Stage Six: The Forces of Antagonism


Stage Five, then, was the first action. And now, Stage Six is the first reaction…


Reality suddenly violates the CORE CHARACTER’S expectation. Instead of getting a helpful reaction from his world, the protagonist finds that antagonistic forces very different from and more powerful than he anticipated rise up to block the protagonist’s efforts. A gap cracks open between what he subjectively thought would happen and what objectively does happen. This unforeseen reaction knocks him back even farther from his goal

Storynomics, By Robert McKee and Tom Gerace

When a character’s world suddenly reacts differently and/or more powerfully than he imagined, this violation of expectation delivers a jolt of surprise, followed by a rush of insight. The clash between what he thinks will happen and the result he actually gets jolts him and splits open his reality. The character stares, as it were, into the gap between his subjective anticipation and its objective result. Then with a rush of insight, he suddenly glimpses how his world actually works; how its unforeseen forces of antagonism now block his path. 

The phrase forces of antagonism does not necessarily name a villain, per se. Villains inhabit certain genres, and in his proper place an archvillain, such as the Terminator, can be a wonderful antagonist. Rather, forces of antagonism simply refers to the various negative obstacles that arise out of any conflict, corporeal or situational. 

Storynomics, By Robert McKee and Tom Gerace

As we began to think about this stage in the Christian story, we soon recognized how once again we had to recognize the story in the Bible is a story of God and humanity.

You see, there is a difference between the nature of the two. While McKee’s description fits well with the human experience, it doesn’t fit with the experience your God would have, since he knows all and cannot be surprised.

So now let’s consider what may fit as the first reaction, although again, we know if we are missing something, you’ll know it.

What if the first reaction was the story of the first murder?


Genesis 4

Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, saying, “I have gotten a man with the help of the Lord.” And again, she bore his brother Abel. Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, and Cain a worker of the ground.In the course of time Cain brought to the Lord an offering of the fruit of the ground, and Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat portions. And the Lord had regard for Abel and his offering, but for Cain and his offering he had no regard. So Cain was very angry, and his face fell. The Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is contrary to you, but you must rule over it.”

Cain spoke to Abel his brother. And when they were in the field, Cain rose up against his brother Abel and killed him. Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” He said, “I do not know; am I my brother’s keeper?” 10 And the Lord said, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to me from the ground. 11 And now you are cursed from the ground, which has opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. 12 When you work the ground, it shall no longer yield to you its strength. You shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth.” 13 Cain said to the Lord, “My punishment is greater than I can bear. 14 Behold, you have driven me today away from the ground, and from your face I shall be hidden. I shall be a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me.” 15 Then the Lord said to him, “Not so! If anyone kills Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold.” And the Lord put a mark on Cain, lest any who found him should attack him. 16 Then Cain went away from the presence of the Lord and settled in the land of Nod, east of Eden.


That was a loyal love/betrayal story to the max. So maybe it does fit.

But again, we’re just wondering.

Yet, this insight from McKee did catch our attention…


To create a meaningful emotional experience for his audience, the storyteller evicts all empty moments, all trivialities and banalities, and embraces those events, and only those events, that bring value-charged change. 

Storynomics, By Robert McKee and Tom Gerace

And then Paula showed us something else which seems to fit with what goes on in Stage Six…


The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the Lord regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart.

Genesis 6:5-6


And here is something she showed us in relation to that passage…


Having made human beings in his image, God sees the first man and woman disobey the first command, and the first human child commit the first murder. Within a short space of time ‘the world was filled with violence’. God ‘saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth’. We then read one of the most searing sentences in religious literature. ‘God regretted that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain’ (Gen. 6:6). 

