Poem

Diabolos

Michael Beck Michael Beck

“I know you,” he said with a shake of his head
“Others you fool, but I have you read.
Charlatan, hypocrite, more than you seem
One day I’ll unmask you, exposing your scheme.”
At this he unfurled an exhaustive report
Of wrongs I had done and good that I ought
“Look! It is here! For the world to soon see
How far you have fallen from all you should be!
If others but knew you as well as I do
They’d think nothing of you and shake their heads too.
Go, hide your faults, put on your best face
But know I am building against you a case
Before all the world I will shame you one day
Then even your dearest will all turn away.”

Indignant he seemed as he turned to depart
Spitting these words, striking fear in my heart
“Against you I am, dedicated to this:
Your soul to bring down to the lowest abyss
You’re no better than me, in fact you are worse
You think you’ll escape, while I am accursed
My home you will share – you deserve nothing less
Proud sinner you are – afraid to confess!
You are worse than I say in the depths of your soul
Beware the world waits for the tale to be told!”

Then into the blackness my foe disappeared
Hidden, recording each action I feared.
Who could defend me against such a foe?
I cried to the heavens, where else could I go?

“Child” came a voice of a far different sort,
“Fear not to be tried before men in earth’s court.
What good will it do if all men think you true
When in heaven’s eyes you are punishment due?
And what will it harm you if death they pronounce
When at heaven’s bar, “Innocent” is announced?”

“Sir, it is this that most makes me afraid
There is truth to the charge my accuser has made
I am not innocent and above heaven knows
God’s judgment I fear far beyond hellish foes.
My record is tarnished, I know all is seen
How can I stand before God so unclean?”

“Yes,” screamed a voice from the darkness it came
“He is mine, he admits he is worthy of blame
Damn him! this sinner whose conscience demands
He is worthy of death! Turn him into my hands!”

Then to my amazement an advocate stood
Shoulder to shoulder as close as we could
Holding white garments that glowed fair and bright
For me had He come? For me would He fight?
A voice called upon Him, “What do you now plead?”
At which He presented the wounds on His feet
His hands He held up that were pierced front to back
His side He displayed, evidence of attack.

“How came all these wounds?” said the judge over all
Who gave them to you?” the voice once again called
Then words more than any I ever had heard
Caused me to tremble – a terrible word:
“He at my side, the man to me near
He raised the hammer, he thrust the spear.”

Oh now was I guilty – far more than I thought!
Compared to this crime all my others were nought
“What do you plead to the charge He has made
He says it was you who thrust through the sharp blade
Did you hold the hammer that wounded His flesh?
Are you then responsible for such a death?”

At this I protested, “No sir, It’s not me
Who put Him to death of this charge I am free.
I am guilty of much, but am clear of this debt
How could I kill one that till now I’ve not met?”
Then turning to Him who stood close by my side
The voice above beckoned “What is your reply?
He calls you a liar, your witness not true
Speak again,” said the voice, “How did he kill you?”

“The sins he took lightly, those done in the dark
The deeds he remembers, and those he forgot
All these are recorded from his youngest days
By these he thrust through me, caused hammer to raise.
But now Judge of all in your sight do I plead
To wipe his slate clean did I suffer and bleed
I died for these sins that in heaven are known
I suffered for all he could never atone
And if he’ll believe in the strength of my love
And take to himself benefit of my blood
Grant him full pardon and grace in your sight
For My sake forgive and allow him new life.”

Silence descended, not another voice spoke
Then with solemn words heaven’s judge quiet broke
“Do you believe all your advocate said,
Do you accept for your sins He has bled
Or will you still claim from His blood you are free
Guilty or innocent – what is your plea?”

“I am guilty,” I cried, “I am guilty as charged!
Forgive me my Lord! Oh my sin is enlarged.
Not until now did I know that my sin
Was so great in your eyes that it crucified Him!
I believed that He died for the sins of us all
But if none other sinned – for my sins did He fall.”

Rejoice all creation at what my soul heard
From Him on the throne who gave this wondrous word:
“Take off spotted garment that is foul in my sight
Put on shining raiment that beams fair and bright.
Your sin has been borne in the body of Him
Who died to erase every trace of your sin
Behold you are whiter, much whiter than snow
Behold in My sight nought of sin do I know
Forgiven, forgotten is all you have done
Redeemed by the blood of this innocent one.”

“I object,” screamed my foe, “You are too quick to pass
Over all he has done and the crimes he’s amassed!
I’ve watched him! I know him! He cannot fool me!
Look at him closer and see what I see.
The things I can tell you about this vile one
Will make you rethink hasty pardon he’s won.
He appears at this point to be pious for sure
But watch how he acts when he walks out the door
He’ll be back to his ways, he will not change his stripes
Despite mercy shown he’ll revert to his type.”

