When I was a kid, I watched Batman. No, probably not the one you are familiar with. This Batman TV series was lighthearted and full of puns. In fact, the original Batman movie that released in 1966 might be one of the most hilarious flicks I have ever seen. Our caped superhero in that version was a cheesy yet heroic character who left you in stitches.
Now it's 2008, and just a few years after the new Batman Begins, we have a decidedly different Dark Knight. Christian Bale brings the full power and range of his amazing acting skills to create perhaps the baaaadest Batman yet.
What makes him so bad? Well, as usual he has awesome toys to help his crime fighting skills, but he also does a masterful job of portraying the unflinching courage and unrelenting sense of justice that every superhero must have.
And then there's the Joker.
All due respect to previous actors who played the Joker, but when you compare them to Heath Ledger, they come up...well...as clowns.
Ledger didn't play the Joker, he became the Joker. A maniacal borderline sinister villain who's only pleasure is found in the pain of others. He has no fear of death, and his obvious goal is to bring every other human being into the emotional abyss where he dwells...or simply to end their lives in the cruelest way possible.
Is it possible that in the real world there exists a form of pure evil? I would guess that most would agree - citing examples like Adolph Hitler or the 9/11 terrorists. But what about an evil that is even beyond that? Is there an entity that, by comparison, lessens even the specter of wickedness cast by Nazi's and terrorists?
I believe there is such a creature. In fact it is this being who is directly or indirectly responsible for all the pain, death, and destruction we witness on a regular basis.
The Bible has many names and descriptions for him. You would know him by the title of 'The Devil', or Satan. Like the Joker, he comes at you with a smile on his face - but murder in his heart.
Make no mistake - Satan is real, or Jesus Christ is a liar. Here's what our Savior said:
You are the children of your father, the Devil, and you want to follow your father's desires. From the very beginning he was a murderer and has never been on the side of truth, because there is no truth in him. When he tells a lie, he is only doing what is natural to him, because he is a liar and the father of all lies. (John 8: 44).
This doesn't sound like a myth or a made up personification of evil to me. Satan is mentioned from Genesis through Revelation, and believe me, he loves it when people write his existence off as a medieval legend that only stupid people still believe.
What is stupid is to underestimate Satan. The 'joke' that he is trying to play on you is to believe his lies. For example:
There is no God. There is no hell. There is no price for disobeying God. There are many ways to heaven. There is nothing wrong with lying, cheating, hating, lusting, or anything else you feel will bring you pleasure or happiness. If there is a God, He doesn't love you and can't forgive you. And I could write a few hundred or even thousands of other ways he lies, and tricks, and deceives.
Why? Because he hates us. We are humans created in the image of God and the object of His special love. Jesus gave His life so we could live forever with Him in heaven, but Satan would rather see us accompany him to hell at the final judgment.
So if you end up seeing The Dark Knight - enjoy the film - and let the images and feelings of incomprehensible evil that the Joker imprints on your soul remind you that the biggest Joker of them all waits for you just outside the theater door.
But don't be freaked out, because you can (and should!) defend yourself every day. Here's the advice God gives us:
A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God's armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.
Therefore, put on every piece of God's armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God's righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere. (Ephesians 6:10-18)
God's spiritual body armor is better than any toy in any Batman movie - and believe me, you'll need every piece and every prayer if you want to survive the dark night that Satan has brought to this world. Head: What you need to know about this truthSatan is not a myth, he is the source of pure evil, and he wants to steal your joy, take your life, and ultimately have you join him in hell.
Heart: What you need to feel about this truthEver hear the phrase 'be afraid'? Yep, it applies. Be afraid of who the Bible calls 'the enemy of your soul'. Be afraid of the depths you could fall to if you give Satan even a toe hold on your life. But...be confident that when you are full of the Holy Spirit, and protected by God's armor, you can always defeat the enemy.
Hands: What you need to do about this truthTake some time to delve further into what it means to 'put on the full armor of God'.
Lane Palmer serves as a writer for Dare 2 Share Ministries (D2S) in Arvada, Colorado, a ministry committed to energizing and equipping teenagers to know, live, share and own their faith in Jesus. For more information about D2S, please visit www.dare2share.org.