Halloween is not too haunted for true saints. This is no night for God’s “holy ones” to run and hide, but rise up and revel in the power of our sovereign Christ. This is not the devil’s day, but ours. No concessions, no treaties, no retreat. No call to fear, but an invitation to feast.
Originally “All Hallows’ Eve” may have been an annual commemoration of the seemingly super-holy, the Roman “saints” (Latin hallows, “holy ones”). But under God’s kind providence, a monk named Martin came to our rescue when he went trick-or-treating on October 31, 1517, at the church door in Wittenberg. Eventually Luther labored with a horde of others to liberate God’s people from a host of medieval misconceptions — including the assumption that only some, not all, of Christ’s people are “saints” (Romans 1:7; 1 Corinthians 1:2; and 2 Corinthians 1:1).
“Halloween is not the devil’s day, but ours.”
Claiming All Hallows’ Eve truly belongs to believers does not mean we celebrate death or darkness. Far from it. We celebrate our Savior’s victory over death and over everything demonic. We mark Christ’s triumph, through death, over sin and Satan. “Through death he . . . destroy[ed] the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil” (Hebrews 2:14).
As Christians, with open Bibles, we have a theology tall enough and thick enough for every ounce of Halloween, and every other day of the year. This is not a night to moan and fret, but to rejoice with confident smiles and treats in hand. And with open ears because the harvest is ripe for rehearsing precious truths — or teaching them for the first time — about the undaunted dominion of Christ and what it means for us as his people.
So, Christian neighbors, join me in leading our homes and churches out of fear and into joy. The harvest is great, and Halloween is a striking foil — for teaching our kids, and reminding ourselves — of who we are in Christ.
1. We Are a Victorious People
Start with Jesus and his victory. All things were created in him, through him, and for him — “in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities” (Colossians 1:16). And at the cross, God “disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him” (Colossians 2:15). Jesus reigns supreme over Satan and every demon, both by creation and by the cross. He commands unclean spirits and they obey him (Mark 1:27). He is Lord even over the mental movements of Satan’s minions (Revelation 17:17).
First we marvel at our Champion, and then that he would have us join him in his great victory. Not only did he crush Satan’s skull at Golgotha, but he makes us a victorious people, to stomp with him. We put our own feet on the skull. “The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet” (Romans 16:20).
“Christians with open Bibles have a theology tall enough and thick enough for every ounce of Halloween.”
To be a Christian emphatically does not mean that we don’t suffer, face persecution, or even find ourselves to be the objects of demonic attack in this life. But it does mean we will win (Revelation 3:21), not in our own strength, but in the power of God’s Spirit. The decisive battle has been won. The final match is just a matter of time.
We are a victorious people in the world’s single most important war and party with the apostle Paul,
“Death is swallowed up in victory.” “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 15:54–57)
2. We Are a Courageous People
Because we know victory is assuredly ours in Christ, we can be of good courage. Not only has our Sovereign dealt Satan the deathblow, but he does not leave us to fight alone. He promises to be with us (Matthew 18:20), and says to his covenant people, “Take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
Because Jesus has won, and is with us, we don’t flee from the devil, but take Christ up on his promise. “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7). We know that “he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4), and so we boldly defy our adversary on precisely the night when he would most like for us to cower and take cover.
The devil may rage, his lackeys may plot, but “he who sits in the heavens laughs” (Psalm 2:1, 4), and invites us to smile confidently with him.
3. We Are a People on Mission
In Christ, we are not a cloistered, cowering people, perpetually on the defensive. Jesus gives us a mission: “Make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19). We are no longer of this world, but sent into this world, with the backing of the King’s boundless authority (Matthew 28:18), on history’s great offensive, thrashing joyfully against the darkness. As Jesus prayed to his Father about his saints,
“I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world.” (John 17:15–18)
“Let’s boldly defy our adversary on precisely the night when he would most like for us to cower.”
Our great high priest doesn’t pray for our removal from the world, but for our reaching of it — rescuing fellow sinners from “the god of this world [who] has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:4). Our mission is to free our captive neighbors and coworkers, family and friends, who are “following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience” (Ephesians 2:2).
We pray with Paul “that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel . . . that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak” (Ephesians 6:19–20).
4. We Are an Intentional People
But being on mission doesn’t mean being naïve. Precisely the opposite. The commission calls us to intentionality and vigilance for the sake of the cause. “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). God has given us a manual for war, “so that we would not be outwitted by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his designs” (2 Corinthians 2:11).
And in all our care and consciousness, we lean against the backstop of Christ’s pledge: “I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18). We buy candy, turn on porch lights, make apple cider, and bring the warmth of a happy face into an otherwise cold night because we know he has promised “this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come” (Matthew 24:14).
5. We Are a Generous People
Finally, by being Jesus’s people, we are becoming increasingly generous people. He fills our hearts and opens our hands. Even on this night, we “remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive’” (Acts 20:35). We have resolved to make the sacrifice to give “not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7).
Mark this: unbelieving humans are not our enemies. The devil and his demons are the foe. “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” (Ephesians 6:12).
“Chase away the darkness by turning on our porch lights and giving out the best of treats.”
We look upon the nastiest costumes and vilest of revelers with the mind and heart of Christ. “When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd” (Matthew 9:36). And we chase away the darkness by turning on our porch lights and giving out the best of treats, not the stingiest.
Jesus came to destroy Satan, all his works, and all his ways (1 John 3:8). He has delivered “all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery” (Hebrews 2:15). Be strong in him and in the strength of his might (Ephesians 6:10), and on this All Hallows’ Eve, take your stand against the schemes of the devil (Ephesians 6:11).
After all, this is our night.