own pride ruin his guise.  If people figure out who it is that is behind their problems, he loses much of his effectiveness. 

Deception has always been the most deadly weapon in Satan’s arsenal.  The bible teaches us to try to recognise when it is the devil that is at work.   1 Peter 5:8 & 9 says,  Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.  Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world.  The devil shouldn’t scare any of us.  He really only has as much power as we give him.  People do almost all of his dirty work.  If we begin to recognise when he is at work, especially in us, we just need to refuse to cooperate.  As strange as this sounds, our world would be a much better place if more people just believed in the devil!



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16 Responses to THE PHANTOM MENACE

  1. Leora says:

    Great blog Pastor Mark! It is amazing that only 34% of the people believe in a literal Devil, and yet you can see the results of his work everywhere. He has come to steal, kill and destroy. Many times our apathy allows him to do just that! Lately, I have become more proactive. Another christian lady & myself have been prayer walking on our block. There is a known drug dealer 2 doors down, plus at least 5 families on this block who are using. I believe in the power of God to change people’s hearts & lives. “Greater is He who is in us, than he who is in the world!”

  2. Karen says:

    I have some questions…
    Why is it that so many denominations take the Bible and “water it down?” I don’t need the same old cop outs like “not politically correct” “not made for our times” etc. Why are there denominations that are taking Gods word and picking and choosing which sins should be forgiven, and which sins we should live with? How do we or can we stop this? Satan is having a grand old time messing with BELIEVERS using God’s word. What is wrong with us! Often it is misconception coming from the pulpit (not yours, Mark) or from church “head offices.” and when people in these denominations try to set church leaders straight, they are often put down or even chased out of their churches.
    How can we unify our churches so that the Devil is put in his place and God is given the place of authority that He should have never left?

  3. CLunn says:

    Picking and choosing which sins are to be forgiven and which ones not to?? Wonder where they went to Bible school? hmmmm Just seems more and more these days they (pastoral leaders – and not all) are “twisting the word,” if you will to fit themselves and what THEY believe in so that they are secure in their thinking that they are indeed going to heaven – boy they are in for somewhat of a surprise if that is what they really believe! I agree with Karen.

    I love your blog and your Sunday TV sermons, Pastor Mark! You are not afraid to tell it like it is!

    Do you think that you could blog on the topic of the year “2012” and all the chatter and havoc that is going on about it?
    God Bless

  4. Steve says:

    Speaking of the devil, I’ve been reading some stuff lately on Hitler and how he was deeply into the occult. I also studied a bit about the new age movement. Not surprisingly this movement comes straight out of the occult as well. The article I read was not written by a Christian but they explained how Hitler’s ideas were so very close to the new age movement.
    I own the message bible because I thought I could trust a Christian store to sell me Christian stuff but I noticed something weird about it so I looked into it. It is filled with new age terms like as above so below which replaces heaven and earth in the Lord’s prayer. All systems of magic are claimed to function by this formula. How nice! There are too many other new age terms in it to print here so you can look them up for yourselves.
    Rick Warren endorses a guy named Leonard Sweet who preaches how the old teachings of Christianity must be replaced with new teachings of “the new light.” Hmmmm, a little odd. He says this is a radical faith commitment that is willing to dance to a new rythm. Really, oh I see the light now. Not! I know everyone loves Rick but maybe we should look a little closer at these guys instead of just taking their word on everything.
    I believe God is going to be calling the true believers to stand firm and not give in to this kind of stuff even if it looks like the church is accepting it. There is something going on in the world today that is so dark and evil and alot of churches are not being discerning enough to see through it.
    The devil’s real and he’s doing business as usual. Cling to the Savior with everything you’ve got. Who knows, our faith could be put to the test not too long from now. I hope my gut feeling is wrong though. God bless.

  5. Mark Hughes says:

    The Message is just a modern day language bible. A good reader but not accurate enough for serious bible study. I heard Leonard Sweet in Winnipeg once, he seemed solid at the time.

