October 31st 2010

“Hobgoblin, Nor Foul Fiend, Can Daunt His Spirit.”

“But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the wicked one.”
2 Thessalonians 3:3 (NIV UK)

Halloween is a time of year for scary stories and much laughter.

Traditionally it was regarded as a festival of transition, noting the end of summer and the beginning of winter. It was adopted from Druidism into certain Christian cultures and became a celebration of chasing the evil spirits away before the cold and dark days began.

People used to pray, “From goulies and ghosties and long-leggedy beasties, and things that go bump in the night, Good Lord, deliver us!” Such concerns and related superstitions were very prevalent when the writer John Bunyan lived. Bunyan produced most of his work during the reign of the merry monarch, Charles II, just after the English Civil War in the seventeenth century. Religiously it was a time of tension, and Bunyan was imprisoned twice for non-compliance with the emerging Church of England. During his spell in prison Bunyan wrote his most famous work, The Pilgrim’s Progress, in which we find the renowned hymn, Who Would True Valour See?

Bunyan was not intimidated with evil because he knew that Jesus was Lord of all. He understood that Jesus had the victory over death and hell and over all of the forces of Satan. Hence into his hymn he put the words quoted above: “Hobgoblin, nor foul fiend, can daunt his spirit”. This line was removed later by evangelicals because it did not fit into their theological views.

Should Christians fear the evil one? The verse from 2 Thessalonians reminds us that the Lord is faithful. We can trust in him to protect us and make us strong in him. We have confidence, not in our own faith, but because great is God’s faithfulness to us.

Therefore, in the words of Bunyan, talking to each of us about our constant commitment to Jesus, whom we trust to always deliver us from evil:

 “There’s no Discouragement,
Shall make him once Relent,
His first avow’d Intent,
To be a Pilgrim.”

Lord, thank you that you are faithful to us, and that you strengthen us and protect us from the evil one. In Jesus’ name.

Study by James Henderson

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