This blog records my transition from the Churches of Christ to Eastern Orthodoxy.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Satan's MO

I've been thinking about the lies we typically believe that get us into trouble. And i've been thinking about how Satan tricked Eve in the Garden. It seems to me that Satan basically plays the same small hand of cards every time. The trouble is that situations and temptations are arranged such that we believe the matter to be far more complicated or convoluted than it is. But in truth, Satan's lies are very simple and very few.


Satan told Eve that she needed more. She needed to become like a god. Isn't it amazing that this conversation worked with Eve? Where did Eve live again? Paradise on earth! God had given her paradise. A perfect garden that perfectly provided for her and protected her innocence and allowed her intimate first-hand relations with God. Was she really so bad off that she needed more? Was paradise really such a hardship to bear that she really needed something better? Don't we often think to ourselves, "If only i had X, then i'd be content"?? What do you fill that X in with? Money? Houses? Spouse? Physical appearance? Eve had PARADISE and yet Satan lied to her and convinced her that what God had given her was not enough. The "X" we think we have to have in order to be content would most likely NOT make us content; if Satan can convince us once that we can't be content with what we have, surely he can do it again after we've gotten something more. The bottom line is: it's a lie. It was a lie then, and it's a lie now. Instead of seeing what we don't have, we must see what we do, and just how much and wonderful it is--and that its more than enough.


Satan's conversation with Eve started with a discussion over God's rules. "Why should you follow God's rules? Why should you think God's restrictions are good ideas? God's rules," Satan tells us, "are holding you back and fencing you in, and there's all this fantastic terrific stuff outside those fences. Not only is what God's given you not enough, but there are things far better out there for you. And God's rules are just standing in your way." It's a simple lie but we buy it all the time. Sexual restrictions or relationships that are against God's rules but we think are better than what we have now, chemical dependencies that violate His rules but we think are better for us, even just having more fun hanging out with ungodly people than with His people--you name it, we argue it in elaborate manners, but the lie is always the same and as simple. Were God's rules really holding Eve back? Again, they "fenced" her inside PARADISE; it's not like there was anything truly better out there for her, she already had the best that could be had on earth. She simply believed a lie. God leads His people to an ultimate paradise. Is what's out there really so much better? Or are you just believing a lie?


It was incredibly cunning of Satan to tell Eve "For God knows..." "God knows all this stuff i'm telling you, Eve," Satan says. "God is well aware He hasn't given you enough and that there's better stuff out there for you and if only you'd disobey Him you could have it." Satan leads us to believe that we can't trust God's motive in dealing with us--that God just doesn't truly have our best interests at heart, so its up to us to look out for them ourselves. The truth is God always, always, always has our best interests at heart. Every single one of His expectations and boundaries are absolutely in our best interests.


I've occasionally gone back and forth on whether preachers were making a bigger deal out of "Has God said you must not...?" But Satan's motive is to deceive, steal, and destroy. This inclines me to think that even Satan's opening question was a part of his game plan against Eve. We fall for this one all the time too. It's interesting that sometimes when you want something bad enough, that's exactly when you're most willing to "restudy" what the Bible says about it. "Has God really said that? Maybe i just interpretted it wrong. Maybe it actually completely allows for what i want. Maybe all those other people just wrong and didn't read it right." At base, it's not a matter of just honestly and openly seeking to know what God has said, but rather it's a tactic of planting doubt against what He has said.


Satan talked Eve into looking at that tree and its fruit with her own eyes and examining it with her own mind and judging for herself what she ought to do. To the average person in the modern world (especially the average American), that sounds like the exact right thing to do. But the truth is, i am not to be trusted when it comes to judging right and wrong. That's right. It's not a truth that my sinful pride likes to hear, but it's the truth nonetheless. I have very good reasons NOT to trust myself when it comes to judging right and wrong. To name a few: (1) i'm biased, (2) i'm a proven mistake maker, (3) there's no way for me to tell whether or not i have all the facts sufficient to make the right judgment, (4) i wasn't built or designed to be the judge of right and wrong.


Satan flat out said it, "You will not surely die." "God said you would, but He's just plain wrong." People harden their hearts all the time and buy into this lie; "Yes, i know that's what God says, but my case is just different, that's just not true in my situation, or that's just not what's going to work for me." They're all variations on the same theme. God makes mistakes. The truth is God is infallible. He will never make a mistake. This sounds somewhat innocuous sometimes, but honestly i've found a lot of comfort in reminding myself of this truth. When i'm facing difficulty, it helps to remember, "God, i don't know what's going on right now or why, but i know You're in control of the world, and You don't make mistakes." People concoct all sorts of reasons why in their special situation, God is simply mistaken. "My situation is different, and the right thing for me is to lie my way out of trouble, cheat to get what i want, keep what doesn't belong to me, have sex with someone i'm not married to, divorce my spouse, break my promise, not read the Bible or pray, etc. etc." Again, all variations on one single theme--God makes mistakes. And that's a lie.

1 comment:

Matthew said...

This is a super sermon, maybe it was one. Practical thoughts, good stuff.

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