For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. (Ephesians 6:12 ESV)
People aren’t the root cause of evil, but they can be used as instruments to do harm. This can be confusing because most of our problems are related to other people’s behavior towards us and each other. They say and do things that can be hurtful, hateful, and destructive. So what causes many of us to behave this way? The answer is very simple. There is a devil and he has an army who declared war on God. We don’t see Satan or his minions, but we know he exists because you can find his work anywhere you walk. Just watching the news will give you glimpses of what he’s influencing: theft, murder, scandals, etc. If your children have told you a lie, don’t you ever wonder who taught them how to do that?
There are a lot of things we cannot see and yet we know they exist. Ultraviolet light cannot be visualized with the naked eye, but given the right equipment we would be able to detect it. The same holds true with understanding forces of good and evil, and more specifically God and the devil. The Lord equips us with his Word (the Bible) so that we may learn to see more of him and discern between right and wrong based on his statutes.
But we also need mentors and teachers to help us read, understand, and interpret the Bible correctly. Otherwise, we may go astray and be way off the mark. In the worst case scenario, we might be lured into cults and radical beliefs. Yes, Satan knows Scripture and will twist it to confuse and deceive us.
So what is the takeaway here? There is much more to this world beyond what we can see, and human thinking has been corrupted with a bunch of devilish lies. All of the whispering taunts and fear-provoking tactics are designed to manipulate people into doing ungodly things. To top that off, once we commit a sin, Satan accuses us of being so terrible and proclaims that we are unforgivable and no longer valuable to God. Lies, lies, lies.
So the next time we get annoyed or offended by other people because of something they did to us, just remember that there is more to their story. We all have opportunities to extend a little more grace by trying to understand how they got to where they are today. Now this does not mean we should be verbal or physical punching bags. No, we must set firm boundaries and speak truthfully out of love for the other person AND ourselves. Just keep in mind that Satan is the pot stirrer, and chances are that he messed up the situation that you are dealing with today. Seek to understand. Listen with empathy. Forgive when necessary and set firm boundaries with grace and love. Then leave the rest up to God.