No curse can touch Jacob; no magic has any power against Israel. -Numbers 23:23
“I saw Satan fall from heaven like lightning!”-Jesus (Lk 10:18)
“Laugh at the Enemy” – Martin Luther
Every October 31st, I am reminded to laugh, throw a party, eat too many goodies all in the light of the goodness of the gospel of Jesus that triumphed over devils, dourness and dobetterism.
It’s the time of year that I come to the realization that too many Christians still live under the law. I see it clearly in the way people start getting the jitters, begin judging or feel compelled to justify themselves during Halloween. Christians hiding their love of spooky things, the constant rebranding of everything that has a hint of frivolity and Frankenstein. The constant plungering of churchianity as it frantically seeks to unclog our culture of anything it perceives to be too worldly or wicked.
There’s an underpinning of anxiety and overtheshoulderism that haunts people who are living lives under the all seeing Eye of Sauron instead of the glorious grace of Christ. They are frightened by people without and people within the church having been whackamoled into submission to false ideas of sanctification and God honoring. They are less witnesses of the good news of Jesus and more testimonies of the terrors of hyper-fundi religiosity.
It’s a fascinating time to observe the conflicted and the condemning nature of so much of evangelicalism. This amazes me, in light of the fact that the reformation produced evangelicalism and that reform struck a pretty hefty blow to boogieman of superstition, man-pleasing and suffocating legalism. How could the sons and daughters of the likes of reformers like Martin Luther become so thin-skinned, pensively paranoid and hyper-guilty? When did bold and courageous freedom get exchanged for knee-jerk judgmentalism, persnickety piousness and cranky christianity?
One thing that Luther surely helped restore was the gift of satire and laughter to an institution that had grown so pompous and exalted in it’s own eyes, that it took a jolly, jesting, farting Monk to poke holes in its inflated ego. Luther’s antics, extremes and scathing hilarity helped dethrone saintly sourpussness and helped spring saints from their prisons of dead religious tradition and the heat lamp of breathless self-examination and self-loathing.
Martin Luther said: “A poor man, entangled in sin, death and hell, can not hear anything more comforting than this precious, dear message of Christ. His heart must laugh deeply and become joyful about it…Sadness is hereditary to us, and the devil is the spirit of sadness, but God is the spirit of joy, who saves us.”
One of the main things that should be celebrated by those who have discovered the gospel is the joy of the defeat of Satan. Believers can be bold in their laughter, because Christ has set us free from the fear of death and evil!
“Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil— and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.” -Hebrews 2:14-15
We have nothing to fear! Not the devil, Hell, Judgment for our sins or the tribunal of other people’s religious troubles, trifles and tantrums. Christ triumphed over all of them and set us free to live lives full of righteous liberty, festival and frivolity as only people set free from sin and death can.
“And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, 14 by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. 15 He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them through the cross.” –Colossians 2:13-15
Evangelicals always seem to have to find a reason to justify having fun, as if God is not the author of laughter, giggles and the creator of all our toe-tingling endorphin pleasures. At the root of the problem is we don’t truly believe the gospel. We believe we are saved by what we do or don’t do or ‘how well’ we do it. We claim Jesus is Lord of heaven and earth and that according to Jesus “the prince of this world was cast out” (Jn. 12:31) but then live in superstitious fear and missional anxiety about days, foods and a host of other things.
Colossians 2: 16,20-21: “So don’t let anyone stand in judgment over you and dictate what you should eat or drink, what festivals you should celebrate, or how you should observe a new moon or Sabbath days…You have died with Christ, and he has set you free from the spiritual powers of this world. So why do you keep on following the rules of the world, such as, “Don’t handle! Don’t taste! Don’t touch!”?
To sum it up, Christ has set us free from the hamster wheel of trying to gain acceptance with God by being good enough or not bad enough. We have died to that way of life and have been born again into an abundant life of pardon, piety and pleasure!
“…if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!” -Galatians 2:21
Such a path leads not to ungodliness but to Godwardness that produces people consumed with the wonders of Christ not swamp of self-introspection of brother bashing.
But unfortunately not everyone really understands the ‘good news’ of the gospel and many are still living in the shadows of a great deliverance, thinking they are still slaves to religious systems, the hammer of a distorted sin consciousness and fear of devils, destinies and diets!
1 Corinthians 8:4-7: “So, what about eating meat that has been offered to idols? Well, we all know that an idol is not really a god and that there is only one God. There may be so-called gods both in heaven and on earth, and some people actually worship many gods and many lords.
But for us: There is one God, the Father, by whom all things were created, and for whom we live. And there is one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things were created, and through whom we live. 7 However, not all believers know this.
Luther said: “Laugh at the enemy and find someone to whom you can talk… or drink more, or make a joke, some merriment or any other joyful thing. Sometimes one must drink more, play, make merriment and even risk a sin during all this, in order to show abhorrence and disdain to the devil, so that he is not given any opportunity to make a thing of conscience out of small matters…If only I had something like an obvious sin, just in order to annoy the devil, so that he realizes that I do not recognize, and am not conscious of, any sin!”
I know that reading that paragraph almost seemed sacrilegious to some still in the grip of the law and under the heel of a religious spirit that has them pinned to the ground in fear of fragile faith. They still think they are their own saviors and that their right standing with God is based on their own works instead of the grace of God. They think freedom is a licence to sin, which in reality just exposes the false front of righteousness that hides their own lurking lusts inside. The law exposes and punishes sin, it doesn’t liberate or loose you from it. Often those who wail the loudest against sin or the dangers of it are the one’s in it’s grip the most. They see evil all around because their religious mindset is rooted in justification by performance and pacification of other people’s courts of conscience instead of the mercy and love of God.
“Don’t let anyone condemn you by insisting on pious self-denial or the worship of angels, saying they have had visions about these things. Their sinful minds have made them proud, and they are not connected to Christ, the head of the body. For he holds the whole body together with its joints and ligaments, and it grows as God nourishes it.” –Colossians 2:18-19
Paul goes on to discuss how to navigate people and their issues, their lack of knowledge about the full freedom of the gospel and how to know what to ‘keep to yourself and God” and what to refuse to ever submit to for the gospel’s sake. (Romans 14:9-10,14,22-23, 1 Corinthians 8:9-12 and Galatians 2:5).
We are called to love other people because love is higher than law, but true love, does it’s best to help others understand the beauty and benefit of the Gospel of Jesus. That means love might look outrageously obnoxious at times for the sake of the truth. It means freedom may call on you to laugh at the very things that pretend to exert such terror among us. Love may trespass where others cringe in perpetual deference to everyone else’s neurotic religiosity.
So this Halloween, let’s dare to laugh at the devil and all his lies. Let the celebration of Christ and His glorious gospel drown out all the barking, clucking and snorting of those who seem to be heralds of humorless holiness and the joyless Jesus of dogooderism.
“If you are moody, you shall remember that the Father now smiles at you.” -Martin Luther
Now go throw the best Halloween or Holywhatchamacallit party your pagan or pious friends have ever experienced and do it all for the glory of God!