Sin, death, and Satan don't just twist and pervert our hearts. They break them. Sin, death, and Satan are cruel and ruthless, but also subtle. Until they're not. Sin offers its sugar-coated lies to us so that we don't see what's coming until it's too late for us to undo the damage. Death breaks our hearts because the struggle with temptation is real and the consequences of death are concrete and real.
Once the forces of sin, death, and Satan charge at us, the battle is on. They launch a three-pronged attack against us. Their weapons are tipped with venom that inflicts impatience, false humility, and hopelessness on its victims. They don't just want a victory, they want to annihilate us: body, soul, and mind. They want nothing of us left for God to claim or redeem for himself.
That's why the most dangerous people are the ones who have never known war but believe they're the best trained, and best equipped, to lead us to victory over the unholy trinity. They volunteer their opinions about sin, offer pious platitudes about death, and treat Satan like he's a child's bogeyman. They talk about themselves, their skirmishes with temptation, how they overcame, and what sacrifices other sinners need to make to prove their repentance is genuine and God-pleasing.
We get so caught up in fear and panic that we ignore God's Word and prayer.
These people are quick to judge others and enjoy offering high-minded opinions about sin, death, and Satan. They're quick to condemn but achingly slow to forgive. They want to enjoy all the benefits American Christianity offers, but when sin, death, and Satan attack, they come up with excuses for why they weren't there, shoulder to shoulder, fighting with, and defending their brothers and sisters in Christ from the assaults of sin, death, and Satan.
What a person quickly realizes when sin, death, and Satan attack in concrete reality is how inadequate and ill-equipped they are to fight them off. When our children are stricken with a disease we quickly turn to doctors and specialists (and we should, since they are gifts God has given us, through whom he works to care for us). We beg them to heal our babies. But, we get so caught up in fear and panic that we ignore God's Word and prayer.
When a marriage disintegrates, fingers are pointed, words that can't be unsaid are spoken, and two peoples' most intimate moments are used to destroy each other. But, where is the recognition that this is one for whom Christ Jesus died on a cross? Where are grace and forgiveness?
When sin, death, and Satan attack we are put in an Alamo kind of position.
When mom or dad is diagnosed with dementia, how often do we blame God? While we mourn their death for the two, five, or twelve years that they're in memory care, how quick do we forget they're baptized, promised resurrection to new life, and a seat at the wedding feast of the Lamb that has no end?
When sin, death, and Satan attack we are put in an Alamo kind of position. Every day as a Christian is our last stand against the unholy trinity, and the outcome is inevitable. We will be overrun. There will be no survivors. But, that's why we don't lie to ourselves about our ability to fight sin, death, and Satan. As Dr. Luther wrote in The Bondage of the Will, one demon is more powerful than the strength of all men on earth combined.
We don't fight sin, death, and Satan. We don't have to carry that burden. Instead, as the Amidah (the second benediction of the eighteen benedictions that expresses the faith of Israel) confesses about our Savior God:
“You are a heroic Warrior who brings down the mighty; you are the Strong One who judges those who work violence; you are the Eternal and Living One who causes the dead to rise up, who causes the wind to blow and the rain to fall, who cares for the living and makes the dead alive. May help spring up for us in a blink of an eye. Praise be to you, O LORD, who makes the dead alive.”
We can't be defeated by sin, death, and Satan. Not only has God's Word, Jesus the Christ, overcome sin, death, and Satan in his bloody suffering and death, he's promised us that violence and death cannot separate us from God's love for us.
We feast amidst our enemies because even death must bow to our victorious Savior, who will never leave us or forsake us.
So we hold fast to God's Word, Jesus Christ. He is our sword and shield, and a fortress whose wall no army can breach. He's already gone out to wage war against sin, death, and Satan for us, and after a three-day battle, he arose victoriously.
That is why, now, in the power of his resurrection, we sit, eat, and drink, while sin, death, and Satan rage and roar against us. We feast amidst our enemies because even death must bow to our victorious Savior, who will never leave us or forsake us.