Two men are about to head out hunting. One of them has never been hunting before. He is excited to go and shoot something. His buddy has talked about the thrill of the hunt for a while now. And this time he asked him to go. He is eagerly anticipating the feel of the cold steel in his hands – his eye looking through the scope, his finger on the trigger, and the sound of the shot. However, his anticipation is doused as he began to witness the process.
His buddy takes him to the field, fills a feeder, and they both go up and sit in the blind. His friend tells him to sit and wait. “So, when do we go hunting?” “Just be patient,” he says. A half hour passes, an hour; the anticipation is building. He is wondering when they are finally going to hunt. Again, his buddy says to wait. Then in the distance, he sees a deer. He is slowly making his way to the feeder. The friend is confused. This, is hunting? You sit and wait for the deer to come to you? Where is the fun in that? It seems rather devious. It doesn’t seem fair to the deer. They are just being lured into a trap. There is no sporting chance. Is this even legal?
This is how Satan acts. Most of us are focused on I Peter 5:8 and looking for Satan to be in attack mode all the time. Our men’s group at church recently discussed this topic. We had read our Sunday School lesson posing the question of whether Satan is to blame for our sin. Does he cause us to sin? Does he enter our hearts and minds and force us to do bad things? We have all heard the phrase, and some of us have used it, “The devil made me do it.” Well, in all honesty, there is nothing further from the truth.
Satan is NOT Responsible
We give the devil entirely too much credit. We accuse him of everything from global war to the flat tire on our way to work. The truth is that Satan has only as much power as we give him. He is on a leash and is only allowed to go as far as God permits him to, or by how much we allow him into our lives.
Take Job, for instance. We are behind-the-scenes scripture witnesses to the conversation between God and the devil. Satan knows he cannot touch one of Gods own without saying so. He challenges God concerning Job. God gives the devil certain allowances, knowing full well that Job would not sin. The Lord tells Satan in verse 12 of chapter one, “Behold, all that he has is in your hand. Only against him do not stretch out your hand.” He set limitations.
Those limitations exist around you and me. This happened a couple more times; each time God allowed a little more trouble to be inflicted upon Job. But still always having limitations the devil could not go beyond. The thing is, Job had a choice. He could blame Satan for his calamity. He could have blamed God. But Job recognized that all he had, even his very life belonged to the Lord. He says in verse 21, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”
Wow. How many of us could have that attitude?
God is NOT Responsible
Then there is the extreme. “Why did God let me sin? Why did he not protect me from it?”
Many of us want to blame someone. Eventually asking the same question, “God, why did you do this to me?” But God did not do anything. He allows things to happen in our lives, but He does not cause evil things to happen.
“Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am tempted by God’; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.” (James 1:13-15)
As you can see, it is we who are guilty. We become enticed by the food from the feeder. We see it, and it is attractive. Just like Eve in the Garden, we “see that it is good food, pleasing to the eyes, and desirable to make one wise”, so we walk up to the feeder and eat, not understanding that the hunter’s gun is poised to shoot us where we stand.
There is one thing to understand. When we see the feeder seed (the sin) in the distance, we have a choice. To approach it or to run away. Paul explains in his letter to the Corinthians that God provides an “out” for us. A specific moment where we are given a choice; go left or go right. Our job is to recognize those moments and choose the correct path.
“No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.” (I Corinthians 10:13)
All About Sin
We are all aware of the big ones. Even those who have no association with religion or the things of God know about The Ten Commandments; some can even recite many of them. But sin is more than murder, adultery, and stealing.
Compromise is Sin
Compromise is one of Christianity’s biggest stumbling blocks. We all do it. We choose the lesser of two evils. We know what the right thing to do is but choose to tweak it a bit so we can still reap a benefit of some sort. We can cut a corner at work to make an extra buck; yes, we are saving money and helping our employer but was it the right thing to do. Compromise does not always have to involve doing something bad in order to produce something good. We can also be guilty by doing good to reap something beneficial. We hide the bad with the mask of doing good.
For instance, I believe I should attend Wednesday night services at my church. But I often don’t go. I also believe that a husband and a wife should have a regular date night to build into their marriage. Lately, I have been using the “date night” excuse to not attend Wednesday night services. Yes, I am doing good by honoring my marriage, but I am compromising because I know I should be at church — the same thing with Sunday night services. I have used “family time” as the excuse not to attend. That is compromise.
