I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no claim on me, but I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father. (John 14:30-31 ESV)

Christ uttered these words on the evening of His arrest, hours before He would be crucified. The time of His intimate and private teaching of His disciples was coming to an end. He had, in this setting, introduced them to the coming of the Spirit upon the church, who would teach them all things, and bring to their remembrance what He had previously taught them (John 14:26). He had promised them His peace, and as such it must sustain them and shall sustain them.

But He also spoke of the coming of the evil one, who “has no claim on me,” is how the ESV translates it. “Has nothing in me” is the literal translation that the KJV chose. It means that Christ’s purposes had no common ground with Satan’s. They were not going the same way, nor had similar goals. He had come to destroy the works of the devil, not to make compromises and find a way to work together (1 John 3:8).

It is normal in our relations with other people to seek the common ground. “What interests do we share?” we wisely ask, and we say honestly that politics makes for strange bed fellows. We are to love our fellow human whether he is a believer or not, and many times we may rightly seek common ground with unbelievers. But the politics of heaven, the ultimate questions of eternity and holiness, allow for no such compromise. Christ and Satan are not going the same direction. We read:

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. (1 John 2:15-17 ESV)

There can be no compromise in our lives with evil. It may appear that we are going the same direction at some times, but we are certainly not.

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God…Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming. (Col. 3:1-6 ESV)

We often say things that are based partially on truth but are misused or skillfully worded so as to deceive us, things like “love is stronger than hate.” These words sound good and right, and in some senses they are, and we are commanded to love those who hate us, and to forgive those who hurt us. But on a closer examination we can see that these words can also clash with what God teaches. The 1 John passage above, for example, commands us not to love the world system, that is the values and ways of the world. The inspired psalmist wrote, “Do I not hate those who hate you, O LORD?” (Psalm 139:21). Love of evil does not conquer anything except good.

The continued drama of Christ and the devil is being acted out every day in our midst, around us and sometimes within us. The trial of the cross is renewed each day in some way or another and we must choose, as Christ chose, to honor God and so to follow Christ. The trial of the cross is the compromise with the devil, the compromise with the world, and that is where a Christian must devote his whole soul to the worship and to the honoring of Christ.

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