Jonathan Sacks, Not in God’s Name: Confronting Religious Violence

And here is also what one of your scholars wrote about it…


Moses is not content to portray sin’s sway by dissecting man’s rotten heart. He also gives a staggering disclosure of God’s broken heart. Using emotionally charged vocabulary, he depicts Yahweh as feeling regret (וַיִּנָּחֶם) for creating humanity and heart-deep pain (וַיִּתְעַצֵּב אֶל־לִבּוֹ) because of the rebellion of his image-bearers (6:6). In their effort to preserve divine transcendence, some theologians and commentators have emptied the terminology of significance, treating it as anthropopathic metaphor for the incomprehensible God accommodating himself to finite human understanding. But the God that Moses portrays is not apathetic to the human condition. On the contrary, in response to man’s change from very good (1:31) to very evil (6:5), Yahweh genuinely feels a mixture of extreme disappointment and anger, which in turn produces a profound heart-felt sorrow, something any reader who has felt the pangs of the curse can to some degree identify with. This exposure of emotional turbulence within the heart of an infinite, eternal, unchangeable God is one of the greatest indicators of the colossal proportions of human sin.

But there is more. Moses’ reference to Yahweh’s seeing (6:5a; see also 6:11-12) and indeed feeling (6:6; see also 6:7b) the profoundly sinful human condition serves as a harbinger of divine action. Thus, God’s perception and passion portrayed in 6:5-6 lead reflexively to his response of judgment and grace portended in 6:7-8.87 Because the spread of human sin has reached such extreme proportions, God now must erase the moral filth from off the face of the earth with a universal flood (6:7, 13ff.). After many centuries, his divine forbearance now approaches its limit (6:3). The tidal wave of human hubris brings a deluge of divine wrath. The worldwide scope of this judgment90 is another factor that underscores the epidemic spread of human sin. Nor does God’s mercy to one family lessen the enormity and extensiveness of humanity’s wickedness. Rather God’s act of saving grace towards Noah (6:8, 13-21; 8:1, 15-17; 9:1ff.), as in the case of Enoch (5:24), is an exception that only reinforces the rule. Thus, with the broad strokes of human depravity, divine emotivity, and universal judgment, Moses paints a dark portrait of the invasive and pervasive spread of sin.

Where Sin Abounds: The Spread of Sin and the Curse in the Primeval History, By Robert Gonzales, Jr., Reformed Baptist Theological Review, January 2008

So, in the chapters which follow the inciting incident, up until the call of Abraham in the 12th chapter of the book of Genesis, you are shown over and over the need to restore the balance…


Two opposite progressions appear in this prologue [chs. 1—11]: (a) God’s orderly Creation with its climax in His blessing of man, and (b) the totally disintegrating work of sin with its two greatest curses being the Flood and the dispersion at Babel. The first progression demonstrates God’s plan to bring about perfect order from the beginning in spite of what the reader may know of man’s experience. The second progression demonstrates the great need of God’s intervention to provide the solution for the corrupt human race.

Derek Kidner, Genesis: An Introduction and Commentary

The call of Abraham to be the vehicle of blessing to the rest of the world presupposes that the other nations need the blessing of God’s light. The story of Genesis 3, and the progression into further moral and spiritual darkness in Genesis 4-11, explains why the other nations are so needy.

Adam And Eve in The Old Testament, by C. John Collins, Southern Baptist Journal of Theology (Spring 2011)


Powerful Forces We Cannot See

Paula and I talked almost all night about something the other night. If Christianity is the story we are in, Satan is an active force of antagonism in the drama.


Satan’s entire revenge plot hinges not on retaking Heaven, but in destroying Man.

Subversion 101: Heroism after Critical Theory, Interview with Michael Walsh, National Review, September 9, 2015

It’s so strange for me to talk this way, but Satan is a real character in your Christian story. And, he’s powerful. It spooks both Paula and I to think that while we secularists see ourselves as autonomous individuals, carrying out actions of our choosing, that may not be the case.

But especially when it comes to violent actions, if we’re in the Christian story, might we be deceived players in a cosmic war of some kind? Satan may be using us to bring about his destructive desires.

Wow. 

Here is something we found which shows his role…


The Bible, however, gives us a clear portrait of who Satan is and how he affects our lives. Put simply, the Bible defines Satan as an angelic being who fell from his position in heaven due to sin and is now completely opposed to God, doing all in his power to thwart God’s purposes.

