I think Mondays have received a bad rap. I really do. Like dentists or the Star Wars prequels.
People ask themselves every week, “How in the world am I going to get through Monday?”
I ask, “What has Monday ever done to you?” Monday has done its best to help us out and alleviate the foreboding sense of doom that comes with the beginning of a new week. Consider the 2017 calendar:
- Monday, January 2nd: New Year’s Day
- Monday, January 16th: Martin Luther King Jr.’s Birthday
- Monday, February 20th: President’s Day
- Monday, May 29th: Memorial Day
- Monday, September 4th: Labor Day
- Monday, October 9th: Columbus Day
- Monday, December 25th: Christmas Day
Every one of these is a federal holiday in which many people receive a paid day off work (yes, even Columbus Day when we celebrate a man refusing to stop to ask for directions). But what do we ungrateful people do at the office the following Tuesday in response to being given the gift of 56 hours – 7 full paid Mondays off? We say stuff like, “Well looks like today’s our Monday this week.” I can see Monday throwing its hands up in resignation as if to say it just can’t win with us ungrateful people.
The Mamas and The Papas sang a song about Monday, irrationally blaming it for a relational breakup. The song begins fine with nice sentiments about Monday, but at the first sign of trouble, Monday gets thrown under the bus for being in the wrong place on the calendar at the wrong time of the week. Consider the bridge:
Every other day / Every other day / Every other day of the week is fine, yeah / But whenever Monday comes / But whenever Monday comes / You can find me crying all of the time
This dude would have us believe Mama left Papa because it was Monday. He indignantly shakes his fist at Monday morning for giving him no warning of what was to be. He feels that he simply can’t trust that day. He’s focused on the circumstances rather than the root of the problem.
I’d love the hear the remix. You know, the version from Mama’s perspective. The one that talks about how Papa was always daydreaming about California and never listened to her when she talked. How he showed little to no gratitude when she prepared him dinner every night. How he would watch TV all evening or go out with his buddies on the weekends rather than spend time with Mama. In short, he ignored her and took her for granted.
- Maybe Papa should have taken the time to say a little prayer of gratitude for Mama each night before he went to bed.
- Maybe instead of going where he wanted to go and doing what he wanted to do, Papa should have asked Mama’s opinion every once in a while.
- Maybe Papa should have been romantic and asked Mama to dance with him in the street or under the moonlight.
Hey Papa, Monday didn’t do you wrong – YOU did you wrong. And you did Mama wrong too.
What has a Monday ever really done to you? All that stuff you hate that happens on Monday is circumstantial. It’s not Monday’s fault you hate your job. It’s not Monday’s fault someone broke up with you on a Monday. It’s not Monday’s fault. In fact, Monday probably needs a counseling session with Sean* from Good Will Hunting (*This is a great scene, but don’t click the link unless you’re prepared to hear the f-bomb a few times).
Monday is not the real enemy.
That’s what Paul told the church at Ephesus. He says in Eph 6:12, “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.”
This verse is smack dab in the middle of the Armor of God passage.
Paul is telling the Ephesians they need to open their eyes and realize that all the issues and struggles they are dealing with are not what they seem on the outside. They all stem from the same root issue: the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
Consider your situation. What are the things you are struggling with right now? Are you having problems with your boss? Are you wondering how the electric bill is going to be paid this month? Are you in a relationship with someone who seems to have gone crazy?
I’ve got news for you: your boss, your bills and your boyfriend are not the real enemy.
Does it feel like a friend or family member is possessed by the way they are treating you all of a sudden? Have you ever stopped to consider that…perhaps they ARE? I’m not talking head-spinning-projectile-vomiting-Linda-Blair possessed. I mean their thoughts have been taken captive by the rulers, the authorities, the powers of this dark world. Could it be that the devil has done what he does best and somehow managed to gain a foothold of deception in their life?
That friend or family member is not the problem.
Paul’s writing to the Ephesians to explain just how imperative it is to be aware of two things.
- The devil is at work in the spiritual realm and is the root cause of just about every problem we face in the earthly realm.
- We already have everything we need to defeat him in Christ Jesus.
Now sometimes a paper-cut is just a paper-cut. If you’ve got dry skin, put on some lotion. But if you are running into an issue with your car, a co-worker or a creditor, you’ve got to look closer than just skin deep because lotion ain’t gonna cut it.
In The Screwtape Letters, a satirical account of an experienced devil mentoring a younger devil in the art of temptation, C.S. Lewis writes, “I do not think you will have much difficulty in keeping the patient in the dark. The fact that ‘devils’ are predominantly comic figures in the modern imagination will help you. If any faint suspicion of your existence begins to arise in his mind, suggest to him a picture of something in red tights, and persuade him that since he cannot believe in that, he therefore cannot believe in you.”
