Even a quick overview of the Bible, especially the New Testament, tells us that people are divided in two groups: the group of Jesus and the group of Satan. There is the group of those who gather with Jesus and the one of those who scatter with the devil. There are Disciples of Jesus as there are Satan’s minions; the blessed and the cursed; the children of light and those of darkness; those heading for Life and those heading for destruction.
Now, since the two groups are made up of people who are children of the same Heavenly Father, and endowed with freedom so that they can choose life with Him or death away from Him, belonging to one group or the other is not finalized for as long as we are on this earth. Hence there is the challenge of being always alert about the guiles of the devil and the constant offers of divine grace showered upon all of God’s children by the Holy Spirit. Hence, we must be mindful of a few crucial truths.
- There is only one Lord of lords, one King of the kings, Jesus Christ.
- Satan is in no way equal to God; he is simply a rebellious creature of God.
- Satan who continues to put us to the test; who keeps deceiving us; who lies to us, and puts intriguing spins even on Holy Scripture passages to ensnare us, has already lost the war because Jesus defeated him in his death on the cross and in his resurrection.
- Satan cannot tempt us beyond our strength to resist (1 Cor. 10: 13).
So, you might ask: why is Satan continuing to wage a futile battle after he has already lost the war? It is because he cannot say with those who belong to Jesus’ group that Jesus is Lord! If the devil were to say: “Jesus is Lord,” he would be admitting defeat and would have to submit to the Lord. There is no way Satan would bring himself to do that.
We belong to Jesus’ group also because of what St. Paul proclaims in his Letter to the Romans (10:9): For, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. Do you see? We confess, although not often enough and with not enough enthusiasm, that Jesus is Lord and that he is victorious over Satan—for God raised him from the dead!
Furthermore, if we read what St. Paul reveals about the work of the Holy Spirit in us, we have further evidence that, presently, we belong to Jesus’ group. In his Letter to the Corinthians (1 Cor 12:3), Paul states: Therefore, I tell you that nobody speaking by the Spirit of God says, “Jesus be accursed.” And no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.
So, sustained by the Holy Spirit, we want to affirm that Jesus is the only Lord whom we truly love and are firmly determined to serve. Furthermore, on whom should we rely to make sure that Satan will continue to fail in all his attempts to make us switch sides?
Who assures us that we will share forever in Christ’s victory? The Holy Spirit, of course! But how could this realization possibly surprise us? The Holy Spirit filled the being of Jesus at his baptism in the Jordan River; and the same Holy Spirit led Jesus into the desert for forty days, to be tempted by the devil. This, too, is a segment of the Father’s grandiose plan of salvation. So is the victory over all His enemies, Satan and death included, granted by the Father to the Son for his obedience unto death on the cross.
Another segment of that plan of salvation is our sharing in Christ’s victory, provided that we remain loyal to him to the end, resist the devil’s temptations and, like Jesus, we, too, are always ready and willing to do the will of the Father. This Lenten Season will be very fruitful for us active in Jesus’ group if we allow ourselves to be led by his Spirit.
- The Holy Spirit will fill our whole being with His presence, as He filled the body of Jesus, and will help us keep the promises we made on the day of our baptism and which we renew, at least once a year, at Easter.
- The Holy Spirit will lead us into the desert of our heart to sort things out and identify whatever troubles us, whatever preoccupies us, whatever frightens us.
- The Holy Spirit will lead us to realize that we cannot live on bread alone; that we need to listen attentively, reflect on and live out God’s Word.
- The Holy Spirit will lead us to conduct ourselves as obedient and docile servants of the Father, just as Jesus is.
In a nutshell: we should keep in mind that, with the Holy Spirit, we can do all things and without Him we cannot do anything even remotely good.
We have seen that even Satan can quote the Bible; even Satan believes in God, yet, being without the Holy Spirit, he cannot love, he cannot tell the truth, he cannot live by the truth, he cannot ever say: Jesus is Lord.
In the Holy Spirit we hope; we are confident to be able to say always: Jesus is Lord; Jesus is our Lord, forever and ever!