Although it is nowhere near my favourite Star Wars installation I love the name of the devil-like villain in Episode 1 The Phantom Menace.   He is red and black and even has horns.  

Of course the devil doesn’t really look like that, nor does he carry a pitchfork, but the phantom menace he is.  I cannot even think of a better description than that for our adversary the Devil.  It’s quite perfect.  Like a phantom he cannot be seen and he is the menace at the centre of all mankind’s ills.  I think the greatest strategy of the devil is to try to convince people that he doesn’t exist in the first place.  In Canada 82% still believe in God but only 34% believe in a literal devil.  That is a major disconnect.  If people do not accept the existence of the Devil, then God is going to get a lot of blame for things He hasn’t done.  The insurance companies have been doing it for years.  What do they call a catastrophe?  An act of God.   

I am surprised that so many cannot accept the possibility that a real devil is loose on the earth.  If there is no devil, how do you explain Hitler or Pol Pot or Joesph Stalin who all were responsible for killing millions?  How do you explain the current genocides in Rwanda, Darfur and Somalia where the killing is done face to face, neighbour against neighbour.  If the human heart is that dark, then there is no hope of the human race. 

Just before the betrayal of Jesus the scripture says, And Satan entered Judas.  To me that little verse speaks volumes about the real problem with the human condition.  Too many of us are willing pawns of the Phantom Menace.   A little lust, a little pride, a little greed goes a long way once it takes root in the heart of man.  Think about it, if he can get spouses blaming each other for the strife he stirred up in their relationship maybe he can end the marriage.  If he can implant greed into the heart of big business it is just a matter of time before entire nations can collapse economically.  If he can get people groups to hate each other enough to kill each other, then he can just sit back and watch the carnage. 

One would think that a creature like Satan would want the publicity for himself but maybe he is too smart to let his own pride ruin his guise.  If people figure out who it is that is behind their problems, he loses much of his effectiveness. 

Deception has always been the most deadly weapon in Satan’s arsenal.  The bible teaches us to try to recognise when it is the devil that is at work.   1 Peter 5:8 & 9 says,  Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.  Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world.  The devil shouldn’t scare any of us.  He really only has as much power as we give him.  People do almost all of his dirty work.  If we begin to recognise when he is at work, especially in us, we just need to refuse to cooperate.  As strange as this sounds, our world would be a much better place if more people just believed in the devil!