Fear is a powerful thing. It paralyzes us. It makes us afraid to be ourselves, to do the right thing, and to stand up for what we believe. Fear of people prevents us from doing anything that others might disagree with, and it also keeps us from serving God and pleasing Him. I will admit that I struggle with this almost every single day, and this struggle has even caused the delay of sharing what I am about to share with you now.
Why am I afraid of sharing this? I am afraid, because I am going to share about fearing Satan. He is not a pleasant subject to talk about, and many people get upset when people talk about him. Many people, including some who claim to be Christians, do not believe that he exists. This is unfortunate, because he would want us to think that. He would want us to think that there is no consequence for our actions, and that we do not need a Savior. He is a liar. Jesus tells us that Satan is the father of all lies (John 8:44). He lies to me, telling me, “Who are you to talk about me? What knowledge or degree do you have to support your claims? Will anyone actually believe you? They will think you are crazy. You should not talk about me, because it will make others feel uncomfortable.”
But these lies are excuses not share what God has placed on my heart. It’s true I don’t have a seminary degree yet. I haven’t even started classes at this point, but a seminary degree is not required to find and speak the truth. God has given us the truth in His Word. Will anyone believe me? Will they think I am crazy? Will it make them uncomfortable? The truth is that some will not believe me; some will think that I am crazy, and it will probably make a lot of people uncomfortable. But, who am I serving? I take great comfort in Galatians 1:10. Paul writes, “For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.” I am reminded that God is the only one that I should seek to please, and that if He has placed this on my heart to share then I should do so regardless of the consequences. With that off my chest, I will now explain how this got started.
About a month ago, a friend discovered that I was accepted into seminary and would be starting my first semester in August. The friend was very happy for me but also warned me saying, “You might meet Satan in seminary.” He wasn’t trying to scare me. Having gone through seminary himself, he was just trying to warn me that spiritual difficulties are common for students in seminary. “If Satan can get you out of seminary, he will try. He does not want you to go into the ministry that God has planned for you.”
To be honest, I was a little freaked out by the comment. I appreciate it now that I know it’s a possibility, but it’s still a scary thought. I do not think he meant that I would literally meet Satan, but that life challenges and spiritual attacks would arise more frequently than they had before.
I’m not unfamiliar with spiritual attacks. I have had some experiences where I have felt an evil presence in my room late at night, and I have several friends who have had far worse experiences. The thought of this intensifying was rather scary to hear. As far back as my childhood, I did not like talking about or even saying the word, Satan. As a kid I used to think bad things would happen by just by saying “Satan” out loud. (I’m talking about the simple usage of the word, Satan, in a sentence. I am not advocating Satanic chanting or worshiping of any kind.) I would gloss over any mention of him in the Bible. If I didn’t think about it then maybe I wouldn’t have to deal with the fact that he exists. And then I realized that I was giving him power that he didn’t have. The name of Satan has no power in it. That’s all it is, a word.
How did God reveal the truth of this fear of mine? Harry Potter. I know you’re skeptical. I’m not saying Harry Potter is biblical or a Christian book…it’s not, but I do believe that God uses common everyday things to teach His children.
Not long after my discussion with my friend about seminary, I finally watched Harry Potter and Deathly Hallows Part 2. (Yes, I realize it has taken me two years to see this movie.) Anyway, there is a scene in the movie right before the battle of Hogwarts where Professor Flitwick tells Professor McGonagall, “You do realize that we can’t keep out You-Know-Who indefinitely,” to which she replies, “That doesn’t mean we can’t delay him. And his name is Voldemort, so you might as well use it. He’s going to try and kill you either way.”
That helped me to realize, I feared saying Satan’s name the same way all the characters feared saying Voldemort’s name. If you aren’t familiar with the books or the films, the main villain, Voldemort, is never called by his real name. He is usually referred to as ‘He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named’ or ‘You-Know-Who’ by most of the characters simply out of fear. In the first book, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Harry having grown up in the muggle world (non-magical world) does not understand why everyone refuses to use Voldemort’s name. Professor Dumbledore instructs him by saying, “Always use the proper name for things. Fear of a name increases fear of the thing itself.” (Rowling, 1992, p: 298). In essence, the other characters were giving Voldemort more power than he actually had by elevating his name as something to be feared.
I’m not a Harry Potter expert, so I apologize if I say anything inaccurate about the Harry Potter universe, but I came across the fact that in the books Voldemort’s name had a taboo spell placed on it. The spell made it so that Voldemort would know the location of whoever spoke his name, thus jeopardizing their safety. This is exactly what I was afraid of if I said Satan’s name out loud, and you know what…he already knows where I am. How else has he been telling me lies my whole life? This is nothing new, and it doesn’t give his name an ounce of power.
The name of Jesus, on the other hand, is the most powerful name of all, and it should be feared. This fear is different though. It’s not fear of being attacked spiritually, or fearing that God will smite you. It’s a respect and awe of the one true God who has already defeated Satan.
The fact that we carelessly throw Jesus’ name around all the time is a bit of a shame. I’m not saying we shouldn’t say Jesus. We should! We should proclaim His name from the mountain tops! We should praise it any chance we get! But His name is sacred and holy, and we use it as a curse of frustration. We slap it on bumper stickers to reprimand tailgaters that we disapprove of their driving habits and on t-shirts to proclaim that He’s our homeboy. (I’ll admit, the bumper sticker that says, “Do you follow Jesus this closely?” is pretty funny.) The bumper stickers and t-shirts aren’t necessarily bad or wrong. It is important to follow Jesus closely and to have an intimate relationship with Him. I just wonder if using His great name in these ways, causes us to forget that there is real power in the name of Jesus Christ.
The name of Jesus has power to cast out demons, heal the sick, and perform miracles, and those that believe in Jesus can do great things in His name: “Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.” (John 14:12-14) Jesus gives us the ability to come to Him with any God-glorifying request in expectation that it will be done.
The name of Jesus is the name of the almighty eternal God who has us securely in His hands: “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.” (John 10:27-30)
The name of Jesus is the name of the perfect and blameless God that humbled Himself to die on a cross for us sinners who would mock Him and turn our backs on Him, “She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21)
Finally, Paul tells us in Philippians 2 that, “Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (vs 9-11). There is no higher name than that of Jesus!
There is no reason to fear Satan or even the word, Satan, because Jesus has already defeated Satan, and the name of Jesus is the name above all names! Praise God! Praise Jesus! He has the sweetest name of all!
So what if I feel an evil presence in my room late at night again? Or what if it gets worse like the experiences that my friends have described? Or what if my life becomes so difficult? Turn to the Name above all names, the name of Jesus. In those moments when I am scared, I say out loud into the darkness, “In the name of Jesus Christ, leave me alone!” And then the presence leaves. My friends have done this as well as prayed out loud to God, and they have experienced similar relief. Evil cannot withstand the power of Jesus Christ. He is our only hope. I turn to Jesus, and take comfort in the presence of the Holy Spirit. Praise the God of our salvation! Praise Jesus!
“Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” James 4:7