At this my heart trembled within did I groan
He well could be right, to the wrong I was prone
“What do you say to this charge against you?
Asked merciful judge, “Shall I count this word true?”

“Yes, it is true. I’m afraid I could fail.
My foe knows me well, every word hits the nail.
Long have I walked in a way that’s not good.
Many habits I’ve formed which I’ve never withstood.”

“What then will you do if from prison you’re freed?
On what do you trust, have you plan to succeed?
Despite what’s been said is there something in you
Which shows there is hope for the change that is due?”

“Yes” I declared, “I will give you my word
Like never before, I am ready and stirred
To do what is right in my heart and my soul
I have found a new passion to live for the goal
Of pleasing my Lord who has given to me
This burning desire and will to succeed.”

At this advocate who had stood by my side
Turned quick away as my enemy cried:
“You’ve heard it yourself! From his lips he has shown
He needs Him no more so he’s now on his own.
Let him go forth! Let him do what he said
He trusts in himself, let him fall on his head!”

I knew once again I had spoken amiss
But how by my words did my Lord I dismiss?

“Child,” came the voice from upon heaven’s throne,
“You cannot succeed in this life on your own.
No matter how much you delight from within
To stay on new path and steer clear of old sin
You cannot do right and avoid what is wrong
Apart from my Son, you are weak and not strong.
He is your hope, look upon Him always
Only through Him will you walk all your days
In triumph and freedom, fulfilling the call
In tests yet to come where alone you would fall
Remember each moment the cross where He died
And know it was there that He fully supplied
Salvation from more than your punishment due
But exit from that which had always stopped you.”

“Lord,” I cried out, “It is this which I want!
Too long have I been at the end of the taunt
That I didn’t have it, that I couldn’t do
What others found easy was not for me too.
Tell me the secret! What sin has me bound?
If lust take it from me; if pride bring it down.
I know you can see me both inside and out
Please get to the bottom of what I’m about.”

Then out of the shadows came one who impressed
With aura surrounding in bright raiment dressed
Moved by my yearning he stood by my side
Requesting that I over time should be tried
“Seeing he wants to be free from his past
And hearing his cry to be holy at last
I think we should give him a chance to improve
It takes quite awhile to get into the groove
I’ll give him some pointers, I’ll show him some ways
In which to make progress along such a maze
I know it’s not easy, to him it’s all new
But I have long tutored a pilgrim or two.
He’ll make a good pupil, he’s made a good start
I’ll further intruct him to know his true heart
In stages I’ll take him, his sins will retreat
We’ll push out the old as the good will increase.
And we will be careful each step of the way
To include the Savior, he should have some say.”

At this I grew happy to have such an aide
Who’d take me along a tried path he had laid:
“I’m willing to follow this way to my goal
As long as it takes I just want to be whole.
I know to be holy and finally free
From sin that is ancient I must fervent be
The roots of my problems I know to be deep
This climb to perfecton is certainly steep
But if you will but grant me some time to apply
The precepts before me I’ll valiantly try
To whittle away at the sin that you hate
To daily make progress and see it abate.
A way I now have that is skillfully planned
To slay the old me with a tutor at hand.
Armed with this mind to do battle each day
I hope to see sin slowly lose all its sway
Others less desperate may balk at the height
But I am determined to stay in the fight!
And if at the end of the day I fall short
I’ll get up again and again I’ll report
I’ll sit at the feet of the ones who know more
Whose wisdom is old and whose holiness sure.”

Then just when I thought judge above would be pleased
With pledge I had made and with path I had seized
A shout that shook heaven rang out through the air:
“Take off his garment! He now must be bare!
Gift he received, but gift he has left
Faith once believed is no longer kept.”

“Lord!” I implored, “What is this that I’ve done?
I’ve only determined to be with You one.
To know You and love You alone is my goal
I don’t understand how I’m leaving Your fold
I thought it would please You that I was sincere
I thought by my climb I would make it more clear
That I’m not like the rest who don’t care to be pure
That I cannot be idle when sin’s at the door
But because I am willing to work night and day
To conquer my flesh and to put sin away
For this You would take from me what was Your gift
And sudddenly sever and cast me adrift.
Of all, it is this that has left me confused
That in seeking what’s right I again stand accused.”

