I don’t know that many have undertaken the task of understanding the infernal mindset–getting into the Devil’s head, so to speak. It’s really seems like a rather distasteful exercise in one sense. The two that come to mind, of course, are C.S. Lewis’ portrait of a tempter in the Screwtape Letters, and Dostoevsky’s portrayal of Mephistopheles in The Brother Karamazov. I’m sure there are others, of course. One thing that I’m quite sure I’ve never seen is what Oh Sleeper‘s did with the title track on their second album “The Son of the Morning”: put it to fabulously shredding metal:
The dominant voice is that of Satan himself, Lucifer, “The Son of the Morning”, addressing God, the “weak forgiver”:
“I am the rival. I am the one who speaks in whisper.
Hear me now, dear, weak forgiver.
Hear me now, weak forgiver. Hear me now…
Don’t send an angel to face the devil.
You’re wasting power on grace.
A maggot will always seek to feed from the grave,
where I’ll lead them and teach them to feast on the skin that defeats them, the skin they crave.”
Every night I start my rise, climbing high into the morning sky,
but soon after I lose your bride and I damn your son for stealing my light.
This world is mine…
They call me the son of the morning.
They call me the son of the morning.
I can mound all your fallen past the clouds as they roll in,
and when I do I will claim your throne through all these cowards you call your sons.
I am the lord of air and my dawn will last forever.
Go on pouring out because in the end I will have them.”
I have to confess, I’m always moved by this song. Both in the blindness that I find mirrored in my own heart, as well as the goodness of God seen through perverted eyes.
Satan here is proud, the “rival”; a fallen glory, bitter with rage at the Son who “stole” his light. The Son of the Morning is a tragic figure–deluded, the bitter has-been, though eclipsed by the True Son, is still furiously trying to reclaim what he never had. He is, as I think my friend Morgan described him, a diva who cannot accept that all creaturely glory is but a refraction of the Glory of the Son. At its heart, the infernal mindset is a refusal to acknowledge our creatureliness and delight in the proper joy of creatures, which is to reflect, to bask, in the glory of the Son. We imitate the great thief when we forget our glory is not our own–we do not sustain ourselves.
The infernal mindset is also uncomprehending of the goodness of God. God is a “weak forgiver”, according the logic of hell, that does not recognize the cosmos–reordering power of the Cross. His grace lavished on sinners, is fruitless prodigality to the Accuser of the Saints. In his eyes, we’re nothing but perverted cowards that God shamelessly and foolishly calls “sons.” I’ll admit I’ve shed tears at those moments when I realize that, apart from the grace of God, he’s right. And yet this is God’s plan–to take cowards, adopt them, and make them his courageous sons.
Satan’s is not the only voice we hear, though. The Lord is given a word to speak in the chorus:
“If you could see like me you’d see you haven’t won anything (anything)
If you could see like me you’d see, it’s by my grace that you’re breathing (breathing)
If you could see like me you’d see you haven’t won anything.
If you could see like me you’d see, your precious light is fading.
Your light is fading.”
This is the heart of the amazing delusion of Satan: it is even blind to the grace that sustains it. No, it is not special, saving grace, but more like the rain that God sends on the just and the unjust. If we could see with the eyes of God, we’d understand that it is still by his grace that the deceiver even draws breath. Thankfully, one day he will draw his last and his lies will come to an end. The Son has won an unshakable victory and the false, distorted light of the Morning star will pass from this world forever.
Of course these same words hold true for those of us who remain opposed to God, fighting him as his enemies, setting ourselves up as false suns in the universe of our affections. God graciously gives us space to breathe out defiant words. Thankfully in our case it is time to repent, draw near, and be converted from rebels to beloved children.
Soli Deo Gloria