A particularly intelligent sixth former gave me some posters he had made. A teacher less inclined to irony would have been unhappy with their tone and content, for they were demotivational. Reacting against the colourful exhortations to work hard and fulfil one’s potential displayed about the place, he created an antidote to such banal optimism. Here is some of their content:

It’s much easier to roll down a slippery slope than to waste time going up it

When opportunity knocks, don’t answer

If at first you don’t succeed, failure is ok

Don’t worry the end is near

Aim low and you’ll never be disappointed

If you want to win you must be willing to cheat

Why keep going when you can give up?

The key to life: trying only leads to failure 

Each was accompanied by stickmen diagrams or a lazily drawn computer graphic. I put them up on my office wall immediately. I’ll confess to enjoying the puzzled expressions on less imaginative colleagues’ faces.

The devil has lost all right to the redeemed people of God, but he does seek to discourage, depress and dishearten. We believers must not heed his seductive negativity but keep ourselves well-grounded in God’s word. Old Nick will tell us we’re not loved; he’ll remind us of previous sin; he’ll point out the flaws in our character. Now God will not flatter you by telling you how great you are; indeed, such praise would be an ironic alternative strategy of Satan himself. Rather, the Bible points to Christ’s excellence, purity and faithfulness. If you are found in Him, then His attributes and worth are reckoned as yours.

Against this, Satan has nothing to say.