Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Talking Animals

Paul is such a great patriarch, isn’t he? He loved the followers of Christ. He loved the people who he had helped convert. When he heard that a church was doing well, he was joyful. He was like a proud papa. When a church was doing poorly, though, watch out. He was like a disappointed papa. In 2 Corinthians, he tells of his fear for this congregation. 2 Corinthians 11:3, “But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by its cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ.” With the same spirit, I am afraid of this for myself and for everyone that I know. We have a mighty enemy. Help us, Lord.

The serpent deceived Eve by its cunning. Revelation 12:9, “The great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the Devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.”

I put this in, just in case there was any question who we were dealing with. How uncomfortable does it make you to hear that ‘his angels’ were thrown down with him? There are lots of them. I have not counted, but my experience this week tells me that there are many; either that, or there are a few that are really busy. But that is not all, Satan can take many forms. 2 Corinthians 11:14, “And no wonder! Even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.” Do you feel uncomfortable, yet?

He deceived Eve. How did he do it? Genesis tells us that the snake simply said that God lied to her. She would not die if she ate the fruit! That is the silliest thing that Satan had ever heard. No, no, she would be like God, knowing good and evil. And in a moment, she was able to experience good and evil. Do you think that she was uncomfortable, yet? Before this, there was no sin that she could experience. Her creation was given a boundary that let God take care of the evil, solely. Eating the fruit was opening the portal to the experience of evil. God knew what a mess it would be when we could experience it. We are not created to understand evil, to productively interact with it…do you understand it? It is cunning.

How does it play out in our lives? It plays out in our thoughts. I don’t know about your thoughts, but mine will follow anything that is shiny. My friends know to ask me very few questions, because I tend to answer all of them at the same time. I enjoy being analytical; in fact, I feel like I should don a crystal studded pocket protector at times.

I have no trouble seeing how Eve could become obsessive over the one thing in paradise that she could not have. The tree was a freak show because it was different from all the rest. I, also, have no problem seeing how her husband sat with her, speechless, and just ate what she gave him. My husband eats anything that I give him, too.

If you had no exposure to evil, you are not thinking analytically about a lying, talking snake. There could have been many talking animals in the garden. I have to believe that because she did not get caught up on the talking snake. If a snake were talking to me, I would not care what it said. I would check myself in somewhere. I certainly would not eat anything that it recommended.

Satan is no longer trying to get us to eat apples, but he is still trying to disprove God’s character. As he does with everything, he wants to veer our thoughts just slightly off course; it does not take much. He wants to make us desire other things. He tells us to look at the one tree that we cannot eat from and stare at it, while the world passes us by. The goal is to move us slightly from sincerity. When I say to God, “I trust you”, do I mean it? Do I trust Him with every moment, every desire of my heart, every tragedy that I will experience? The goal is to move us slightly from purity. Is my heart pure? When I continue to hold that harmless grudge, or when I obsess over what God has set outside of my experience, can I maintain purity of heart?

Paul had it right. Our pure and sincere devotion to Christ is the prize. Our thoughts are being fought over at all times…our mind is the battleground. The small decisions and obsessions are the victories for Satan. Enough small decisions will open doors to experience things that were never meant to be our burden, just like evil in the life of Eve. If only we had a talking snake to go along with each temptation, we could see them coming. We don’t.

2 Corinthians, 10:4b, 5, “We destroy arguments 5 and every proud obstacle raised up against the knowledge of God, and we take every thought captive to obey Christ.”

Thank you, Lord, for your sovereignty. Thank you for being our advocate in the battle for our thoughts. Lord, give us strength to have pure and sincere devotion to you. Take each thought captive and let it glorify you.

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