~ Messengers of Hell ~
"Angel" means "messenger," and there are many kinds.
Though we don't think of them as such, they are the servants of humans. "Are
not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?"
(Hebrews 1:14). In a good way, angels loyal to God may well be envious of
us. God the Father incarnated into the Son in human form, sent us the Holy
Spirit to live in us, gave us the sacraments of powerful grace (such as eating
and drinking Christ's body and blood in the elements of bread and wine),
and the remarkable elevation of human status to which St. Paul refers with
his rhetorical question, "Do you not know that we will judge angels?" (1
Judging angels is not a task we think we can do nor of which we are worthy.
Yet this task is not merely prophetic, but is our mandate today, while on
earth. One third of the angels are messengers of lies. "Devil" means "deceiver"
and Jesus told the Jewish religious leaders, "You belong to your father,
the devil, and you want to carry out your father's desire. He was a murderer
from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him.
When he lies, he speaks his native language for he is a liar and the father
of lies" (John 8:44).
Lies and false testimony are equivalent to murder. Governments, institutions,
and individuals artfully use lies to control others and murder their reputations,
livelihoods and freedom. Lies and false testimony are among the most powerful
weapons, especially when a little truth is mixed in as a hook. Proclaim a
series of truths and you'll have people nodding in affirmation. Begin to
switch into the falsehoods, and the people will still keep nodding. Most
people do not exercise the critical analysis needed to discern truth from
lie. And so, "Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising,
then, if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness" (2 Corinthians
11:14-15a). A daunting task indeed is to ferret out of truth the imbedded
lies, particularly when faced with the ludicrous relativism of "Your truth
may not be my truth."
If you lie or bear false witness against another for personal gain, Jesus
proclaims your father to be Satan, even though you masquerade as a witness
or champion of righteousness. This makes you an angel, a messenger, of Satan,
to his delight. Your satanic father will favor you, reward you, and enable
you to continue this masquerade in his name. And you may delight in that,
for such attention is very rewarding and satisfying to the ego and human
pride, especially when Satan clothes you in apparent righteousness. You're
looking good to the world, believable and honorable, even courageous for
"speaking the truth."
"Satan" in Hebrew means "accuser." He and his messengers accuse our brothers
and sisters "before God day and night" (Revelation 12:10b). But "they overcame
him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony" (Revelation
12:11a). The Christ proclaimed Himself to be "The Truth" and so "the blood
of the Lamb" is essential to the proclamation of truth and the exposure of
lies. We, however, are also called to testify. In a court of law, we affirm
that our testimony is "the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth,
so help me God." In our courts, those who take this oath seriously (and most
don't) may well be tempted to respond, "I will if you let me." But imbedded
in that oath is a prayer for God's help, for the proclamation of truth can
only come through God, as He is Father of Truth. To testify to the truth
is to be a messenger of Christ, and people who speak the truth do so through
Him whether they are Christian or not. Whether in court, in the media, in
churches, in universities, in prisons, in nations hostile to truth and fearful
of self-reflection and repentance, testifying to the truth takes courage.
"They did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death [a consequence
of truth-telling]" (Revelation 12:11b).
"Therefore rejoice, you heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to the
earth and the sea, because the devil has gone down to you! He is filled with
fury, because he knows that his time is short" (Revelation 12:12). I think
his fury also has something to do with what I mentioned in the beginning.
How dare God proclaim that mere humans will judge his angels! Satan's pride,
his downfall, along with a third of the angels (billions and billions), cannot
accept this humiliation. So his proclamation of war on the human race is
understandable. "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against
the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world
and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms" (Ephesians
Paul wrote to the church at Corinth, "I fear that there may be quarreling,
jealousy, outburts of anger, factions, slander, gossip, arrogance and disorder"
(2 Corinthians 12:20b). What Paul fears are the messages of the devil, and
that Christians are participating in disseminating them. Some sins are easy
and popular among preachers to condemn from their pulpits and radio mikes,
such as adultery, homosexuality, vanity and envy. Let's hear more about lies,
false testimony, gossip, slander, jealousy, and quarreling, since these are
the sins Christ labeled as murder. These are the signatures of the devil.
These are most easily clothed in the presentation of righteousness. These
are far more destructive than the popularly condemned sins.
Roman Governor Pontius Pilate asked Jesus, "What is truth?" Jesus didn't
answer verbally, for truth was standing before the governor. Pilate gazed
at the Christ and I believe he "got it." He tried hard to change Jesus' fate,
but succumbed to the tremendous political pressures on him, and signed His
death warrant. Joining the testimony of the messengers from hell has its
appeal and rewards. Those that do become angels in the army of hell. Those
that don't become the saints who are crucial in casting away the messengers
from hell from the presence of Christ, that presence which is all His people,
who testify to the truth, the Christ Himself.
John S. Hilkevich, Ph.D.
Spiritual Resource Services
~ Education, Research and Advocacy
in the Christian Faith ~
Spiritual Resource Services © July 14, 2005
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