Monday, September 19, 2011

"Roses, With Thorns"

(Thanks to Sterling for inspiration on this one)

    For Eve, the temptation did not look like temptation.

    "When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat" (Genesis 3:6).

    Many years ago, I raised the question in a Bible study, "How does Satan seek to deceive us?"  A quiet, thoughtful boy (now a quiet, thoughtful man) answered with the best insight in the matter I've ever heard, before or since.  "He makes good things seem bad, and bad things seem good."  Case closed, at least in the most basic sense of defining how our enemy works to divert and distract us.

    The tree of knowledge of good and evil in Eden was a bad thing, a danger which God forbade.  Satan, however, allured Eve by pointing out the beauty, pleasure and spiritual allure of the tree.  "Good for food... pleasant to the eyes... a tree to be desired to make one wise" - it all seemed so right, so beneficial, and even so religious.  It seemed as a rose without a thorn, despite God's warning.  Sadly, the thorn did exist, it was poisoned, and when Adam partook through Eve, the human race was cast into a tomb of spiritual and moral abyss of death - "in Adam all die" (I Corinthians 15:22).

    Let us be sure that our spiritual enemies are still active, offering roses with thorns, as it were.  Things fragrant, things beautiful, things that seem to stimulate and benefit our hearts, minds and lives - the devil points to them with subtle reasoning and attraction.  What are such deceiving roses in your life and mine?  God alone can answer that for each of us.  Indeed, some roses are the thornless real thing, the Rose of Sharon, that is, the Lord Jesus Christ (Song of Solomon 2:1).  But some are not.  Some are devilish imitations, diversions and distractions, or as the Apostle Paul warned, some are "another Jesus... another spirit... another Gospel" (II Corinthians 11:4).

    We must increasingly know our Lord and His Word if we are to avoid identifying the counterfeit as the real.  Scripture commands us to "try (test) the spirits, whether they be of of God" (I John 4:1).  One thing is certain: if we do not recognize that malevolent enemies seek to deceive us, we will be deceived.  We live on a spiritual battleground whereupon truth and error vie for our attention and devotion.  The former is far greater than the latter, and will ultimately reign supreme in God's universe.  At present, however consequential skirmishes can be lost, resulting in the weakening of our experience of Christ.  May God mercifully protect us and correct us as we seek the true and living Rose that bears no thorn because He wore a crown of thorns to deliver us from darkness to light.

"Such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness."
(II Corinthians 11:13-15)

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