Count Vicegrim’s Letters: Chapter 12 The Infernal Spirit

The Count Vicegrim LettersThe Demon Mudpot’s Annual Review regarding the Temptation of the Patient in His 26th Year

You absolute buffoon,

How many times have I warned you about how crafty the Enemy’s Spirit is? He is crafty and dangerous. Never, ever underestimate him. He is silent, invisible, tireless, and unbending. We have searched for ages for ways to prevent his interference and we are convinced that to this very day he is silently looking into the pits of hell watching our every move.

He is watching me write this letter Mudpot.

You will never surprise him and you will never overpower him. You will never see him or hear him. You will never know what he is doing until he makes his move and now he is moving on you Mudpot!

On to your review.

The Good

Sure you have created cracks in the marriage and are encouraging his relationship with his secretary. But that doesn’t really count if he starts repenting.

I don’t feel like complimenting you today.

The Bad

So, let me get this right. You were relaxed and cocky. You assumed that you had everything under control and that even the Enemy’s Spirit couldn’t stop you from continuing the slow spiral.

Then he moved and you were caught off guard.

You see, it was no accident that the other pastor saw your patient’s web history. It was no accident that he brought it to the Senior Pastor and that they together confronted your patient. Nor was it an accident that they approached with firmness and grace to your patient. Finally, it was no accident that the Enemy’s Spirit moved your patient to repentance on the spot and that he was then moved to discuss his depression and pornography use with his wife.

You were set up by the Enemy’s Spirit.

I told you that pastor was dangerous. He is so attuned to the Enemy that he often moved to do things in coordination with that blasted Spirit. I have put in another request to have him killed but it is expected that the Enemy will block that request yet again.

The only credit I give you in all of this is that he is still hiding his feelings for his secretary and lied to the staff about them. This is a hopeful sign in an otherwise dreadful year.

You see, confession in one area causes humility and that humility can creep throughout your patient’s life into other areas. He may feel like he should confess to his wife that he is fantasizing about other women. That would be a disaster. Don’t let that happen.

So he will be meeting regularly with one of the other pastors for accountability and getting separate counseling. You need to be prepared for this. Both can be dangerous but can be managed with appropriate preparation.

First, you must make him cling to his sin. Remind him of how good it feels and how much he would hate to lose it. Minimize its impact on him.

Second, continuously remind him of the great lies that we have impregnated the broader culture with “Nobody is getting hurt” and “It’s just looking” and “It is none of their business.” Inflame his sense of independence so that he feels no need for other vermin.

Third, encourage little lies to his wife, family, and friend. Even unrelated lies. He needs to have lied recently to others to encourage him to “not tell the whole truth” when it comes time to talk with the other pastor and counselor. Your goal will be to make his sin, “No big deal.” Because you are dealing with someone who went to seminary, it won’t do to simply use common cultural lies. So the Christian Western Culture department has created christian versions of them.

“Judge not lest you be judged” is a wonderful one because it is actually quoting the Enemy’s Book. Sure it’s perverting the meaning, but that makes it all the more satisfying. Make sure that any mention of his sin is “judging” and that anything but praise is “not being accepted.” Another good option is to use the word “legalistic” for anything sinful. We have pushed it to the point that even naming a sin can be “legalistic” and “not about grace.”

One caution about causing your patient pain right now. The Enemy’s Spirit is excellent at taking pain and using it to show your patient that he needs to depend on the Enemy. Suffering is wonderful, but it is also handing our Enemy a weapon to use against us. What you want is complacency and that does not happen when your patient is suffering. Make him comfortable Mudpot, very comfortable.

Finally, be careful as you read these options because you can become overconfident. The Enemy’s Spirit is smarter than you, stronger than you, better informed that you, craftier than you, and he loves to play with us. It is truly sickening.

Be afraid of him.

-Count Vicegrim

Image created by Cavin and used with permission

Advertisements

Porn and the Christian Guy: Part 22, A Tough God

wwjd-whipOne of the myths that we believe today is that God is a bit of a wimp. Since every picture we see of Jesus he has long flowing hair and has a gentle, peaceful expression in his eye, clearly he couldn’t handle himself in a fight. In fact, all he does all day is look thoughtfully into people’s eyes and tell them how much God loves them, right?

