Holding Evil at Bay

Herod Antipas, the king, soon heard about Jesus, because everyone was talking about him. Some were saying, “This must be John the Baptist raised from the dead. That is why he can do such miracles.” 15 Others said, “He’s the prophet Elijah.” Still others said, “He’s a prophet like the other great prophets of the past.”

16 When Herod heard about Jesus, he said, “John, the man I beheaded, has come back from the dead.”

17 For Herod had sent soldiers to arrest and imprison John as a favor to Herodias. She had been his brother Philip’s wife, but Herod had married her. 18 John had been telling Herod, “It is against God’s law for you to marry your brother’s wife.” 19 So Herodias bore a grudge against John and wanted to kill him. But without Herod’s approval she was powerless, 20 for Herod respected John; and knowing that he was a good and holy man, he protected him. Herod was greatly disturbed whenever he talked with John, but even so, he liked to listen to him. – Mark 6:14-20

Yellow Daisy | Austin, Texas | October 2020

We did a breathing test recently at the gym I go to. One part of it had to do with how long you could hold your breath. I managed less than 30 seconds in one test and over a minute in another. How so? Try this: Exhale all the air from your lungs. Don’t breathe back in and see how long you can go before giving into the urge to breathe back in. Less than 30 seconds for me that day. On the other hand, when I filled my lungs with air, I went more than 1 minute before I had to let it out and begin to breathe.

Sometimes the urge to give in is simply too strong. Sometimes we give into the forces of evil and sin around us. Sometimes we can hold Satan and his servants at bay. Sometimes we give in.

It’s not good when we give in. People get hurt. Lives are ruined. Guilt and shame overtake our hearts. Distress and worry block our view. Hope evaporates. All this when we remove the impediments to Satan’s ploys. 

This is what happened between Herod and Herodias. She sought to have John killed. But Herod prevented her from carrying out her scheme. Until that fateful day when Herodias’ daughter danced and delighted Herod and his guests. Until Herodias got the chance to advance her evil intent. Until Herod gave in. John was beheaded. Herod was conflicted. Herodias was happy. The devil danced for joy.

Sometimes our very presence will stand in the way of evil intent. Sometimes a little word will undo the tempter’s power. We can say, “I don’t think that would be a good idea.” We can let people know we won’t be a part of their petty put downs or conniving plans. 

Sometimes our lack of the most basic boundaries of good behavior can let the devil have a foothold. Anger unchecked. Resentment unfettered. Truth skirted. All of these are the devil’s foothold. And as such they can become the nose of the camel under the tent. And evil can have its day.

Thanks be to God there was One who did not let the devil have even an inch. He embodied truth. He loved perfectly. He offers grace, live, and salvation. One Day the fullness of his work will abolish the works of the devil. And evil will come to an end. 

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