Of Hobbits and Monks
“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.” (Eph 6:12)
In The Fellowship of the Ring, when the fellowship begins to first form at Rivendell, there is a scene when the ring of power is first presented to the rulers of the races of middle earth. Argument immediately breaks out as to which ruler and kingdom should possess the ring in hopes to use its power—ostensibly for good—to destroy Sauron and his evil reign. As the war of words escalates to the point of swords being drawn, the scene draws back and narrows onto the ring of power and how Sauron is acting through it, spiritually, speaking his spellbinding words to cause this war over the ring and its use.
The goal is obvious. Make the race of elves, dwarves, and men battle and destroy each other over the ring of power for the good, and thus distract them from the real and only war—to destroy the ring of power and with it, Sauron. Only the small, lone, weakest, and least battle worthy character breaks the escalating rate by re-focusing upon the goal;
“I will take it. I will take the Ring to Mordor, though I do not know the way [all fall silent].” – Frodo Baggins at Rivendell, The Fellowship of the Ring
This scene from The Fellowship of the Ring is a perfect picture of how Satan invisibly and spiritually is operating behind the scenes to wage war. It is a war that is real and continues palpably to this very moment. It is a war designed to distract the race of fallen mankind with his “ring of power” forged by sin and law against the promise of God so that man would rather trust in his own faith and virtue against the promise of God. This ring of power is presented to all mankind everywhere and at all times. Having the Law embedded in it—it shines like gold with the glory of Moses’ face. It projects power—the power “to know good and evil” (Gen 3:5)—and armed with this knowledge, the power to destroy evil and the devil. Indeed, to the sons and daughters of the race of Adam it “looks good for life, pleasing to the eye, and desirable to bring about wisdom and righteousness” (Gen 3:6).
So, all mankind on earth begins to argue and rage against each other as to who should wield this great and righteous power of the law to reign in peace on earth, destroy evil, and the works of evil and the devil. Instead of mythic humanoid races, however, it is religions, philosophies, secular ideals, the body politic, sects, and denominations that rage for who is the best to wield the power of the Law unto perfection and complete the work of salvation.
If we pan back to the ring of sin and law—i.e. the fruit of the tree the knowledge of good and evil—we hear it. What? The whispers of the serpent echoing through time and space to this very day fueling everything, “Did God really promise? No you will surely not die on the day you take up the righteousness of the law to know good and evil, but will indeed be like God, knowing good and evil!” (Gen 3:4).
So, the fellowship of Christ stands ever at risk from the hidden attack orchestrated by the spiritual forces of evil to fall, broken apart, becoming unformed, and degrading into war due to its lust and coveting over the “ring of” the law and its perceived power to change for the good. It is a ring that looks to be a “…most salutary doctrine and power for life, yet cannot advance man on his way to righteousness, but (as we see clearly) hinders him.” (Martin Luther Heidelberg Disputation, Thesis 1)
The goal of Satan is as obvious today as it was at the fall; to make fallen man battle and destroy each other over this kind of righteousness, and thus distract us from the real and only war that;
“…the Son of God was manifest to destroy the works of the devil.” (1 John 3:8)
But a small lone voice from a German monk sobers us and breaks through the escalating noise of rage and war to focus back upon the real and true goal:
“But I am baptized, and if I am baptized, I have the promise that I shall be saved and have eternal life, both in body and soul.”
– Martin Luther, Large Catechism on Baptism