When the Devil Looks Like an Angel

cup.jpgJohn Newton, author of the hymn "Amazing Grace," reflected upon the work of the devil in one of his letters to his friend "Captain Clunie."   I read these words this morning from a letter dated October 19, 1766 from Letters of John Newton:

 
. . . and he is never more a devil than when he looks most like an angel.  Let us beware of him; for many wise have been deceived, and many strong have been cast down by him.

 
Now perhaps Newton is thinking of 2 Corinthians 11:14 ("And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light.")  In Newton’s letter, he reflects upon the work of the devil and in the discussion makes this statement, "He will let people talk about grace as much as they please, and commend them for it, provided talking will satisfy them."

 
I am curious.  In your experience, when have you seen the devil look most like an angel?   

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10 thoughts on “When the Devil Looks Like an Angel

  1. I think Newton hit the nail on the head when he finished with: "provided talking will satisfy them." It is when we are content with the words of the Gospel instead of the power, hands and feet of it that Satan has his desired effect of a mediocre response to the gospel instead of the transformation Jesus was sent to bring.

  2. When the devil is draped in the clothes of a voice that is calling…"take care of yourself, you deserve this."  So much of our struggle is wrapped up in the thinking that we deserve…money/power/sex/loyalty/attention etc.  And often the voice that calls that out to us is one inside that masquerades as "self care."  Who can argue with that…
    Interesting that the voice rarely says, "take care of your self by spending time with the Father.  Come to the quiet. Be Still. Hear His Voice."
     

  3. I’ve seen the devil look like an angel most in the face of a few church leaders I’ve known. Sweet, welcoming delightful people who charm people into following them, only to heap performance expectation and rules on the already-burdened backs of their people. They communicate "you’re not good enough", "try harder" and "give more" instead of grace and truth. 

  4. I think he looks most like an angel when he seems to have "our best interests at heart."
    But our best interests in reality may be our destruction.
    -Wendy

  5. Wendy,I like the way you put this.  "Our best interests at heart"—which immediately has our attention though the consequences may be severe. 

  6. Arlene,This is very good.  You are right, we so often think we deserve or we are entitled to whatever seems so promising.And how important to distinguish between what often passes for self-care (doing what I want to do to feel the way I want to feel) and what is authentic self-care (understanding that my entire being is under the Lordship of Jesus and is to be care for under his rule). 

  7. Liam,I really like the way you expressed this:when we are content with the words of the Gospel instead of the power,
    hands and feet of it that Satan has his desired effect of a mediocre
    response to the gospel instead of the transformation Jesus was sent to
    bring.
    Content with words so that the effect is mediocrity instead of transformation.Very good. 

  8. To me It is sobering to watch the devil use his chameleon like ability to be present but unnoticed every time I attempt something for good. He is there but unnoticeable until it happens – the good is turned into something evil. Growing in knowledge of God and His word becomes impatience with those who have not yet learned. Giving a special financial gift to a need turns into pride. Overcoming a familiar temptation creates impatience with others who continue to sin. "When I want to do good, evil is right there with me."

  9. Mark,You said this very well.  I think many of us can identify with what you said regarding the devil being nearby when there is an opportunity to turn good into evil.  Thanks very much.