Is It War, Or Is It Life? -- By: Scott Souza

Journal: Reformation and Revival
Volume: RAR 04:1 (Winter 1995)
Article: Is It War, Or Is It Life?
Author: Scott Souza

Is It War, Or Is It Life?

Scott Souza

There’s a strange verse in Acts—strange because it shows us the nearly indiscernible blend between spiritual warfare and common life which confronts the Christian at every turn. It is the verse in which Peter says, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit?” (5:3). Peter almost seems to be asking Ananias why he was a victim of a satanic device. But the idea that “the Devil made him do it” was not an excuse. In fact, it cost him his life. Ananias, whether he knew it or not, allowed his heart to be conquered by satanic ideas.

In other words, becoming a passive instrument for Satan is a culpable act. Sapphira, the wife of Ananias, was aware of (“agreed together”) her husband’s deed and shared his guilt. She too died. Quite possibly neither of them understood that they were obeying a satanic impulse. More probably, they simply wanted to contribute enough to the common fund (4:34–35) so that they would be able to dip into the common pot while having hidden assets on the side as well. By claiming a certain amount as a contribution, they could claim to be impoverished by that amount and then use the figure as the basis for a request of assistance (4:35b). This would have been a misappropriation of funds set aside to promote the physical and even the spiritual welfare of the church (in the sense of the love, the unity, and the relief of emotional distress that come when we are generous to one another).

This incident illustrates the danger of warfare with Satan. His traps can be deadly. We are not told whether the incident just mentioned was unwitting or not. It matters little. The willing heart is insensitive to and cooperates with satanic manipulation, whether the manipulations are discernible or not. Most often, we are aware only of the voice of our own heart. Indeed, the crux of the matter is in the human heart, not in the satanic device.

Everything from a sudden urge to a prolonged agony can be used by Satan to push a person into sin. There is no pressing need, however, to attempt to distinguish between our urges

and those induced by Satan. Whatever the source of the urge, we bear the responsibility for the deed.

Even in the passage where Paul says, “We are not ignorant of his schemes” (2 Cor. 2:11), there is no list of the schemes. The emphasis in the context is that “excessive sorrow” (a condition of the human heart which is usable by Satan) is the pit that Satan ca...

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