As I quietly and reverently walked through this ancient edifice, I was struck by this painting, on display in a building which is essentially a museum, certainly not a place overcrowded with worshippers. There, in the middle of this venerable church, was an artistic rendering of what I deal with almost every day of my life. Archangel Michael was depicted vanquishing the powers of darkness. There could be no mistake that this artist from nearly 500 years ago took demons as seriously as I do. This oil was no psychological construct of inner angst. Frans Floris took his theme quite literally, as I’m sure the priests and parishioners of his day did.
I’ve been to Europe many times and always find it remarkable that the continent is filled with such majestic houses of worship, mostly relics of the past, amazing to behold but with little practical spiritual relevance. As this painting illustrates, Europe was once alive with faith and Christian influence. Today, few attend churches. As I stood just outside this holy place, two Satanists walked by, dressed in black head to foot, and sporting T-shirts with pentagrams.
How could this happen to a continent so rife with religion centuries ago? It didn’t take place overnight. Slowly people prospered and lost their “first love” (Rev. 2:4). Clergy became more focused on power and recognition Religion became a means to an end, not the end of all man’s searching. Don’t think it can’t happen in America. It already has, to a tragic extent. We’re just a few decades behind Europe. Yet, if we read this roadmap for the signs of spiritual apostasy and lukewarm theology, we may avoid Europe’s moral decline. One way to do that is to recognize the enemy, as did Frans Floris, and join Michael in the eternal battle against the demons of Hell!
An encouraging word: BLESSED AND COVERED.
Psalm 32:1 reminds us that the man whose sins are forgiven is “blessed.” The verse goes on to say such a blessed person also has his sins “covered.” Remember how Adam and Eve covered their nakedness once God confronted them for their sin? They instinctively knew they could not talk to God without being covered. For them, there was no Cross, no Blood, no Atonement. Their evil was exposed, and they grabbed fig leaves as a way of covering shame before God. For Christians this side of the Cross, there is no need for humiliation or fig leaves when approaching God. We who are saved, have the righteousness of Christ as our covering (Philippians 3:9). Remember that if the devil tries to torment you with condemnation.
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