The band The Grateful Dead had a song, which I became familiar with when it was covered by The Counting Crows for their greatest-hits album, called “A Friend Of The Devil Is A Friend Of Mine.” That song happens to be part of a lengthy tradition of songs by rock & roll artists that try to show a little bit of favor to Satan, such as the Rolling Stones song, “Sympathy For The Devil.” While these songs show a particularly notable strain of religious sentiment within a substantial portion of the rock & roll world , they also demonstrate a substantial degree of naivete in assuming that Satan has friends and that he deserves our sympathy in any way, shape, or form.
The Bible speaks a great deal about Satan’s way of operating, and that way does not in any way make him conducive to friendship. John 8:44 reads: “You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.” 1 Peter 5:8 warns us: “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” These are not qualities that make someone a good friend–a total lack of integrity and a desire to exploit and destroy others. Of course, the Bible is written by the adversary of our adversary, but the truth is the truth no matter the perspective of the source.
It is not as if the demons are themselves a brotherhood in arms. Demons, when portrayed in scripture, are shown as being opportunistic in desiring to take the credit for sharing the Gospel (Acts 16:17-18), are shown as being fearful when faced with the possibility of judgment before their time . Indeed, the fear that demons have is what accounts for their characteristic bullying behavior, craven towards the strong and tyrannical towards the weak. The fact that the book of Daniel even records hostility between the demonic rulers of the kingdoms of this earth demonstrates the truth (hardly comforting) that the kingdom of Satan is a house divided against itself that cannot stand. Even games like Dungeons & Dragons portray a tension between the anarchy and tyranny (under the alignments of chaotic evil and lawful evil, respectively) within the demonic realm. This division represents, of course, the classic satanic approach to authority .
It is therefore of little wonder that those who are influenced by Satan to show fear instead of love to others manifest the same sort of difficulties when it comes to the truth as well as godly behavior towards others. Perfect love casts out fear (1 John 4:18), but perfect fear also casts out love. Our hearts cannot be filled with fear about others and also be filled with love for others as is the second greatest commandment. And if we do not love our brothers, whom we see (if we do not always understand them), neither can we love God, whom we cannot see (1 John 4:20). Nor can the love we have be something of mere profession, but if it exists in our hearts it will be demonstrated in our works over a consistent basis and over time. To the extent that we are being influenced by evil, we will tend to hate what is good and live our lives dominated by fear rather than demonstrating a love of the truth and a love of others.
That said, it is always a pleasure to meet those who are motivated by love and kindness rather than fear. One of the benefits of being an outsider all of my days, wherever I have gone, is that I have been able to recognize the kindness of others towards those who may not initially appear to be able to do very much good for others at all. I remember about a decade ago the open friendliness of a young girl who is now a thoughtful and accomplished young writer. As a child myself, I received a great deal of kindness from a young woman of a background very similar to me, and I have never forgotten that kindness given to a lonely and rather oppressed child, nor will I ever so long as my memory remains. We may not share identical practices with our friends, but sharing a fundamental devotion to godly character and a motivation of love and graciousness and kindness towards one’s fellow human beings is an essential aspect of being a friend of Jesus Christ.
In stark contrast to the demonic realm, the family of God is portrayed as being united. It may not always be united in a way that is obvious to us, in having the same kind of personality or the same kind of interests, or even the same level and depth of knowledge of and practice of God’s ways, but it is united nonetheless. It is united by a common belief in the Bible as the foundation of our practice and beliefs, in humility about our understanding and a hunger for greater knowledge and obedience and a longing for love and for the well-being of others. We are one body, with one spirit, one faith, one Lord and Savior, and one common heavenly Father (Ephesians 4:1-8) . If we do not all start from the same point, we are all going the same destination, to spend all time as part of a loving family devoted to our Father’s business as part of a unified Kingdom whose citizens we are.
In contrast to Satan, the ways of God and of Jesus Christ are conducive to love. John 3:16, a statement of God’s extravagant and costly love for His wayward children, in sacrificing His only begotten Son Jesus Christ so that we may have an opportunity to receive eternal life despite our sins and imperfections, is practically a cliche so commonly repeated that we do not grasp its depth. Jesus Christ, likewise, expressed in His last day on earth before that sacrifice His own commitment to His friends, saying in John 15:11-15: “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full. This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. You are My friends if you do whatever I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you.” Who would not appreciate to have such friends who are so generous with the truth, being open and honest and full of love and generosity not out of a motivation for their self-interest, but in a fellow feeling that desires the best for others. Surely we should all be such friends to our fellow brethren.
Therefore, rather than seeking to be friends of the devil, we should seek to become friends of the Savior. After all, is it better to have friends who are filled with love and kindness towards ourselves and others or those who are motivated by fear and hatred? Is it better to have friends who are open and honest, even at the point of vulnerability to great harm, or those who are deceitful and treacherous? Is it better to be friends for those who seek our salvation and our redemption, or those who seek to devour us and derail us from the destiny for which we were created by our loving heavenly Father? In a world that finds it fashionable to delight in darkness and evil, the most revolutionary and countercultural way one can behave is to be a devoted follower of Jesus Christ according to His ways and to be a friend to fellow believers wherever they may be found, of whatever personality or talents or age or any other factor according to the flesh. A friend of the Savior is a friend of mine, and hopefully you wish to be my friend as well.
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