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WEEKLY REFLECTIONS

~ 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 Corinthians 6:3a).

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 6:12).

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.

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