Then again at my side the advocate stood
Shoulder to shoulder as close as we could
Holding that garment that glowed fair and bright
Raiment I wore that before made me right:
“I beg for this lamb who has wandered away
His foe is so subtle who led him astray
How great is the crowd who start off in this race
Yet slowly bewitched tumble out of My grace
Beginning in faith with their eyes upon Me
Then fearing themselves they are ready to be
Seduced by a way and the wisdom of man
That boasts of results and a heavenly plan
To conquer the sin that they claim still remains
To finish the job that was done through My pains.
Point him again to the cross where he died
Show him more deeply the grace it supplied
And if he believes, place him back on the track
My raiment restore, for he nothing shall lack.”

“What do you say to the message you’ve heard?
Do you believe or still seek better word?”

“Yes I believe,” I cried out in distress,
“But I am so troubled I have to confess.
The way I was going gave me peace of mind
It seemed a good path that was giving me time
I have to be honest I was quite enthused
To work on myself in a holiness school
I grasped the main concepts, it made sense to me
It fit what I felt, gave me hope to be free.
But now I am told that I’ve wandered away
I want to believe, but I fear I won’t stay.
The way I was going I felt I could keep
But now I am plagued by these questons so deep:
How am I dead when I feel so alive?
How has sin left when within me it thrives?
How can I rest when I know I should work?
How do I sleep when an enemy lurks?
How am I whole with so much to repair?
How do I stop when I feel I’m not there?
Lord, You must know that I want to believe
Open my eyes and my questions relieve!”

At that from the throne of the Father above
Came a light that revealed the extent of His love
The cross which I claimed was the way to be free
And the blood I had thought had meant so much to me
I saw in a light that caused striving to cease,
Unburdened my soul, and brought wonderful peace.
“Child, if you labor, then labor to this
To enter my Sabbath where work must desist
To make yourself righteous, to get to a place
Where sin you have conquered by gaining My grace.
In Christ the war’s over, the victory’s won.
The grace has been given, it’s already done.
What will you add to the work of His cross?
What must you do when your efforts are dross?
He came and He died to set prisoners free
Who were bound to the bad and unable to be
By every fine effort and wish to be good
The people I want and the people that should
Obey Me always and not some of the time
Do all I that ask and not what they think fine.
The hope of this calling is out of your reach
If you will not reckon my sentence on each:
“All flesh is as grass that will wither away
Their goodness a flower with beauty a day”
Tell me what flesh do you wish to be gone:
The flesh that is ugly and wants to do wrong?
Yet do you admire that flesh which is fair?
Would you be willing from death to it spare?
I tell you that all born of flesh are but flesh
Who cannot abide at all times and all tests
Not one has the goods or is up to the task
Of pleasing Me always in all that I ask
Therefore on the cross there was made a full end
To it’s death both the good and the bad did I send.”

Then arm of the Lord was revealed with such might
That flesh and its beauty were gone from my sight
What had I done to put sin away?
Nothing but reckon that I was passé
My struggle to get to the bottom of sin
Was a battle I knew that I never could win
Man can kill man and finish the fight
But flesh can’t kill flesh though it battle all night
Did this mean the towel I now had thrown in
Resigned to a life of inevitable sin?
No! God forbid! To establish God’s law
I died with my Christ and new victory saw.
A keener sharp knife had to work on my heart
And faith in His work on the cross was my part.

“Who has believed the report that we gave?”
Came the voice that I knew had been mighty to save
“I now believe, I don’t doubt it is done
You on the cross have my victory won.
I by slow steps do not hope to be free
I by hard work will not holiness see.
You said, “It’s finished” and I know it’s true
Sin’s reign is over and glory’s in view
Every self effort to put sin to death
All of men’s methods to crucify flesh
I am now dead to, I’m taking a rest
I am now ready to stand every test
For I was not hindered by one enemy
The other, more crafty, was little old me.”

Then to my delight came the word I had sought:
“Clothe him again in the garment You bought.”

With tears of great joy on my back He replaced
The raiment I wore and the hope I erased
More precious it was than I knew from before
For now His grace means to me oh so much more
My triumph o’er sin was not tied to myself
But only His cross and beside it none else
My glory is great but in no scheme of man
My God has delivered me by His own hand
Never again will I get in a way
That promises gold but only gives hay
Never again will I be deceived
To work dawn till dusk for what God gives for free
Never again will I say that I’m not
All He declares and that says quite a lot!
I’m holy and righteous; I’m clean and I’m free
I’m remade in the image of Christ who’s in me.
For in Him the sentence has come from God’s throne
No matter what slander on me would be thrown
I am what I am, says I AM, by His grace
No matter who says I am still a disgrace
My feelings don’t matter, His truth is my shield
And to the Accuser no more will I yield.


Michael Beck is a pastor in New York City and the main author on Signpost. Receive a daily devotional he publishes every morning via email.