  6. Steve says:

    I don’t know a ton about Leonard Sweet but I’ve read some quotes out of his book quantum spirituality and they were not anything he got out of the Bible.Maybe he has gone off track a little and needs someone to show him the error of his ways, I don’t know. I’m just seeing all kinds of crazy ideas coming out of this new emergent church movement.Brian Maclaren is the head of the movement and in his church they are bringing in philosophies from other religions.Their motto is you never know anything for sure.And what I said about the message I am pretty sure is true.I used to like that Bible but something didn’t sit right with me.There are alot of terms used in it that would be known to any new ager. It calls God the God of green hope. This is a colour used by the druids, free masons, and we all know the phrase “go green.” Jesus is the master not the Lord and is refered to alot as “the one,” which is also a new age term. People can choose whatever Bible they want, I’m just saying what I feel God is saying to me. And it can’t hurt anyone to check into these kinds of things once in a while.

  7. Mark Hughes says:

    I have never been a fan of paraphrase bibles (The Message, Living, NLT) as they take way too many liberties. If The Message really says “the God of green hope” (I don’t own one so haven’t seen it) then throw it in the gargage and get yourself a New King James. Even the NIV which is a “dynamic equivalence” translation is too loose for serious bible study.

  8. Steve says:

    Will do. I have the NIV but I’ll take your advice and check out the New King James.Thanks.

  9. Gord says:

    Just for your info, the NKJV is available on iTunes as an app for the iPhone or iTouch. That makes it so portable and easily searchable for quick reference. Glad to hear Pastor Mark thinks NKJV is a good version because I find it very readable.

  10. Isaac says:

    Hey Mark. What does dyanmic equivalence mean? I have an NIV study bible and really enjoy it. God has spoken to me through it plenty, but I suppose He could use anything. Thanks.

  11. Mark Hughes says:

    There are 3 ways to translate the bible. Formal correspondance (word for word like the king james), dynamic equivalence (phrase for phase like the NIV), and paraphrase like the Message.

  12. Evelyn Bennett says:

    I personally have given too much power to the enemy when it comes to bad things happening or occurring. God tries to speak to you in the midst of the trials you are going through at the time.

    I do at times do not hear God speaking to me due to bi-polar disorder. Many in my home group believe I am spiritual when it comes to deepened bible study. Liquid is awesome by the way. We are studying the 10 commandments.

    Kudos to those who would like an accurate interpretation of the word.
    In times like these it is good to be part of a home group to ask questions. If the home group leader(s) are stumped they will ask pastors overseeing the bible studies in our church.

  13. Tony says:

    Hi Mark,
    In regards to your question of percentages of people who believe in God vs. those who also believe in the Devil, I attended a Catholic church service this past weekend and observed that in one of the belief mantras may be a clue to why there is such a disconnect as there was no mention of the Devil. I was raised a Catholic and went to church every Sunday, so this made sense of why (at least a part of why) my personal belief in God is much stronger than my personal belief in the Devil.
    The mantra I’m referring to is the Apostles’ Creed “I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of Heaven and Earth, I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Communion of Saints, the forgiveness of sins and the resurrection of the body and life ever after”, etc…but there is no mention of the Devil. As I was saying this (which I’ve said countless times throughout the years…almost without thinking of what I was or was not saying) I thought of your blog and thought that the teaching of the Devil may not be as engrained as it should.

  14. Heather says:

    I think another aspect of this discussion is the view that Christians have who do believe in the devil. A very common feeling is fear: fear of the devil, fear of evil spirits, fear of fear (the spirit of fear is really from the devil). It’s almost as if people think if they talk about Satan & his kingdom, they are going to be giving it more power or access to their lives. I’m not talking about focusing all the time on Satan & seeing an evil spirit behind every aspect of our lives. I’m talking about the fact that we as Christians need to be aware of & prepared for the battle we are engaged in. Doesn’t that Bible talk about that we don’t battle with flesh & blood?! We need to be practicing discernment (as opposed to just being in fear & ignorance). What are the issues in our lives & in the world that are being influenced by the kingdom of darkness? Even Christians can be influenced by the devil’s kingdom. Once we have discernment, we can choose to change our ways to God’s ways. It’s not an overnight process…I think it’s being changed from glory to glory. In any case, I think we as Christians need to talk about the kingdom of darkness, the strategies of the enemy, & what the Word of God says about fighting the battle. We need to be real with one another about our battles. Really, there is no need to fear. We know the outcome and it’s victory!!

  15. Isaac says:

    I’m with Heather. Especially about being really real with other believers.

  16. What is your policy for re-publishing your articles at website. Also, I like the Holman Christian Standard Bible and English Standard Version. Thanks.

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