(By CP Cartoonist Rod Anderson)
It began as a Super Bowl commercial, and it continues to be used on television to sell automobiles. A young man is offered a deal from the devil. If he will sign the contract, thereby selling his soul to Satan, he will receive a new Mercedes-Benz along with beautiful women, riches, and fame. It's a clever marketing approach. And it is a spiritual concept which is ingrained in our culture, in spite of how secular things have become in recent decades. But is this concept correct?
Does the devil have the ability to do this sort of thing? Or has Mercedes-Benz drifted into the realm of religious fiction and fantasy?
In truth, God has allowed the devil to maintain plenty of resources at his disposal. We don't know all the reasons why God currently allows this to happen, but we do know Satan's days of "making deals" are numbered. We also know the devil can only offer people the things of the world, but he cannot offer them eternal life in paradise. In fact, he doesn't even possess that himself. He was on that path when God first created him as a good angel a long time ago, but then Lucifer traded in his holy assignment for what was behind "door number 2" so to speak.
The devil knows how to tempt people with some of the same things which drew him away from the Lord. He knows what appeals to man's fleshly appetites. And he is a master at making things look good. That's what temptation is all about. After all, who would go for something that didn't look good?
In the commercial, the young man ends up declining the devil's offer once he sees the billboard showing he can afford to buy the car all on his own. The message? Why sell your soul to the devil when the luxury of a Mercedes-Benz is already well within your reach? Once his offer is refused, the devil disappears into a puff of smoke and the commercial comes to an end.
But what about in the real world? Is this similar to the way it actually goes down?
Well, do you really want to know? I mean really? Because what I am about to share with you is not something anyone would be able to learn about the devil from a car commercial. What I am about to tell you is shrouded in mystery, and yet revealed in Scripture. It is not an easy pill to swallow. And it is something the prince of demons would rather that you don't know.
Here goes. The reality is that Satan does not actually need someone to sign away their soul to him. The devil already has it. A deep breath about right now would be helpful.
Think about that young man in the commercial. And then consider what Jesus taught on the topic. Christ warned about storing up earthly riches. And He warned against loving money. But He also taught that the souls of men are in one of two camps. Either your soul is in God's camp, or it is in Satan's camp. There is no middle ground. It's either one or the other. And yes, I know that plenty of well-meaning people label this sort of teaching extreme. Do you know why they do that? Because they do not know the truth themselves that everyone's soul is either in God's possession, or Satan's possession.
Infants are in a rather unique position spiritually, and so let's focus on teenagers and adults. Take the young man in the commercial for example. There is no protection for his soul apart from the blood which Jesus shed for him on the cross. Christ's blood is the only, and I mean the only protection and defense against the devil. The truth is that Satan really doesn't need you to sign away your soul to him if you are an unbeliever. He just wants you as an unbeliever to think that he can't touch you unless you specifically choose to interact with Him.
The fact of the matter is that your parents gave you something which is not godly. They passed along their sinful nature to you when you were conceived. You didn't ask for it, but you got it anyway. It is part of the DNA of your soul. And it separates you from God.
Some people mistakenly think that Satan cannot reach them as long as they don't "make any deals with the devil." Well guess what? The choice to reject Jesus is actually a choice to accept the devil's "bargain." Let me say that again. By rejecting Jesus and saying "no" to Him, you are also saying "yes" to the one who is blinding you from seeing Jesus as your Savior. You "signed his contract" so to speak the minute you sinned against God, and then went on to reject Christ and chart your own course instead.
By the way, "The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil's work." (1 John 3:8) This is no child's play. It is serious stuff with eternal ramifications. At the cross, Jesus literally conquered Satan and his demons. (see Col. 2:15)
The car commercial does nothing to tell a person how dangerous the devil is in real life. Mercedes-Benz created a persona for that ad which does not appear to be all that ominous. In the real world, Satan works hard to keep his identity and his purposes hidden. He carries out his schemes in the shadows. And the cryptic spiritual messages in the media only cloud a person's thinking about the real situation.
If only the devil were as weak as Mercedes-Benz made him out to be. This type of misinformation only perpetuates the illusion that Satan has a hard time finding "recruits." The truth is that he had his clutches into you the minute you sinned against your Creator.
This is the reason Jesus told the apostle Paul, "I am sending you to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me." (Acts 26:17,18) You don't have to "sign up" to be under the power of Satan. You just have to be born into this world and start living according to your natural instincts.
Obviously, Mercedes-Benz didn't set out to present a correct theological message concerning the devil. They just want to sell cars. But by using the popular "sell your soul to the devil" routine, they are just reinforcing the idea that people only come under his power if they make a deal with him. If only it were that calculated. As it is, man without Christ is man under the power of Satan. And any way you slice it, that is a hard pill to swallow, especially given our natural way of thinking about God, Satan, and eternity.
If we could really learn the truth about the devil from a car commercial, the evil one would have to be quite impotent and harmless don't you think?