Satan was created as a holy angelIsaiah 14:12 possibly gives Satan’s pre-fall name as Lucifer. Ezekiel 28:12-14 describes Satan as having been created a cherub, apparently the highest created angel. He became arrogant in his beauty and status and decided he wanted to sit on a throne above that of God (Isaiah 14:13-14Ezekiel 28:151 Timothy 3:6). Satan’s pride led to his fall. Notice the many “I will” statements in Isaiah 14:12-15. Because of his sin, God permanently removed Satan from his exalted position and role.

Satan became the ruler of this world and the prince of the power of the air (John 12:312 Corinthians 4:4Ephesians 2:2). He is an accuser (Revelation 12:10), a tempter (Matthew 4:31 Thessalonians 3:5), and a deceiver (Genesis 32 Corinthians 4:4Revelation 20:3). His very name means “adversary” or “one who opposes.” Another of his titles, the devil, means “slanderer.”

Who is Satan? Who is the devil?, GotQuestions.org

Satan, despite all the centuries that have passed and all the changes in this world, has not changed a bit. He uses these exact same tactics today. He manipulates our minds and hearts to dwell on those things we cannot have, rather than on all the hopes and possibilities God has for us. Satan is real. He hates God, and he hates you. He hates truth and all who pursue it. Satan is the ultimate villain in history, and he is the villain of this story. 

Justin Buzzard, The Big Story

And Paula Wong showed us how the story of the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness revealed what Satan wanted, which appears to fit with what Coyne wrote…


A scene/chapter that establishes the central crime and its inherent MacGuffin (the big ”want” of the villain) 

Shawn Coyne, The Story Grid

You must have what’s called a MacGuffin, which is the thing that the villain wants above all things. It could be the nuclear codes. It could be, in the case of The Silence of the Lambs, a suit. A woman suit for a very deranged man to wear. That’s a MacGuffin.

Genre Review, by Shawn Coyne

So, here are the passages…


Matthew 4:1-11

Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.”But he answered, “It is written,

“‘Man shall not live by bread alone,
    but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written,

“‘He will command his angels concerning you,’

and

“‘On their hands they will bear you up,
    lest you strike your foot against a stone.’”

Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written,

“‘You shall worship the Lord your God
    and him only shall you serve.’”

Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him.


Luke 4:1-13

And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness for forty days, being tempted by the devil. And he ate nothing during those days. And when they were ended, he was hungry. The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.” And Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone.’” And the devil took him up and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time, and said to him, “To you I will give all this authority and their glory, for it has been delivered to me, and I give it to whom I will. If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.”  And Jesus answered him, “It is written,

“‘You shall worship the Lord your God,
    and him only shall you serve.’”

And he took him to Jerusalem and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, for it is written,

“‘He will command his angels concerning you,
    to guard you,’

and

“‘On their hands they will bear you up,
    lest you strike your foot against a stone.’”

And Jesus answered him, “It is said, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” And when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from him until an opportune time.


And what Satan offers there fits with this…


We know that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.

1 John 5:19


So, there is a fascinating connection between the inciting incident in the garden and the temptation of Jesus in the wilderness.

Look at this…


The events in the wilderness have profound significance when viewed against the Old Testament stories of Adam and Israel. In the Garden of Eden Satan attempted to undermine Adam’s confidence in God as well—and the temptation involved food!There were differences, of course: Adam was well fed and physically fit; Jesus was hungry and weak. Adam was the object of Satan’s initial seduction of human beings; Jesus was attacked after His opponent had thousands of years of practice.

……

Jesus’ temptations, wrote Ferguson, “constitute an epochal…[and] cosmic…event.” His temptations “constitute the tempting of the last Adam.” The temptation account is to be seen, he wrote, “as a re-run of Eden.” “Like Adam before Him,” he added, “Jesus was incited to ‘be as God’ and to reject His word. But He chose the way of God-glorifying obedience and suffering instead.”