In other words, the senior devil is saying, “Sometimes the best way to do your job is to make sure no one knows you’re doing your job.”
Chirrut from Rogue One: A Star Wars Story was one with the force and the force was with him. Though he was blind, he was able to take on 10 Stormtroopers single-handedly—with flair and panache I might add. We may not have the force guiding us, but we have something even better. The Holy Spirit can show us where the real enemy is. He can no longer hide in the shadow. Call him out and take him to task in the name of Jesus.
Something else the devil wants you to believe is that he’s more powerful than he really is. He may be the ruler of the kingdom of the air as Paul says in Eph 2:2, but God is the Ruler of rulers; the King of kings; the Lord of lords.
Satan may be the opposition of God, but he is not the opposite of God. Satan is not the Ying to God’s Yang. Satan is not God’s equal counterpart to balance the universe. Satan is subordinate to God. Satan must yield to the commands of the Father, every time.
Let’s look a little closer at Eph 2:1-10. I’d be willing to bet the most well-known verses in this passage are 8-9, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is a gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.”
I’ve got more news for you: verses 8-9 are not the main point of this passage.
There is a literary technique used often in Scripture called a chiasm. This is a method of structuring the text in such a way to highlight a certain thought or truth. It looks like this.
In this structure, thoughts A and A’ are parallel (as are thoughts B and B’) and they point to the main thought C as the tip of the arrow or the pivot point.
Now let’s simplify Eph 2:1-10 to see how it fits this model.
2:1-3 We were all dead, performing the works of sin.
2:4-5 God made us alive with Christ by His grace.
2:6-7 God raised us up with Christ and seated us with Him in the heavenly realms.
2:8-9 God made us alive through His gift of grace in Christ.
2:10 We are all alive in Christ, made new to do the work of God.
Do you see how 2:1-3 is a parallel thought to 2:10 and how 2:4-5 is a parallel thought to 2:8-9? That leaves us with 2:6-7 as the centerpiece of this passage. It’s part of the core message to the Ephesians—and us—and needs to be taken to heart.
The real enemy is the devil and his spiritual forces in the heavenly realms. We could never hope to conquer him from our earthly position with our earthly weapons. But because of God’s grace, we are now alive in Christ and seated with Him at the right hand of the Father in the position of victory in the heavenly realms!
In other words, we have everything we need to defeat the devil at our fingertips; we just need to put on the full armor of God and activate it through prayer. (If you want a more in-depth study of Ephesians, check out The Armor of God by Priscilla Shirer…it’s fantastic.)
Notice that a few paragraphs back I began every sentence with the devil’s name. I wonder if that made you uncomfortable reading it over and over again. That unease you may have felt is likened to the feeling invoked by the name Voldemort in the Harry Potter series. Just the sound of his name would send tremors of fear through one’s spine. They would much rather refer to him as “You-Know-Who” or “He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named.”
At the end of the first book in the series (The Sorcerer’s Stone), Harry is recovering in the hospital wing of the school after his first battle with Voldemort, having a conversation with Hogwarts’ headmaster, Albus Dumbledore.
“Sir?” said Harry. “I’ve been thinking…Sir—even if the Stone’s gone, Vol-, I mean, You-Know-Who –“
“Call him Voldemort, Harry. Always use the proper name for things. Fear of a name increases fear of the thing itself.”
As J.K. Rowling aptly points out, intentionally avoiding the devil’s name only gives him a tighter grip on your fear. Naming him puts him in his proper place…which, consequently, is under your foot.
Don’t let the deceiver deceive you into believing he’s anything more than he is. He’s not equal to God. He was an angel, created by God and though he has chosen to stand in opposition toward God, he remains subject to Him. And unlike those wearing the full armor of God, Satan will not be able to stand for long.
Let’s remember who the real enemy is.
Paul didn’t say, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, the against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms…and Mondays.”
Those relational issues you’re dealing with, the financial struggles weighing heavy on your shoulders, the addiction you feel enslaved by—the devil is at the root of them all. Call him out. Put him in his place. Take hold of the freedom and victory that is already ours in Christ Jesus.
In the midst of the chaos, the turmoil, the havoc wreaked by Satan all around, we can experience a Spirit-infused sense of rest and calm in our inner-beings. We have the peace of God because, through Jesus, we have peace with God. Activate that peace in your life through thankful prayer for all He’s done and as Paul encourages us in Phil 4:6-7, the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your heart and your mind in Christ Jesus.