But when I perceived that the fury of certain bad men had risen to such a height in your realm, that there was no place in it for sound doctrine, I thought it might be of service if I were in the same work both to give instruction to my countrymen, and also lay before your Majesty a Confession, from which you may learn what the doctrine is that so inflames the rage of those madmen who are this day, with fire and sword, troubling your kingdom. For I fear not to declare, that what I have here given may be regarded as a summary of the very doctrine which, they vociferate, ought to be punished with confiscation, exile, imprisonment, and flames, as well as exterminated by land and sea. [John Calvin, Institutes, Preface to Francis !, King of France]
In John Calvin’s day, real Christians in France were severely persecuted by Rome. This is one of the main reasons Calvin wrote his Institutes of the Christian Religion – as a kind of defense of the gospel of Christ and the doctrine held by Protestants. You can see in this quote from his Preface (addressed to the King of France) that enemies of Christ were raging against the preaching of the gospel and doing all they could to eradicate it from the face of the earth.
Why? I mean, we realize that there are many, many people who give no thought to God, much less to the Word of God in the Scriptures. But normally they do not rage – though we do see this raging increasing today in our own nation. What is it that these particular kind of wicked men find so enraging in the gospel?
I think I know.
The gospel is God’s power to salvation (Romans 1). It is a weapon empowered by God’s own powerful Word. And as such, it is a terrifying threat to the kingdom of darkness. The kingdom of God is breaking in among us in this fallen world, which is the realm and kingdom of Satan. And the Prince of Darkness does not relish giving up his power, his kingdom, his nations, or his subjects. So he and his servants rage with murderous violence.
Psa 2:1-3 Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? (2) The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD and against his Anointed, saying, (3) “Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us.”
The kingdom of God versus the kingdom of Satan. There it is. The ultimate power struggle by an enemy who has been defeated at the Cross, in his last throes as he approaches the day when Christ will cast him into the Lake of Fire forever.
Rev 12:12 Therefore, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to you, O earth and sea, for the devil has come down to you in great wrath, because he knows that his time is short!”
Rev 12:17 Then the dragon became furious with the woman and went off to make war on the rest of her offspring, on those who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus. And he stood on the sand of the sea.
I am convinced that much of the abuse we see today being unleashed upon Christian women (and men) in marriages is nothing less than this raging of the kingdom of darkness against the kingdom of light. In other words, it is the persecution of God’s people by agents of the enemy. Why does an abuser spouse hate his/her victim with such intensity? Why is he energized to destroy? In many ways it makes no sense. Yes, abusers are all about having power and control. Yes, they are narcissists and sociopaths. But I believe they are empowered by the devil who employs them as his instruments of working to destroy Christ’s kingdom.
Most people, including and in some ways especially the churches, are blind to what this warfare really is. There is no excuse for this blindness because the Bible tells us over and over that we are in a war. A spiritual war. And our enemy is that evil spirit, the devil, and his minions. Can you imagine trying to take Satan in for counseling in an effort to fix him? But when we do not realize this:
Eph 6:12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.
…then inevitably we are going to be using powerless and worthless weaponry. “There is a roaring lion. I think I will handle him with my BB gun.”
The wicked who lust for power and control rage against Christ and His people because they know that the Word of the Cross is going to take them down if they permit it to be announced. They have to do all they can to silence it. And that is what domestic abusers do – especially the “Christian” ones. They are liars and murderers just like their father. As Calvin put it to the King of France, the (gospel) is that doctrine which so inflames the rage of those madmen who are this day, with fire and sword, troubling your kingdom.”
To think this evil to be any less than this is to allow Satan to keep right on deceiving us.