Satan: It will never work, you know.
Satan: That whole grace thing. People just won't buy it.
God: And your point?
Satan: You know, you just think you are being smart with this whole thing, but I know how it will play out. I know how those people will react to this whole faith thing. Even though you talk about grace, the exact opposite will happen. They will head down a slippery slope of the heart.* First, they will believe they have the absolute truth. They will become excited about this and feel empowered and justified by their grasping of it. They will get a sense of superiority because they think they know the truth. Second, they will look around and see others who don't quite measure up. They will distance themselves from all of those who don't fall into step with their view of the truth. Third, they will caricature those they see as less than righteous. Fourth, they will begin passive oppression, and then finally they will actively oppress others. They will not give them the same regard as they should. Just wait and watch. You will see this unfold right before your eyes.
God: I already have.
Satan: Aha! I was right! I knew this would take place. Your creation is just too enamored with itself. It's just too caught up in its own self-righteousness to even begin considering humility. They really don't want to get along with others. They want and have a deep seeded need to be morally superior to everyone else.
God: It's a product of their fallenness.
Satan: A product I am all to happy to exploit! And I even gleefully watch it transpire within your church. Oh yes. Yes. I enjoy watching them claim moral superiority over each other. I enjoy watching them believe they are superior to one another and then watch them draw their lines and hide behind their walls. I love it how they call each other "Fundies" and "Libtards" and condemn one another. I love how they caricature each other as "Bible Thumpers" or "Modern Day Pharisees" or "Scripturally Illiterate" or "Moralists" or "Pickers and Choosers" in what they apply to living the so-called Christian faith. Do you know how much I delight in the left/right, liberal/conservative, polarization in the church. It gives me a lot of room to operate and sow discord.
God: I know it does, but if they looked closely, they would discover that I have given them all they need to overcome this. They would discover there is no need to act in the manner they do.
Satan: Maybe you did, but they apparently don't.
God: Yes, they do, but they only give it lip service. They don't actually apply it.
Satan: One of my specialties: hypocrisy.
God: No, this isn't hypocrisy. It's actually something worse. It's truly not realizing the implications of what I have taught them.
Satan: Now what is that supposed to mean?
God: Well, when I took on flesh and dwelt among them, I made it as plain as day that no one was morally superior to another. You remember that little speech I gave on a mountainside to the crowds?
Satan: Actually, I do. I rather thought the speech delightful. At every step of the way, you made it very clear that no one was righteous. Adultery wasn't just an action. It was a thought. "Thou shalt not kill" wasn't just someone acting, but being angry at a fellow brother. Making a public spectacle of one's faith and drawing attention to one's belief--a no no. Turning the other cheek if being struck. Praying for one's enemies and blessing those who persecute you. That's a laughter. No one is going to follow through on that one!!! Don't worry, you'll provide for them. He, he, he. Look at them down there, working like ants scared to death that they'll never have enough!!! And I loved that little insertion, "Be perfect as your Heavenly Father is perfect." That was classic! No one can accomplish that one. I was actually going to hang this speech on the walls of hell to help everyone know that you had just made our job the easiest in the world. No one on the entire planet could live this thing out. No one. I thought in one fell swoop, you would add immeasurable numbers to my ranks.
God: That's what you thought.
Satan: Until you pulled that little stunt of yours.
God: Yeah, that little stunt, as you call it made all the difference in the world.
Satan: Who would have thought that Jesus, from the cross would implement this stuff to the fullest? Who would have thought that he would ask for forgiveness on behalf of those who killed him? They were committing a terrible, horrible injustice. I knew he would call down fire and brimstone. I knew he would send them straight to me, but he forgave them. My ears are still burning from the sound of those words. I dare not repeat them here.
God: You mean, "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do."
Satan: Ow! Ow! Ow! Ow! Stop it! Stop it! That's just horribly mean.
God: Of course, it is mean to you and your divisiveness. But those words set the example of what true believers adhere to. They do not head down the slippery slope of the heart because their heart carries forgiveness. They know that morally, even though they may not kill or maim or destroy or commit physical adultery...they know that even if they work tirelessly for justice...they may never smoke a cigarette or allow alcohol to cross their lips...they may never say a curse word...they still don't measure up. They know they are not perfect. They know they have not accomplished my will perfectly in their lives. They know they are in need of my forgiveness--my grace. And I never cease to give it.
Satan: You really are a sucker. You let them get away with murder.
God: Yes. I did and do. And I forgive them for it.
Satan: So why not punish them for it? Why not zap them into submission?
God: And give some the idea they are morally superior to others? Give some the idea that their lives are worth more than others because of the way they live or act? Surely, you jest. There is a reason I make the rain fall upon the just and the unjust--for in reality, they are all unjust--they all need rain, and they all need forgiveness.
Satan: Sounds hopelessly stupid in my estimation.
God: It would to you, but to those who get it--who understand it is not by any action they commit that salvation comes to them--they are more than willing to engage others they disagree with. They are more willing to cease caricatures. They avoid oppression--passive and active. Now, this certainly does not mean they do not stand up against evil, but they are less quick to label someone or something evil because they know such evil rests in them as well. When they point a finger at someone, they realize three fingers are pointing right back at them.
Satan: Well, I take great comfort in knowing there are so few who actually practice this kind of living. I take great comfort in knowing there are more who think they are righteous and above others than there are of those who live by grace. I mean, if all of those who believed in you practiced such a thing, there wouldn't be much hatred or racism or sexism or jealousy or strife or all those things I work so hard to keep going. Keep up that grace stuff. People will never, ever get it.
God: Don't be too sure of that. I created them, and I trust them.
*I am obliged to Timothy Keller in his Veritas Lecture for this slippery slope.