Destroying devils

ACCORDING to the Bible, one of the reasons Christ Jesus came was to ``destroy the works of the devil.'' 1 Jesus wasn't fooled into believing that devil, or evil, was an actual power that could overthrow good, and his life and works powerfully illustrate this. But, as his teachings show, he realized that anyone holding a purely physical, mortal concept of himself and the universe might be taken in by the deceptions of evil. Evil flourishes wherever somebody accepts it as real, and indeed the devil seems to be very busy. Hatred and cruelty are widespread. So are stress, depression, and feelings of helplessness and instability. But we don't have to accept these as inevitable or immovable.

An individual had an experience that illustrates this. She knew Jesus wasn't removing something actual from inside a person when he got rid of a devil, and she would have scoffed at the notion that she might have such a troublemaker in residence. But then, during a church service, she heard the words ``casting out devils'' read from the Bible. How could she claim exemption from devilish influences when she was still battling a speech defect that had plagued her from early childhood?

The affliction had shadowed her youth and made school almost intolerable. She wrote instead of talking, substituted words, avoided the telephone and public speaking. Speech therapy was unknown in that period, and all that her family could do was to ignore the handicap compassionately and trust that she'd outgrow the stuttering.

During her teens the family was introduced to Christian Science. She learned that a loving God was the only genuine cause and that there could be nothing imperfect in His creation. Therefore this condition was a gross imposition fostered by ignorance of the dominion promised to every one of God's children. She could sing without interruption, so why shouldn't she be as free with her speech?

There was progress, but it was slow. As an adult she moved to another locality, and that helped because new friends didn't expect her to have a speech problem. But even after identifying the defect as an ungodly misconception, she still didn't see that her suffering was rooted in a subtle belief that there was a power that could nullify good. Besides, this ``familiar spirit'' had been around so long she felt too embarrassed about it even to consider asking a Christian Science practitioner to pray for her. Consequently, an occasional attack would bring a discouraging relapse.

Then one day after such an incident, she rebelled. God alone and nothing else really governed her life. So why prolong misery by continuing to act as the devil's advocate? The struggle was entirely too much trouble!

Her refusal to pay the maintenance cost of a hellish condition brought complete freedom. Although she didn't realize it at the moment, she was following the Biblical admonition ``Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.'' 2 In retrospect she also understood that the reluctance to arrange for Christian Science treatment had been part of the devilish propaganda that held her in bondage. And what a penalty she had paid for such ignorance! How much better it is to pay the price of spiritual understanding--meekness, obedience, and love! The Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, writes: ``Seek Truth, and pursue it. It should cost you something: you are willing to pay for error and receive nothing in return; but if you pay the price of Truth, you shall receive all.'' 3

No one understood this better than Jesus, and thanks to him we have clear directions to protect us from being deluded by the devil's fallacious arguments. Through his healing works the Way-shower destroyed the false evidence of evil as power, of man as a mixture of good and bad. He exposed the delusion that evil provides satisfaction and that goodness is either impossible, too much effort, or really not all that important.

We would do well to follow his example. The desire to obey God's law does not punish; it blesses. Bible study and prayer are ways to move forward spiritually and prove the power of God ourselves.

Tension and physical disorders do not come to us from God. They are demons--falsities that God never created--and need to be cast out through divine power. Supported by the might of infinite good, we're well equal to the task. 1 I John 3:8. 2 James 4:7. 3 Miscellaneous Writings, p. 342.

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