David J. MacLeod, The Temptation of Christ, EmJ 10:1 (Summer 2001)

Yet even the covenant with Israel is not fully comprehensible apart from the prior testing of Adam in paradise. Though Deuteronomy 6–8 forms the basis of the dialogues between Jesus and Satan, the testing motif began in Eden and is repeated several times before Israel’s formation as a nation, most conspicuously in the case of Abraham. In the beginning, God’s partner in the creation covenant was charged with the mandate to subdue the earth and was promised, at least by implication, a reward at the end of his task (the “Sabbath rest” of Gen 2:1–3; Heb 4:9). However, Adam repudiated his formation as God’s image and chose the way of self-determination. Rather than inherit “all the kingdoms of the earth” by obedience to God, he sought to become like God by compliance with the tempter (Gen 3:5). The devil wanted Jesus to repeat Adam’s error; the temptations were Satan’s effort to induce Jesus to renounce His vocation as the obedient Son.

Don B. Garlington, Jesus, the Unique Son of God: Tested and Faithful, BSac 151:603 (Jul 94)

And seeing the story in light of what Satan wants, we began considering the possibility the following passages in some manner illuminate the backstory of Satan…


Ezekiel 28

1 The word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, say to the prince of Tyre, Thus says the Lord God:

“Because your heart is proud,
    and you have said, ‘I am a god,
I sit in the seat of the gods,
    in the heart of the seas,’
yet you are but a man, and no god,
    though you make your heart like the heart of a god—
you are indeed wiser than Daniel;
    no secret is hidden from you;
by your wisdom and your understanding
    you have made wealth for yourself,
and have gathered gold and silver
    into your treasuries;
by your great wisdom in your trade
    you have increased your wealth,
    and your heart has become proud in your wealth—
therefore thus says the Lord God:
Because you make your heart
    like the heart of a god,
therefore, behold, I will bring foreigners upon you,
    the most ruthless of the nations;
and they shall draw their swords against the beauty of your wisdom
    and defile your splendor.
They shall thrust you down into the pit,
    and you shall die the death of the slain
    in the heart of the seas.
Will you still say, ‘I am a god,’
    in the presence of those who kill you,
though you are but a man, and no god,
    in the hands of those who slay you?
10 You shall die the death of the uncircumcised
    by the hand of foreigners;
    for I have spoken, declares the Lord God.”

11 Moreover, the word of the Lord came to me: 12 “Son of man, raise a lamentation over the king of Tyre, and say to him, Thus says the Lord God:

“You were the signet of perfection,
    full of wisdom and perfect in beauty.
13 You were in Eden, the garden of God;
    every precious stone was your covering,
sardius, topaz, and diamond,
    beryl, onyx, and jasper,
sapphire, emerald, and carbuncle;
    and crafted in gold were your settings
    and your engravings.
On the day that you were created
    they were prepared.
14 You were an anointed guardian cherub.
    I placed you; you were on the holy mountain of God;
    in the midst of the stones of fire you walked.
15 You were blameless in your ways
    from the day you were created,
    till unrighteousness was found in you.
16 In the abundance of your trade
    you were filled with violence in your midst, and you sinned;
so I cast you as a profane thing from the mountain of God,
    and I destroyed you, O guardian cherub,
    from the midst of the stones of fire.
17 Your heart was proud because of your beauty;
    you corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor.
I cast you to the ground;
    I exposed you before kings,
    to feast their eyes on you.
18 By the multitude of your iniquities,
    in the unrighteousness of your trade
    you profaned your sanctuaries;
so I brought fire out from your midst;
    it consumed you,
and I turned you to ashes on the earth
    in the sight of all who saw you.
19 All who know you among the peoples
    are appalled at you;
you have come to a dreadful end
    and shall be no more forever.”


And note…


Many Bible scholars through the years have seen in the proclamation against the King of Tyre (28:11-19) a description of the fall of Satan.