Well, not if you read Matthew 23. Jesus walks into church while the pastors are there and publicly says this:

But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. For you neither enter yourselves nor allow those who would enter to go in. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel across sea and land to make a single proselyte, and when he becomes a proselyte, you make him twice as much a child of hell as yourselves. Matthew 23:13-15

Let’s briefly review, he said they were hypocrites, they don’t let people into Heaven, and that they themselves were going to hell. One begins to understand why they were trying to kill him. He says much more in the chapter, but this is a good summary.

Far from being a wimp marching through Palestine telling everyone to be nice to each other, Jesus has a sharp edge to him. Certainly he advocated loving your enemy and turning the other cheek, but not like a wuss would. He did not love peace out of fear but out of courage. He trusted his Father so deeply and loved his enemies so much, he would publicly humiliate them to show them their hearts.

He also loved the crowd too much to let their hypocrisy reign unchecked. There were confused people in this crowd who were following these teachers. They needed to be warned.

One of the most influential works on my view of Jesus is The Visual Bible – The Gospel According to Matthew. Their interpretation of Jesus’ confrontation is here. Bruce Marchiano, who plays Jesus, did the whole scene in one take and when he was done, he walked away and told the director, “He Loved them. It broke his heart because he loved them.”

Far from the macho super independent man of the James Bond films, Jesus was tough because he loved.

Be Honest with God

There is a few important lessons for us in this. First, God is tough enough to take our honest prayers. I think we somehow protect God from our frustrations and anger with him because we think he has a sensitive ego. We don’t want to hurt his feelings so we aren’t honest with him. This is flatly not how Job, Moses, Elijah, David, Jonah, and Jeremiah talked with God. They clearly respected him, but as a Father they knew they could be honest with.

One of my favorite exchanges in all of scripture is Jonah’s complaint to God when he spared Nineveh.

And he prayed to the Lord and said, “O Lord, is not this what I said when I was yet in my country? That is why I made haste to flee to Tarshish; for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relenting from disaster. Therefore now, O Lord, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live.” Jonah 4:2-3

Jonah had a sinful heart and he trusted God enough to be brutally honest with God about how he felt. And notice that despite Jonah’s rank immaturity while he threw a tantrum to the God of the universe, God was patient with him. Even at Jonah’s request, God didn’t kill him.

We need to take a lesson from this. God is trustworthy not simply with our nice feeling, but our mean and selfish ones as well. It is hilarious that we try to hide our faults from an all-knowing God. We are a bit stupid sometimes.

Love Isn’t Always Nice

The second lesson we should take away is that loving people will involve aggressive conflict sometimes. Love is always kind, but it is not always nice. Many times the grace of God to me has been men and women pushing me in not very nice ways. Sometimes they were outright sinning against me. But that did not mean that God was not teaching me something in it.

We need to be much more interested in serving people than in having smooth relationships with them. I fear that I am part of a generation of wimps who are much more interested in being liked by people than loving them. As I watch men grow in their relationship with God, almost universally they become more bold. With that boldness comes conflict. With the conflict will always come the criticism that they have become arrogant.

You see, none of us like to have our sin called out. It is much easier to blame the messenger than to search our hearts. Shooting them down as arrogant or the church word, legalistic, is a lot easier. That is not to say that there aren’t arrogant and legalistic people in the church, but we should first search our hearts to see if they have a point.

Courage Comes from a Relationship with God

Jesus did not have his courage from a vacuum. He was doing “only what he sees the Father doing.” We have the courage and wisdom to know when to confront people by being like God. If we stay close to him, that shields us from arrogance because it is a but silly to stand arrogantly next to God. We also live knowing that he is behind us and if I have his approval, I can deal with your anger.

Correction is Done with Gentleness

It is not enough to simply correct each other. We must do so with gentleness.

And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. 2 Tim 2:24-25a

We are being like our Father when we correct gently and patiently. There are many men out there correcting out of their anger and not out of love. The man who corrects out of love is looking to win his brother, not destroy his brother. The gentle, patient, and firm correction is a trademark of just such a man.

Gentlemen, we serve a tough and wonderful God. Let’s lean heavily on him to give us the courage to not only do the nice thing, but the right thing.

-Chip