Perhaps the most timeless truth of all is the reality of change. Nothing is as constant as change. And I believe that the devil has mastered so well the art and science of change to continuously evolve into new shades and shapes.
Back in the Garden of Eden, he spoke through a snake. But nobody can listen to a snake today except a wizard or the likes. But the fact remains that the devil still speaks and people still listen. The same evil but different medium.
Again, there was a time in our own part of the world when the only thing understood as religion was idolatry, witchcraft, and the likes. And that was the devil plying his trade. But this has become so threatened by the advent of civilization and modernization- so much that it is being pushed towards extinction. I’ll illustrate this with some examples.
In the town where I grew up, the major traditional events that held annually was the Oro festival. At the time I was growing up, Oro normally last for seven days. During this period all females and non indigenes were to remain in-door. In fact, a male indigene who as a result of his age or for other reasons has not been formally “introduced” to Oro must also remain in-door. It was a notorious festival and even travelers knew that. Most drivers would usually avoid passing through the town during this period.
However, with time the seven days became five, and then to three days. Surprisingly, it eventually became an event for a single day. And over that, I was pleasantly surprised when I was told that Oro festival for last year lasted only for four hours. That would have been unimaginable as close as fifteen years ago!
Again, those conversant with the core areas in Nigeria where idolatry is rife would observe the impressive decrease in the number of family shrines standing at the backyards of peoples’ houses. The number of sacrifices being placed at special junctions is also fast decreasing, in relative terms.
So generally, virtually all forms of traditional practices in Nigeria is on the decrease. And why is this so? Is it because Christianity has gained more foot? I don’t think so!
No doubt, Christianity has played its very crucial role, but in this time and age, I don’t think that Christianity is the biggest factor responsible for those changes. Much more, I think the answer lies in civilization and modernization, another subtle invention of the devil. Even if we argue that he didn’t invent them, he has certainly hijacked them.
Basically, most people no longer consider it civilized under any guise to ask people to stay in-door for several days all because of a festival. Similarly, to put a shrine behind one’s house or to be seen with a dress dangling with the skull of lizards, dogs etc is no longer accepted as fashionable. To do that may mean being isolated and criticized by those around.
By and large those practices are dying and I believe that most of them will eventually die. Those that would survive would be practiced by so few and that, so sparingly.
Overall, these changes in my view have more to do with the so called “civilization” and “modernization” than it has to do with Christianity. I still do think that even if we argue that the devil is not the brain behind this “modern civilization”, he has more to do with it than anyone else.
Several decades before now, traditional practices such as witchcraft, idol worshiping, Babalawo and the rest of them were considered by some in the Christendom as one of the greatest forms of sin. Today, these practices are drastically reduced. But does it mean that sin has reduced in proportionate terms? I doubt. In fact, what I do think is that those who live some 200 years ago were more righteous and holier than this generation and are thus more deserving of God’s mercy. It’s worthy of note however, that God’s mercy and grace is usually not given on the basis of merit.
So what happened? And why is this so? I think this is a classical illustration of the devil evolving, a stark exemplification of how the devil has evolved and is still evolving.
The basic thought here is that, idolatry and all forms of traditional practices is no more a sin than all the sin we are familiar with today. Idolatry or fornication is no less a sin that can qualify one for hell. So what the devil has simply done is to invent a whole new array of so many ways/forms of sin to replace the old one which we no longer considered fashionable. He has given this generation what it can identify with and accept as fashionable. This thought is self explanatory, but let me illustrate with a few examples.
Some 200 (or above) years ago, our forefathers didn’t know a thing about masturbation in most cases, and certainly they didn’t know about pornography. In contrast, today, hardly would you find a late teenager who doesn’t know about masturbation and pornography. And this is a statement in itself. This however, doesn’t mean that everybody practices it. But some centuries ago, those age groups (and indeed most people) were not aware of anything like that. They didn’t have the knowledge. They didn’t even know that anything like that exists. So it was simply practically impossible for them to have practiced what they did not know.
Again, never has it become easier for anyone to tell lies than now. You could tell a liar over the phone or with your pen. A lot of creative methods of lying abound today. Lying is simple, but it is no less a sin. I know this because in two separate places, Jesus talked about liars and His remarks were not nice. In Rev 22:15, he classified those who “make a lie” among those who are “outside”. In John 8:44, He didn’t only define the devil as a liar but also the father of it.
Again, never has it become easier, and worse still, more acceptable for a spouse to cheat. It’s becoming a social trend. Not surprisingly, statistics shows that the rate of divorce is at an all time high. Sexual temptations are also at an all time high too. Also, the remorse and sense of guilt and shame that normally comes with such acts is now taken away. Nobody feel really remorseful and ashamed for cheating on a spouse. It’s no longer considered fashionable to do so.
The list of such examples showing how the devil has evolved is indeed inexhaustible. Think about the new age fashion. Think about internet fraud. Think about societal changing value system. Think about so many of such areas. However, it is expedient that I make this last example. And it will be on the devil’s assault on the home.
There was never a time in the past when the home is in such a disarray like it is today. The devil has developed new and efficient strategies to ensure that people fail at home. For instance, to be a humble and submissive wife to the core is no more thought as a fashionable prospect. Rather, more women have become disillusioned with the devil’s campaign on gender equality. I don’t think that God was thinking about gender equality when He took from Adam’s ribs to fashion Eve. Rather, I do think that God was thinking about how best to design Eve so that she can fulfill the specific purpose for which she was created in the life of Adam, which was simply to complement him.
Clearly, I don’t think that the question of equality was an issue in God’s mind. He simply saw that His creation was not complete because He realized that Adam needed a companion and a help. So He decided to make him one. I do think that if people put in all their efforts into fulfilling their respective purposes in the home instead of devoting some to gender equality (In which case I do not understand the basis for determining equality of/in gender seeing that both are so different and unique) there would be more joy in the home, progress in the society and peace in the church.
Furthermore, one of the devil’s assaults on the home is to make a man loose his priorities. In Paul’s assessment of a man, he concluded that a so called “Christian” man is worse than an infidel if he fails to provide for his own home (1 Tim 5:8). The term “to provide” here has been misconstrued to mean making financial provisions. But that is not all there is to that. A man by reason of his divine responsibility is a prophet over his own house and therefore has a duty to be a model in terms of morality and spirituality and also to nurture his own family first, with his time (very important) and material resources. So to define a man’s duty as merely making financial provisions is misleading.
So the devil’s strategy for taking a man out of the equation of the home revolves around making him unfit as a model, morally and spiritually, as well as making him un able to nurture his family, especially with his time. That is why there are so many issues attacking the moral and spiritual conscience of people. That is why there are too many things calling for attention and taking people away from the home.
Conclusively, I think the devil has evolved and he is still evolving, discarding sins that are underperforming and introducing new and more effective ones. I sometimes think of the devil as an astute business man. He is certainly on top of his game in this end time.
Unfortunately, many of us have not yet evolved. And I think it is time for us to consciously work out our salvation (Phil 2:12) and to guide it jealously. To do this, we need to always be on guard and be in knowledge of his devices lest he takes advantage of us (2 Corinth 2:11). And prepare to battle. Our victory in Christ is sure!
May God keep us all unto the day of His Appearing!
This article was first published in July 2016.