Dr. David Jeremiah, The Jeremiah Study Bible

And look at how this passage, about one of the kings of Babylon, which shows a gap similar to the one Satan is going to experience…


Isaiah 14:12-15

12 “How you are fallen from heaven,
    O Day Star, son of Dawn!
How you are cut down to the ground,
    you who laid the nations low!
13 You said in your heart,
    ‘I will ascend to heaven;
above the stars of God
    I will set my throne on high;
I will sit on the mount of assembly
    in the far reaches of the north;
14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds;
    I will make myself like the Most High.’
15 But you are brought down to Sheol,
    to the far reaches of the pit.


And given the reality of how Satan’s story will come to an ending of irreversible change…


… and the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.

Revelation 20:10


… then consider this in relation to the unfolding drama in America …


LOPEZ: “Satan may be able to destroy, but he cannot create.” Why is this important to bear in mind?

WALSH: God is light, creation; Satan is darkness and destruction. Paradise Lost is one of the principal analytical tools in The Devil’s Pleasure Palace, and you will note that Satan’s entire revenge plot hinges not on retaking Heaven, but in destroying Man.

Subversion 101: Heroism after Critical Theory, Interview with Michael Walsh, National Review, September 9, 2015

Rage is the salient characteristic of Satan and the satanic in men. There are others, including guile, deceit, and temptation. But at the heart of Satan’s mission is an overwhelming animus against God and the godly.

….

The Devil will say what he has to say and will quote such scripture as he requires in order to achieve the sole objective remaining to him: the ruination of Man and his consignment to Hell.

Michael Walsh, The Devil’s Pleasure Palace

So we weren’t surprised, then, when we came across this passage…


Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.

1 Peter 5:8


And look at the role Satan played in this story…


1 Chronicles 21

1 Then Satan stood against Israel and incited David to number Israel. So David said to Joab and the commanders of the army, “Go, number Israel, from Beersheba to Dan, and bring me a report, that I may know their number.” But Joab said, “May the Lord add to his people a hundred times as many as they are! Are they not, my lord the king, all of them my lord’s servants? Why then should my lord require this? Why should it be a cause of guilt for Israel?” But the king’s word prevailed against Joab. So Joab departed and went throughout all Israel and came back to Jerusalem. And Joab gave the sum of the numbering of the people to David. In all Israel there were 1,100,000 men who drew the sword, and in Judah 470,000 who drew the sword. But he did not include Levi and Benjamin in the numbering, for the king’s command was abhorrent to Joab.

But God was displeased with this thing, and he struck Israel. And David said to God, “I have sinned greatly in that I have done this thing. But now, please take away the iniquity of your servant, for I have acted very foolishly.” And the Lord spoke to Gad, David’s seer, saying, 10 “Go and say to David, ‘Thus says the Lord, Three things I offer you; choose one of them, that I may do it to you.’” 11 So Gad came to David and said to him, “Thus says the Lord, ‘Choose what you will: 12 either three years of famine, or three months of devastation by your foes while the sword of your enemies overtakes you, or else three days of the sword of the Lord, pestilence on the land, with the angel of the Lord destroying throughout all the territory of Israel.’ Now decide what answer I shall return to him who sent me.”13 Then David said to Gad, “I am in great distress. Let me fall into the hand of the Lord, for his mercy is very great, but do not let me fall into the hand of man.”

14 So the Lord sent a pestilence on Israel, and 70,000 men of Israel fell. 15 And God sent the angel to Jerusalem to destroy it, but as he was about to destroy it, the Lord saw, and he relented from the calamity. And he said to the angel who was working destruction, “It is enough; now stay your hand.” And the angel of the Lord was standing by the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite. 16 And David lifted his eyes and saw the angel of the Lord standing between earth and heaven, and in his hand a drawn sword stretched out over Jerusalem. Then David and the elders, clothed in sackcloth, fell upon their faces.17 And David said to God, “Was it not I who gave command to number the people? It is I who have sinned and done great evil. But these sheep, what have they done? Please let your hand, O Lord my God, be against me and against my father’s house. But do not let the plague be on your people.”

