Proverbs 6:16-19 states
16 These six things doth the Lord hate, yea, seven are an abomination unto Him:
17 a proud look, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood,
18 a heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief,
19 a false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.
Personally, I have struggled with all of these — Pride, deception, violence, depravity, destruction, duplicity and antagonism.
Some are probably more pronounced than others.
If the serpent represents danger in the chaotic unknown, then the serpent is present when discord is sown amongst the brethren. When you “play devil’s advocate” in an adversarial way, you are inviting Satan into the conversation.
You could take it literally or figuratively, the end result would be no different I think.
Words are powerful.
I have a habit of passionately arguing points. The problem with this habit is the “passionate” part. Passion is struggle. Passion is pain. Human interaction doesn’t need to be painful. It ought be comforting, full of grace.
Debate can be had. And it is critical that it be had in the interest of deeper understanding. If debate is had in the interest of mutual understanding, no discord is sown and satan is nowhere in the matter. There is no threat of violence or chaos in the search for truth. That’s because the search for truth is essentially the act of extracting order from chaos and bringing balance into the world.
I’m writing this as a reminder to myself. Speak first to understand. Listen to understand. Seek truth, not prestige or status. Seek understanding and reconciliation. This is the way of Christ, the Buddha, and universal wisdom.