My husband likes Ben Rector. Ben is a singer/songwriter we first heard of when he opened for NeedToBreathe a few years ago. Since then, my husband is a fan. I only mention this because the title of this piece, “The Devil Sounds a Lot Like Jesus”, is a line from one of Ben’s new songs that my husband played for me over the weekend, and that one line kind of stuck with me.
When I was about ten, I can remember riding down the road with my grandmother in her huge car. I remember it was summer. my legs were sticking to the leather front bench seat, and the loud air conditioner in her massive car was working overtime trying to cool us off, and having little effect.
Maybe it was that extreme heat that made my grandmother ask the question, “What do you think the devil looks like?”
I had no idea where she was going with that out-of-the-blue question, but I knew just what the devil looked like and I told her, “He’s red and scaly. He has horns and a pointy tail.” And after just a moment, “Oh, and he carries one of those things farmers use to scoop hay… a pitch fork.”
My grandmother smiled and nodded. I would learn in years to come that smile and nod would indicate something good was coming. After a moment, she said, “Actually, the devil doesn’t look like that at all.” You can imagine my shock. If I had been mildly interested in the conversation before, I was really engaged now.
She spoke with all of the authority of someone in the know.
“The devil can be quite beautiful. He can look like many things. Things that pull our attention away from God. Good things.”
I never forgot that conversation with her. It was the first time anyone had ever really talked to me about the enemy of my soul.
The Bible says that he was heaven’s worship leader, and his name was Lucifer. What a grand position! So grand, in fact, that it went to his head, and instead of wanting to worship the one, true God, he wanted that worship for himself. God basically told him there was only room for one God in heaven, so out Lucifer went, banished to be a little “g” god, and to roam the earth, forever separate from God.
I think both my grandmother and the song lyrics are right. I think the devil trips us up from time to time because he sounds a whole lot like Jesus, and he looks a whole lot like good things. (2 Corinthians 11:14)
I would imagine that before Lucifer was evicted from heaven, he was able to spend a good amount of time with Jesus. In my mind, I wonder if they were friends. There is no indication of this in scripture, but proximity might suggest a relationship there… and it might just be how Lucifer is so adept at fooling us.
The Bible tells us to take every thought captive and hold it up to the measure of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5)… the Bible says that Jesus is truth (John 14:6), so we are to hold every thought up to the truth of, or the truth that is, Christ. We have to do this because our enemy is a deceiver. He takes a lie, and couches it in enough truth, so that if we are not diligent enough, we will fall for his trickery. Teachings or things that may seem, on first glance, to be harmless or even good for us, on deeper inspection are actually pulling us away from where we need to be with God, or in Christ.
The devil sounds a lot like Jesus.
As a ten-year-old girl, it was hard for me to grasp that the devil could be beautiful. As a grown woman, I still have trouble sometimes understanding the wily ways of my enemy, and how he can sound so much like my Savior.
It would be easier if my ten-year-old self had been right, wouldn’t it? I mean, we could spot a dude like that coming at us a mile away. But as a grown up, I know things are rarely that simple. The Bible cautions us not to be ignorant of the schemes of our enemy. The good news is, he has no new tricks. He’s been a liar and a thief from day one. So what’s the answer? To know our Savior so well, so intimately, that our enemy might as well be wearing a red devil costume and carrying a pitch fork!