18 Now the angel of the Lord had commanded Gad to say to David that David should go up and raise an altar to the Lord on the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite. 19 So David went up at Gad’s word, which he had spoken in the name of the Lord. 20 Now Ornan was threshing wheat. He turned and saw the angel, and his four sons who were with him hid themselves. 21 As David came to Ornan, Ornan looked and saw David and went out from the threshing floor and paid homage to David with his face to the ground. 22 And David said to Ornan, “Give me the site of the threshing floor that I may build on it an altar to the Lord—give it to me at its full price—that the plague may be averted from the people.” 23 Then Ornan said to David, “Take it, and let my lord the king do what seems good to him. See, I give the oxen for burnt offerings and the threshing sledges for the wood and the wheat for a grain offering; I give it all.” 24 But King David said to Ornan, “No, but I will buy them for the full price. I will not take for the Lord what is yours, nor offer burnt offerings that cost me nothing.” 25 So David paid Ornan 600 shekels of gold by weight for the site. 26 And David built there an altar to the Lord and presented burnt offerings and peace offerings and called on the Lord, and the Lord answered him with fire from heaven upon the altar of burnt offering.27 Then the Lord commanded the angel, and he put his sword back into its sheath.

28 At that time, when David saw that the Lord had answered him at the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite, he sacrificed there. 29 For the tabernacle of the Lord, which Moses had made in the wilderness, and the altar of burnt offering were at that time in the high place at Gibeon, 30 but David could not go before it to inquire of God, for he was afraid of the sword of the angel of the Lord.


Wild stuff.

And if Christianity is the story we are in, you can’t push it away.

Oh, and it looks like it’s not just Satan as a force of antagonism by himself. Look at this passage Paula Wong showed us…


Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.  Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.

Ephesians 6:10-13



Satan the Deceiver

And so, now we are wondering whether you American Christians have considered the possibility your enemy is pleased with your refusal to take a serious look at the possibility God the Great Storyteller has given humanity a compelling story of classical design…


Satan’s greatest deception is to persuade us that we do not need to acknowledge the sovereignty of God. As with Adam and Eve, he continues to deceive human beings regarding God’s authority.  Not surprisingly, he is particularly keen to have people ignore or reject the biblical meta-story. By doing so Satan bolsters his own position as ruler of the world.

T. Desmond Alexander, From Eden to the New Jerusalem

And Paula Wong pointed out that Satan is a great deceiver who plays a major role in the story. Look at these passages she showed us…


But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.” He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

Genesis 3:9-13


But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ.

2 Corinthians 11:3


And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.

2 Corinthians 11:14


And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world— he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God.

Revelation 12:9-10


Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding in his hand the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain. And he seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years, and threw him into the pit, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he might not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were ended. After that he must be released for a little while.

Then I saw thrones, and seated on them were those to whom the authority to judge was committed. Also I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and for the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! Over such the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with him for a thousand years.

And when the thousand years are ended, Satan will be released from his prison and will come out to deceive the nations that are at the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them for battle; their number is like the sand of the sea. And they marched up over the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city, but fire came down from heaven and consumed them, and the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.

Revelation 20:1-10 


And you can’t ignore the reality that he is a schemer…


Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.

Ephesians 6:11


For this is why I wrote, that I might test you and know whether you are obedient in everything. Anyone whom you forgive, I also forgive. Indeed, what I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, has been for your sake in the presence of Christ, so that we would not be outwitted by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his designs.

2 Corinthians 2:9-11


You see the same kind of scheming in the Garden of Eden, on the day of the fall. First, we’re introduced to the craftiness of Satan:


Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made.

Genesis 3:1


Then you get to see the craftiness in action as Satan puts his strategy into play…


He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

Genesis 3:1-5


And notice in the following how Satan’s strategy is a pattern he still uses….


