As children we sang “London Bridge is falling down, falling down, falling down…” It’s a children’s rhyme that might have its origins in earlier times when attacks caused the bridge to be in need of repair.
On the night of June 3, 2017, it seemed as if the Bridge was falling down. Eight people were killed and dozens injured as three men wielded knives in an attack which began on London Bridge and then moved to Borough Market in the heart of London.
Police quickly responded and shot and killed the three men. The attack lasted all of eight minutes.
Eight minutes is not long. But eight minutes is all we need to agree that evil exists in our world. Jesus acknowledged evil when he taught us to pray, “… deliver us from the evil one.” Jesus knew something about the battle with evil and the evil one. Immediately after his baptism Jesus was led to the wilderness for a time of testing by the devil. The “devil” is also called the “tempter” because that is what he does.
He tempted Jesus three times in an attempt to divert him from God’s purposes. Jesus refused each one by quoting scripture: “Man must not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” “Do not test the Lord your God.” “Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him.”
For all we don’t know about the “tempter” here’s what we do know. Whenever Satan and his demons make an appearance in scripture it is always in a story about God’s power over them and of their “defeat and destruction.”
We see this in Jesus’ ministry as he heals the sick and casts out those who are demonized. We see it most clearly at the cross where Satan unleashed all his ammunition and lost the fight when Jesus rose from the dead on the third day.
We also know that though defeated, the evil one still has some ammunition. Paul reminded us to “… put on the full armor of God so that you can stand against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this darkness, against evil, spiritual forces in the heavens.”
Does Paul sound frightened? No. Does he sound aware? Yes. The devil has “schemes.” The Greek word is “methodeia” from which we get our word “methods.” The adversary has a plan. So Paul wants us to have a plan too. “Put on the full armor” he says. “Pray at all times in the Spirit with every prayer and request, and stay alert with all perseverance and intercession for all the saints.”
To withstand evil arm yourself with prayer. Need to know the methods of the evil One? Pray. Want to stay alert to his schemes? Pray. Know some people who are under attack? Pray. Arm yourself with prayer.
And arm yourself with God’s word. Jesus did. He looked Satan square in the eyes and brandished his greatest weapon: the truth of scripture. And scripture won the battle.
It’s important to understand that the Greek word for “devil” is “diabolos.” It comes from a root verb that means “to split.” That’s who the devil is: a splitter or divider.
Do you see friends divided? They’ve fallen victim to the schemes of the devil.
Do you see a family divided? Then you’ve seen the work of the devil.
Do you see a country divided? Don’t blame Republicans or Democrats. Go deeper than that to the root cause of the division: the devil.
Satan is a splitter and a divider. If you have felt his attacks, don’t give up. Some days can be dark and difficult. Some days it may look like London Bridge is Falling Down. But remember that Jesus is still on his throne. He has defeated Satan.
And arm yourself with this promise of Scripture: “… the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.”
Question: Where do you find evil on the attack in your world?