The Gospel According to Satan: Eight Lies About God that Sound Like the Truth
JANUARY 18, 2020
I watch movies like The Firm, in which Tom Cruise’s workaday lawyer is wined and dined by a high-powered outfit secretly in bed with the mob.
He goes from ramshackle apartment and dinky car to gated mansion and luxury sedan. I think of another one of those Faustian derivations, The Devil’s Advocate, where Al Pacino’s devil similarly upgrades Keanu Reeve’s country lawyer to New York penthouse riches.
I don’t drive a fancy car or live in a mansion. Compared to most of the world’s population, I am incredibly wealthy, but compared to many of my suburban compatriots, I am not living a life nearly indulgent enough. I don’t really aspire to, but these scenes in these movies appeal to me. I like nice things. I think sometimes it’d be nice not to have to worry about figuring out how to pay for things like braces and unexpected medical bills and college tuition. I want to be wined and dined.
Your Faustian bargain may not be as extravagant. Maybe you just want to keep a little bit more of your income each year, so you figure the IRS won’t notice if you fudge a bit here or there on your taxes. Or maybe your pact with the enemy has nothing to do with money at all. Maybe it’s about the way you justify looking at porn each night. Maybe it’s the way you rationalize taking unethical shortcuts at work. Maybe it’s the gluttonous way you eat, with every day being a “cheat day,” every unhealthy meal a prize you give to yourself for all you put up with.
It could be a big sin or a little sin, but all of it is a big deal. All of it is predicated on the idea that we are owed. Getting what we want is somehow just, we imagine, or at least closer to just than not getting it.
But there is only one thing we are owed—the judgment which we are desperately trying to avoid.
God says, “Don’t eat this fruit. You will die.”
The devil says, “Fake news. You deserve this.”
We say, “I mean, surely a little bit won’t hurt.”
We all have sinned and fall short of God’s glory (Rom. 3:23). We’ve all made the pact. Paul says in Ephesians 2:2 that we’ve all lived according to the devil.
Living as if our life is what we make it is a lie from the pit of hell, which is what is owed to everyone who lives according to this lie. Damnation is the only thing we’re owed.
And there’s only one way out of paying what’s due.
“The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 6:23). As it turns out, if the world will be sorted out, it must be something the Lord does.
Every year brings a fresh crop of self-help books. Every generation sees its own set of motivational speakers and prosperity preachers. Every culture develops its own visions of utopia. And still the problem never goes away. We only discover new ways to commit the same old sins.
We need to be rescued. We need to be remade.
After Adam and Eve fall, they are immediately conscious of their shame and vulnerability. “We’ll fix it,” they think. So they make coverings for themselves out of fig leaves.
When the Lord calls them to account, he lets them know that the death they’ve brought into the world cannot so easily be concealed. And yet he does not wish to leave them naked and afraid. Instead he covers them with the skins of animals.
This is perhaps the first instance of sacrificial covering, long before the official institution of the sacrifices in the Levitical system.
“You cannot cover you,” the Lord says. “But I can. And I will.”
To understand the depths of God’s mercy, we must face honestly the depths of our depravity. We have indeed tried to live self-made lives in a self-made world. We have indeed made a mess of the whole place. Apart from grace, we traffic in death every godforsaken day.
But God, who is rich in mercy, because of his great love that he had for us, made us alive with Christ even though we were dead in trespasses. You are saved by grace! (Eph. 2:4–5)
Taken from The Gospel According to Satan by Jared Wilson. Copyright 2020 by Jared Wilson. Used by permission of Thomas Nelson. GospelAccordingtoSatanBook.com.