The pattern of temptation observable here is one Satan has used often and still uses (cf. the temptations of Achan, David, and Jesus Christ). Satan’s first step was to plant a seed of doubt in Eve’s mind concerning God’s ways (vv. 1-3). The key phrase is “from any” (v. 1). Satan focused Eve’s attention on God’s one prohibition. He suggested that God did not really want what was best for Adam and Eve but rather was withholding something from them that was essentially good. He hinted that God’s line of protection was actually a line that He drew because He was selfish. Satan still tempts women to believe that God’s role for them is primarily for His benefit rather than for their welfare.

Dr. Thomas Constable, Notes on Genesis

So, consider Satan’s temptation of Christ in the wilderness in light of a strategy which has been employed throughout history. A strategy of attacking weakness…


Great generals down the centuries—but also a general as recent and as highly regarded as Napoleon Bonaparte—had operated on the principle, if at all possible, of never attacking into strength, but of attacking into weakness.

The Military Genius of Stonewall Jackson, by Bevin Alexander, BevinAlexander.com

Notice how this strategy of attacking into weakness focused on what Jesus was experiencing…


Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” But he answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

Matthew 4:1-4


Satan isn’t passive. He puts his malevolent strategies into play against God’s people.

So, if Christianity is the story we are in, shouldn’t all this at least raise the possibility you Christians in America are experiencing his schemes?

For instance, have you considered how he also plays the role of the accuser?

According to the book of Revelation, Satan is an accuser of Christians..


And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world— he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God.

Revelation 12:9-10


We found a similar thing in the Old Testament book of Zechariah…


Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him.

Zechariah 3:1


And this kind of accusing shows up in the first chapter of the book of Job…


Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them. The Lord said to Satan, “From where have you come?” Satan answered the Lord and said, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it.” And the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?” Then Satan answered the Lord and said, “Does Job fear God for no reason? Have you not put a hedge around him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. But stretch out your hand and touch all that he has, and he will curse you to your face.”

Job 1:6-11


Notice in the above passage how Satan is accusing Job at a relational level. He accuses Job of fearing God only because of the benefits.

This provides a pointer to perhaps the key issue of the book….


[T]his book reveals that the basis of the relationship between God and people is essentially God’s sovereign grace and our response of trust and obedience. The basic problem the Book of Job sets forth seems to be the relationship between God and man.

Notes on Job, Dr. Thomas L. Constable

As you can imagine, we have no way of proving these speculations.

And yet, when we began to connect the dots, we began to wonder. If Christianity is the story we are in, what if there’s something to it? 



Humanity’s Resistance to God


As the story of the Bible unfolds and the Active Protagonist pursues his Object of Desire, he also meets with resistance from the human beings he is trying to rescue and restore.

Look what Jesus said…


If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me. If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have been guilty of sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. Whoever hates me hates my Father also. If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin, but now they have seen and hated both me and my Father. But the word that is written in their Law must be fulfilled: ‘They hated me without a cause.’

John 15:17-25


And the following insight is worth your attention in relation to this matter of human beings and their resistance to the Quest of the Active Protagonist.

Notice how it connects to the larger story in the Bible…


1. Humans cannot be understood aside from the God-human relationship. The God-human relationship is the fundamental reality, around which everything else about human nature must be understood.

2. This is an abusive relationship, and, among abusive relationships it is an unusual one because the abused partner (God) is the more powerful of the two.

3. The estrangement and injustice caused by this abuse has been overcome by God’s initiative in sending Jesus as an atoning sacrifice, to reconcile humans and God, and re-establish an affectionate and interactive closeness between humans and God. Humans could not solve their own problem. Deliverance was needed.

An Insider’s Effort to Blow Up Psychiatry, by Jeffrey H. Boyd, Trinity Journal 17:2 (Fall 1996)

This resistance in the story in the Bible shows up in so many ways, but there is one passage in the New Testament book of Romans which will especially catch your attention…


For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.

For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made.


So they are without excuse.


For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.


Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.


Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.


For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.


And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done.


They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice.


They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness.


They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless.

Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.

Romans 1:18-32


There is, of course, so much more to explore about the role which the forces of antagonism play in the story in the Bible.

And maybe someday our team will have the time to get there.