Thursday, July 22, 2010

Our battle is not against flesh and blood...

I'm not in the habit of dwelling on Satan. Yes he's real, yes he's powerful. But our God is infinitely more powerful. I actually don't think of Satan often at all. I'm aware that he and his demons are out there lying, deceiving, stealing, destroying. But Christ has crushed the serpent's head. His fate is sealed.

I've found two songs particularly helpful though, and they deal with Satan. The first (which I posted a few months ago) is Project 86's Destroyer. It's a song to Satan. One verse says:

The lives that you thought that were yours to devour
Destroyer, the tables have turned in this hour
The plagues you unleashed, every vice that you fed
Shall be visited here tenfold on your head!!

The musical style of Project 86 makes that verse (and the whole song) sound like a victorious battle cry. You want to shout in defiance of Satan's schemes. You may even find yourself hating your sin more, knowing that Christ has accomplished this victory.

The other song I heard more recently and is very different from this song by P86, and it's the reason for this post. It's called Son of the Morning by Oh, Sleeper from their album of the same name. I'm going to post the lyrics in their entirety at the end.

The song is a conversation between Satan and God. When I listen to it I find it absolutely chilling. I don't often think of the absolute hatred Satan has for God and his sons and daughters. And I think we can often focus on how much people like us. And if we're Christians, we can forget how much hatred there can be towards Christ in the world. I think this song, while not glorifying it, shows the reality of the absolute hatred that Satan has for Christ and those who follow him.

God's words in this song are few, but they're enough. It reminds me of Satan standing before God asking permission to torment Job. Satan likes to talk a lot and makes a lot of claims (Job will curse you). God says very little (you may do this, but not this). You know who's words have the authority.

I find this song incredibly encouraging. Without Christ, this is who's side I would be on. I would not be in Christ's kingdom. I would be in the kingdom of darkness, sharing the dreadful (and deserved) fate of this fallen angel. He is my enemy. My enemy isn't my coworker or that old friend who hurt my feelings. My battle is spiritual. But Christ has won that battle, and the war. In Christ I am a new creation. I am no longer a slave to sin. I am no longer damned. Christ's perfect life, substitutionary death and his glorious resurrection have secured my fate. And it's one of hope and new life.

You may not be used to seeing lyrics like this from a Christian band (yes, they're Christian). And it may not have the same impact reading as it does listening to it (the singer is a screamer). But the contrast between what I know of God and hearing/reading the words below are striking. If Satan can have such hatred towards God and his sons, and knowing that God's love for me is infinitely more...well, it's enough to make you weep in thankfulness.

Oh, Sleeper - Son of the Morning

And they call him the son of the morning...
I am the rival. I am the one who speaks in whisper.
Hear me now, dear, weak forgiver.
Hear me now, weak forgiver. Hear me now...
Don’t send an angel to face the devil.
You’re wasting power on grace. A maggot will always seek to feed from the grave,
where I’ll lead them and teach them to feast on the skin that defeats them, the skin they crave.

"If you could see like me you’d see you haven’t won anything.
If you could see like me you’d see, it’s by my grace that you’re breathing.
If you could see like me you’d see you haven’t won anything.
If you could see like me you’d see."

Every night I start my rise, climbing high into the morning sky,
but soon after I lose your bride and I damn your son for stealing my light.
This world is mine...
They call me the son of the morning. They call me the son of the morning.
I can mound all your fallen past the clouds as they roll in,
and when I do I will claim your throne through all these cowards you call your sons.
I am the lord of air and my dawn will last forever.
Go on pouring out because in the end I will have them.

"If you could see like me you’d see you haven’t won anything.
If you could see like me you’d see, it’s by my grace that you’re breathing.
If you could see like me you’d see you haven’t won anything.
If you could see like me you’d see, your precious light is fading.
Your light is fading."

CSL’s Screwtape on Christians, Politics, and Social Justice

(C.S. Lewis wrote The Screwtape Letters from the perspective of a senior demon. For instance the “Enemy” is God.)

