the Devil

Ephialtes

300

So, if you know me, you that one of my absolutely favorite movies of all times, though it is rated R, is 300. If you have seen it, I don’t need to explain why; if you haven’t seen it, I won’t explain, just rent it and you will understand the greatness of this movie. There are amazing and dynamic characters and so many great one-liners, and truth be told, I considered it before, but not until I last watched it that I finally was able to put thoughts together to write.

With all that being said, it is one specific character that caught my attention, whose story reflects what I attempt to share as I write. Ephialtes. He was a deformed Spartan whose hearts desire was to fight like his father, however when he approached King Leonidas, Leonidas respectfully denied, yet gave him another option to aid in the battle for freedom, which Ephialtes did not like. Thus, he betrayed his allegiance and long story short went to the enemy’s camp, Xerxes, god-king of Persia, to get the “honor” he wanted.

It made me think, so often we have in mind what we want to do solely on the culture around us; we want to fit in. However, God tells us no, we get upset, frustrated, and tend to do stupid things. However, like Leonidas, God will tell us or show us where how He can best use us, highlighting our strengths, but because sometimes it is too “small of a task” we take things into our own hands, we don’t like the background, we want to be in the front. The problem is that these “big tasks” can’t function, let alone succeed without those behind the scenes, those bandaging the wounded and giving them water or collecting dead bodies. Just like a body, every enzyme not seen with the naked eye is significant, and without it we would falter gravely. Ephialtes was blinded to this by his pride. As a result, he did the worse possible thing.

He went to Xerxes, asking for the same thing as Leonidas, and like Satan, Xerxes played to his pleasures and stroked his ego, and all he had to do was kneel, the exact same way that Devil tempted Jesus. This kneeling was not out of reverence or love, but of greed, arrogance, and manipulation. The Devil comes the same way, as an angel of light, appealing to our desires and pride, but it is not in God’s will or timing, thus we need to run far from it. Like Xerxes, the only thing Satan has in mind is destruction, giving in to those temptations is what damages our relationship with God, families, reputation, honor, and testimony. The problem is that we want when we want it how we want it.

If you look back in the conversation Ephialtes had with King Leonidas, you notice that he asked him to stand. That is so profound to me, because God has called us to stand, to be strong in Him and confident to face whatever Hell has to throw at us, trusting in His power and love, His mercy and grace, His provision and protection. Kneeling before Him and worship is a given, but it’s a choice we make on our own; those under Leonidas’ rule gladly knelt before him out of respect and a genuine love for him, Xerxes on the other hand, if not coerced, they just did so out of duty and to keep “getting.” Like the Devil, Xerxes just gave him what he wanted so he could get what he wanted, not because he actually cared, but he wanted to destroy the other kingdom.

So many get caught in that web and we miss the great opportunity that God has for us in serving Him in a way that brings out the best in us; we want someone else’s gift and hinder God from using us and Him shining through us. Like God sees in us, Leonidas saw the best in Ephialtes and catered toward his strength; like Satan does to us, Xerxes saw the worse in Ephialtes and played to his weakness. It wasn’t until he sees Leonidas again face-to-face that he realizes how completely wrong he was, just through Leonidas’ compassion; he still blessed Leonidas. In the same way whenever we come back to the loving arms of our King, His arms are open and He still desires to bless us, even though it was our betrayal that lead Him to a glorious death on the as was Leonidas. As well, pleasure and satisfaction only lasts temporarily when Satan gives it to you, operating outside of purpose and your function, and the aftermath is destruction, brokenness, emptiness, ineffectiveness, and guilt.

Being you for a purpose is accepting and embracing the strengths God has given you, not being prideful or jealous of other people’s gifts. God already knows how He can and wants to use you, and in whatever way, big or small, it will bring glory and you will shine in your differences, so don’t try to blend in; God doesn’t like to use blenders. God wants the best for us, and He truly cares and sees the best in us, even when we don’t; He knows how we can be most effective for His kingdom. He does not try to manipulate us or have impure motives. Trust the wisdom and knowledge of God, don’t do as Ephialtes did and compromise who you are and minimize who you were created to be because things don’t go your way and or God doesn’t do as you wanted Him to. Our king, like Leonidas, has been doing this for a while and has a pretty good track record, so I think He knows what He is doing. Just trust His judgment.

Be you for a purpose, not only yours, but other people’s freedom depends on it.

Devil’s Credit

You know what, the choir sang a song today, and the lyrics express a doctrine that many church people believe. With all that said, I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again, we give the Devil waaaaaaaaaay too much credit. In this scenario, like the song I heard them sing today and many other popular gospel songs, we talk about how the Devil came and stole this and that from us and we are taking it back. Now don’t get me wrong, Jesus himself said that the Enemy comes to steal, and yes he does; full-time he is fulfilling his purpose. But may I dare say, he doesn’t steal everything we give him credit for stealing. More times than we admit, we give it to him or we let him take it, or turn the other cheek when he begins to creep.

Just like what is in your house, you fight to keep it and safeguard what’s in it, so that if anyone tries to get to it, you fight for it. You put up an alarm system or keep a weapon close by, or take up some form of self-defense, and whatever other safety measures. Yet there are those that don’t don’t guard themselves or don’t put forth any worthy effort and pretty much hand over their stuff to the intruder. The Christian life is the same.

Too many of us just hand over our promises without even fighting; we give up too easily; we don’t prepare for the enemy so we can’t and don’t defend ourselves, for things that we never should have given him. To be real, he may not even have our possessions at all, we just let things rust for one reason or another. God says certain things belong to us, and like anything we own, we won’t just hand it over without a fight, and the blessed part about it, God has given us the resources and weapons to protect what’s ours just by His Word alone. What God gave you is yours, not the Enemy’s, to use for His noble purpose that He has for you. Greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world, and if you believe that, there are some things the Devil shouldn’t have access to and should be protected at all times at least by the weapon of His promises. Joy, peace of mind, patience, love, and self-control, those are things that as a follower of Christ, the Enemy should never have the ability to steal, less we give him the keys, giving him access and permission.

Likewise, too many times the things that are going wrong in our lives and the situations that are anything but pleasurable in experiencing, we say the Devil set it up or set us up, or he is attacking us, and we rebuke it. Again, yes he is busy and forever disrupting the kingdom man or woman, but far too often we credit him for what we did too ourselves. To be honest, enough of the things that we do experience that unfavorable things people are giving the Devil credit for, its by their own merit, their own sin or wrongdoing. Sin, going against God’s Word or not doing what He tells us to do in certain situations, we set ourselves up for trouble whether we realize it or not. There is a quote that says “sin will take you further than you ever wanted to go, keep you longer than you ever wanted to stay, and cost you more than you ever wanted to pay.” On the flip side, sometimes the hell that is breaking loose in our lives is a result of prayer; we may have prayed for patience, a good man, a good woman, a sign that God wants us to leave a job or relationship, a more loving spirit, for God to keep us humble, a better house, or a better car without realizing what it will take for us to see His answer fully manifest; so we wind up upset and broken because we forgot what we prayed and neglect to remember that His thoughts and ways are not our own.

So in reality, when we are really reaping what we have sowed or God is setting us up for what we prayed for and preparing us for His purposes, we blame Satan himself. It’s time to wake up with a purpose so that God can get the glory, not the Devil. Lucifer was kicked out of Heaven because of his pride, stop blaming and giving him credit for everything and blowing his head up even more.