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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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If you don't have an inkwell handy ...

One bit of Luther lore that many relish is the tale of the Reformer’s tossing his inkwell at the devil, who was an unwelcome visitor to him during his confinement in Wartburg Castle, Wittenberg, Germany. You’ll even be shown the small room where the encounter supposedly happened when you’re on a tour. Though finding the telltale ink blot on the wall is iffy.

We do know, however, that Martin Luther did have what can only be called a healthy respect for the devil and all his ways. It’s in that tradition that The Lutheran Handbook (pages 126-127; Augsburg Fortress, 2005; www.augsburgfortress.org) includes the following instructions:

How to banish the devil from your presence

Since God loved the flesh so much as to redeem it by becoming flesh, Martin Luther believed that the devil, by contrast, hated the flesh. Bodily acts, therefore, hold the power to send the devil packing. While the existence of a "personal” devil—a physical entity embodying pure evil—is part of the Christian tradition, Lutherans tend to withhold final judgment on specifics. Still, it’s good to be prepared.

1. Laugh out loud.
Laughter is abhorrent to the devil and should be indulged in frequently.

2. Make the sign of the cross.
The devil hates the cross because that is where God’s love for you is most evident.

3. Seek the company of other believers.
Play games with children, attend worship, join a prayer team, host a dinner party, or locate a Bible study. Solitude can provide the devil an opportunity.

4. Serve those who have less than you.
Resolve to volunteer your time to help those less fortunate than you. The devil is thwarted by the love of Christ in action.

5. Confess your sins.
The devil is attracted to a guilty conscience. Confession clears the conscience and emboldens the believer.

6. Break wind.
The devil (along with anyone else in the room) might well leave you alone. (This was one of Martin Luther’s favorites.)

7. Consider what you might be doing to invite the devil into your life.
We invite the devil into our lives when our actions and values no longer center on Christ.


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