“About the general connection between Christianity and politics, our position is more delicate.

Certainly we do not want men to allow their Christianity to flow over into their political life, for the establishment of anything like a really just society would be a major disaster.

On the other hand, we do want, and want very much, to make men treat Christianity as a means; preferably, of course, as a means to their own advancement, but, failing that, as a means to anything—even to social justice.

The thing to do is to get a man at first to value social justice as a thing which the Enemy demands, and then work him on to the stage at which he values Christianity because it may produce social justice. For the Enemy will not be used as a convenience. Men or nations who think they can revive the Faith in order to make a good society might just as well think they can use the stairs of Heaven as a short cut to the nearest chemist’s shop. Fortunately it is quite easy to coax humans round this little corner.”

HT: Justin Taylor

Thursday, July 15, 2010

With death You paid my ransom

I was listening to Haste the Day's new album Attack of the Wolf King this morning and a thought struck me during the song Travesty which contains this line:

"You cover me! I am spent and with death you paid my ransom."

The album, which I haven't dug into that much, is apparently a concept album. From

With such a unique name as Attack of the Wolf King, it is no surprise to learn that it is a concept album. It tells of a herd of sheep protected from a pack of wolves by righteous lions. To open with "Wake Up The Sun," a group of individuals (the sheep) are running from an unnamed threat, but feel that their "hearts are empty." "We've tried to run, but it's no use and all this time we've reached the point of desperation." With "Dog Like Vultures" comes the arrival of the lions. "Our eyes are upon you and we will protect you, be assured no fang will breach your fleece." This story can be taken as a basic analogy of our weakness, and Jesus' willingness to protect us. In "Travesty," the sheep proclaim their praise to the lions, as we to our Savior, "With love that the blindest eyes will see, you cover the darkest part of me."

This post isn't about the album, but about that one line from Travesty that hit me, "With death You paid my ransom." And thinking about it in terms of the story of the album, I placed myself in that flock. Surrounded and without hope of escape. Then I thought of the Mel Gibson movie Ransom, where his son is kidnapped, and the kidnapper demanded something (a ransom) in order for Mel's character to get his son back.

Then I started to think about what a ransom is. Typically it's something that is demanded to get something returned that doesn't belong to them, such as a kidnapper with a kidnap victim. The dictionary says ransom is "the redemption of a prisoner, slave, or kidnapped person, of captured goods, etc., for a price." But our situation is much different. We weren't pulled into sin against our will. We dove right in. We ran for it. We were slaves. Not against our will, but willfully. We turned our backs on our Father. But a ransom was needed to rescue us from a bondage we placed ourselves in.

That's pretty offensive. But what did our Father do? The ransom, the only payment acceptable for our sin, was death. Our death. Our blood. But instead of demanding our death, instead of demanding our blood be shed, our Father gave His Son. Can you imagine that exchange? I was thinking of it in terms of the sheep surrounded by the wolves in the story of this album. The Lion makes the exchange. "My Son for their lives." But what the Wolf King didn't realize was that he was giving up all rights to those sheep. They belonged to the Lion now. I wonder if he realized what was happening. I wonder if he realized the game had changed forever. I'm certain he realized it when the Righteous One came bursting forth, very much alive, from that tomb.

I'll end this with more words from the song Travesty. It's very rare that a metal song with screaming/growling vocals can move me to tears. This song does. It's worth a listen. Try and hear the screaming verses as desperate cries to God for aide, and the beautifully sung chorus as a praise of thanks when rescue has come. Our ransom is paid in full. All praise be to God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ.

As I am met with travesty,
and I am broken and I am empty.
And through it all I can see your face.
With words unspoken
I hear your voice and I see the hand,
The hand that writes it all.
You've called the wind to show its worth.
You've called the sun to brag about its warmth.
Because you are the writer!
Because you are the soul of the world.

You cover the darkest part of me
with a look that's sure to set the captives free.
With love that the blindest eyes will see
You cover the darkest part of me.

Full lyrics: