A Deal with the Devil
In 1808 Johann Wolfgang von Goethe published a closet drama entitled “Faust: The Tragedy Part One”. In this story, Dr. Johann Faust is approached by one of the devil’s henchmen, Mephistopheles, and is offered twenty-four years of life with Mephistopheles as his servant, if upon his death he will serve the demon. Faust agrees, and experiments with all sorts of evil and exploration of new knowledge, utilizing the demonic power at his disposal. Sadly, Dr. Faust discovers that all he desires can cause heartache, even in this life, and as you might expect tries to rescind the bargain upon its completion. While this story is obviously a fictitious folktale, in reality it is acted out millions of times each day as people despise their spiritual birthright for fame, fortune, fun or whatever “mess of pottage” society leads them to overvalue (Gen. 25:34; Heb.12: 6-17).
Thirty years ago, I became acquainted with one of the most spiritually active couples I have ever known. When someone was sick, they were there. If someone needed help, they provided all that was within their power to meet the need. They never missed a service of the saints where they were members and many nights attended gospel meetings elsewhere to encourage brethren in other congregations. Their constant topic of conversation was God’s Word and service to his people. Hundreds were encouraged and strengthened by their labors over the time that I knew them. Perhaps the most amazing aspect of their service was that they were in their eighties at the time.
One day I commented to some friends we had in common, that it was a pity they had no children. I was quickly corrected and told that they had several. The sad story that unfolded was that although they were Christians when they married years ago, they soon became unfaithful in the Lord’s service. Pursuit of a career, community activities, and other things, most of which were not wrong within themselves, occupied their busy lives for twenty-five years. At the end of that time, they reexamined their neglected faith and through repentance were converted to the spiritual stalwarts that I knew. They were in middle age even stronger than they were before. The primary casualty of these years of unfaithfulness, however, was the souls of their children, who grew up untaught and without the example of godly parents.
I do not believe that in their youth the devil visited my friends and offered them twenty-five years of pleasure and success if they would sacrifice their children. If Satan’s temptation were so overt they would never have agreed to such a bargain. Yet as surely as if they had sat at their kitchen table and signed in blood their children’s precious souls over to the devil, their lives lived out just such a tragedy.
Have you made a contract with the devil? We are told in 1 Peter 5:8 that the devil “prowls about like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” But frankly, he is just as pleased to get your children in his clutches. Are you helping him in that effort? Unless you enthusiastically participate in all the worship services of the saints, you may be! Unless you study and discuss the Scriptures eagerly and encourage your children to do so, you may be! Unless you are obviously a man or woman of prayer, showing your family that you truly believe God is real, you may be! Unless your life exhibits that “Christ lives” in you (Gal. 2:20) in all areas of your life, and openly seek his forgiveness and theirs when you fail, you may be!
The devil is not only a lion but is also a traveling salesman peddling his wares for just a little more than you want to pay. He offers wonderful credit terms, which can be settled later. Satan’s loans, though, can never be amortized in this life but by the blood of Jesus Christ (1 Pet. 1:18-19). Remember, your soul is your most valuable possession and I am sure that those of your children are as valuable to you as your own. In Matthew 16:26 Jesus warns “what will a man be profited if he gains the whole world, and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” Satan is aggressively in the market for souls. Seller beware!