Taking one thing and using it as an excuse not to do another; using a good thing to justify my actions and feel better about not doing another good thing. It is honorable to spend time with family. It is honorable to build into a marriage. But when we do it at the expense of something the Lord has laid on our heart to do, it is sin. Food in the feeder.
Not Dealing with Sin is a Sin
Anything that takes our mind off God and onto ourselves is sin. Satan can use the good things in life like family and spouse – honorable things to take our focus off Christ. But Satan also knows our weaknesses. The deep dark sins that we think no one else knows about. That secret place, that secret stash, that one area we hide from everyone…even ourselves. And if it is something that will place a wedge between you and God, he will use it.
There is one comfort; we are not alone. Prominent figures of the Bible struggled with sin.
• Eve was enticed by knowledge.
• David dealt with lust.
• Sarah did not believe in God’s power.
• Saul dealt with pride.
• Martha was a workaholic.
• Moses had an inferiority complex.
• Solomon was too wise for his own good.
• Samson had a secret.
• Mary Magdalene felt trapped by life decisions.
• Peter had a chip on his shoulder.
• Paul had an undisclosed issue; he called it a thorn in his flesh.
These men and women of the Bible all experienced choices between right and wrong. They each were posed with their own feeder filled with the very thing that would trip them up. However, Paul explains it best when faced with his weakness:
“Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore, most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore, I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:8-10)
Paul knew about his weakness. Just as many in our list probably did. Just as you probably are fully aware of yours. So, we should have a pretty good idea of how we are going to be attacked, or in this case, how we are going to be enticed away from God’s plan for our lives.
We Know How Satan Acts
We need to be constantly on guard. Keeping ourselves in check. The greatest thing is that we are aware of our weakness. We know how Satan is going to attempt to guide us off track.
“Lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices.” (2 Corinthians 2:11)
We all struggle. Not one of us is without that one area that Satan keeps laying before us — just waiting for us to get tripped up. He has filled the feeder full of that sin. We like the deer see it in the distance. We know what it is. But the difference between the deer and us is that we know it is wrong. We know it will hurt us. We know what happens when we partake of it. But we do it anyway even when that way may be a good thing, as in my example of “date night” with my wife.
“There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.” (Proverbs 14:12)
We are not Alone
We cannot get over the struggles of sin alone. We all need help. The help that comes from the Lord, help that comes from mentors, help that comes from brothers and sisters in Christ. “Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” (Ecclesiastes 4:12)
Together we can effectively deal with sin in our life. A joint effort with other strong Christians in our life. The book of Timothy is filled with instructions from Paul on how to live a Godly life within the church. As he closes his second letter, he ends with this admonition as well as encouragement about sin:
“Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.” (2 Timothy 2:12-15)
Sin will still plague you when you are a believer. Perhaps even more than an unbeliever. I mean, why would Satan bother tripping up someone who is already his? Satan knows his sentence. He knows where his story ends. And right now, his only plan is to take as many of us with him as he can.
But we have an ace in the hole; Jesus Christ. We have a source of strength. And our main source is God’s Word. Daily devotion time, prayer, attending church, fellowship with other believers and learning, discussing, promoting the word of the Lord.
“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 2:16-17)
It is also important to understand that our battle is not with the things that cause us to sin; it is not against the sin itself. We are not fighting our physical minds and bodies; we are fighting a spiritual battle against Satan and the temptations he sends our way.
“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:12)
As you go about your day, be mindful that I Peter 5:18 is still full of truth. Satan is prowling about. He is studying us, learning what our weaknesses are. Then he goes shopping to fill his feeder. But through Christ: we are aware, we can prepare, we are given a choice, and we can overcome.
When sin crouches at our door, we need to arm ourselves with the promises of Christ. We know Satan has placed a feeder out for each of us. We know what it is stocked with. And now he sits and waits for us to pass it. So, we need to be prepared.
“But watch yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a trap. For it will come upon all who dwell on the face of the whole earth. But stay awake at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are going to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.” (Luke 21:34-36)
Then when we reach the end of our days, we can stand firm and proudly proclaim Paul’s final words to Timothy.
“For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me, but also to all who have loved his appearing.” (2 Timothy 4:6-8)