We’ve all heard it, especially those of us who like to think of ourselves as Christians. We tend to attune to it more because it is a jarring intrusion on who we like to think we are. To the sophisticated and better educated “the voice” generally seems to be just thoughts–thoughts surfacing in the stream of consciousness–embarrassing bits of debris floating on an otherwise lovely, placid pond.
It is often a critical, accusatory voice. But not always. Often its a voice that’s not a bit embarrassing or intrusive. It’s a voice we want to hear. It’s a voice that tells us we’re the best–certainly better than others. It reminds us that we may be a sinner, but not nearly as big a sinner as so-and-s0 and old whats-his-name. We may be a bit bad but whoa, they’re far worse. It is the voice that tells us we’re smarter, better, and holier. It’s the same voice that told the nihilist philosopher Nietzsche that whereas most men looked up to be exalted, he looked down because he was exalted.
It is the voice that tells us its better to be a Baptist than a Catholic, better to be a Republican than a Democrat, better to be white than black or brown, better to be a Gator or an Aggie, than a ‘Nole or a Hoosier–or better to be a Jew than a Greek. It’s the voice of sanctimony. It is the voice that told the Pharisee that it was good to be a Pharisee.
Well, that voice is too pleasant and subtle to be hideous–no, not at all–more comforting and reassuring. It is the sweet tone of the seducer–the sophist who plays with words and makes sin seem sort of, well, harmless. After all. Paul reminds us that the devil tranforms into an angel of light (2 Cor. 11:14). The voice we are more familiar with is the one which gives us a play-by-play narrative on our sins, our shortcomings and our errors. It is the voice that says one is not worthy. It is the voice that says God disapproves–nay, hates you. It is the voice that says its okay to do unto others what was done unto you. It is the voice that says it’s okay to lie and hide and live an inauthentic life because no one could possibly love or understand the real you. It is the voice that says life isn’t worth living because there is no hope. It is the voice that says that just one little ole drink wouldn’t hurt. It is the voice that says to the man with the gun at his temple, “Just do it.” And it is the voice that says to heed nothing but that voice.
It is the voice that crucifies Jesus again and again. After all, there is a lot of scripture that basically says we’re toast. Perhaps its the voice that brings those scriptures readily to mind when we need to hear something about hope and love and forgiveness. Sometimes it’s difficult to discern the voice of the accuser from the voice of the Holy Spirit. A hint: one leads to repentance but the other leads to deeper despair and self-loathing.
Paul refers to Satan, the accuser, as the prince of the power of the air (Eph 2:2). He lives in the thought-mosphere, in the aether, and his hideous voice is manifested in our thoughts. For most, they’re just thoughts arising from who knows where, but to schizophrenics and the actively psychotic they are “voices” labled by psychiatrists as hallucinatory.
Five years ago I published Satan’s Top Ten Tricks to give Christians a leg up in discerning and defeating that voice. It is about my own struggles in the realm of spiritual warfare and the discernment given me by the Holy Spirit. Last year I wrote somewhat of a sequel Jesus v. satan: The Message of the Wilderness Temptations. the second book is about each individual’s struggle with the idols of materialism, power/control and security/safety.
Well, my books are climbing up the NY Times best seller list–not. They haven’t even set the Christian publishing world on fire. There are a few hundred in circulation and I’ve gotten a few testimonials about them being life changing. But what I’ve discovered is that Satan and his demonic host are a topic most mainstream Christians would prefer to ignore. Most prefer books giving helpful hints on “Christian” living or at least on grace and hope. We can never get enough of hope. But maybe folks need to take a look at the archdemon too. He’s active in our lives whether we like it or not. Most hear his hideous voice every day. And I’ll give his best trick away: Satan’s #1 trick. . . a drum roll please, is his invisibility.