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What shall a man give in exchange for his soul…

In the mid 1980’s, while studying Mann’s Doctor Faustus with my AP English class, I found it interesting that I was the only one lacking pathos — neither the other teenagers, nor the teacher felt the same way I did about the bargain. Even before my conversion, I found it hard to feel compassion for a man who sells his soul to Satan. Though we all sin, Proverbs enlightens those interested in the difference between a just man who sins and a wicked man, For a just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again: but the wicked shall fall into mischief (Proverbs 24:16).

One of my favorite movie quotes is from Peter Jackson's rendition of Tolkien's The Fellowship of the Ring, “The Ring passed to Isildur, who had this one chance to destroy evil forever, but the hearts of men are easily corrupted. And the ring of power has a will of its own.” That corruption is a simple way to remember the difference between a just man who falls and a wicked man. The just man falls and rises up. Think King David. The wicked man is corrupted and does not turn back. Think King Saul.

This answers the age old question, “Why?" Though often ignored, God answers it over and over again in His word. It started in the garden and it has not changed since — men are drawn away by the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life (1 John 2:16). It is as old as Eve and technology doesn’t change the fundamentals. Here’s how James describes it in chapter 1 verses 14-15, But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.

I fully understand the power of Satan — the lure of the prince of this world. I felt his pull, dallied with him, gave in to his whims, lived as his servant and, thankfully, turned away and took the Narrow Road. I decided to flee Satan and draw near to God. I was asked recently if I believed in demon possession today (partially a tongue in cheek question). Really, I believe that Satan does possess us. Not in the way he did in past times. Not in the horror movie manner. No, I believe Satan possesses us when we give in to our temptations. We choose Satan over God time and again when we sin. We allow him to possess us in a figurative sense.

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