"Inclined Toward Evil"
September 18, 2012
Do not let my heart incline to any evil, to busy myself with wicked deeds in company with men who work iniquity, and let me not eat of their delicacies! Psalm 141:4
How many times has someone forced you to break the law?
Not many, I imagine. Still, that is what happened to a Los Angeles bank manager. Two thieves broke into the woman's home, strapped a bomb on her, and said she could either empty out her bank's vault, or they would scatter her remains all over Los Angeles County.
The manager did as she was ordered.
She opened her bank, threw the cash into a bag, and tossed the bag out the door. The thieves made their getaway, with an undisclosed amount of money.
After the thieves were gone, the sheriff's arson and explosives team removed the bomb and set it off in a safe location.
Yes, it is one of the few times I've ever seen where someone had to be forced to break the law.
Honesty forces us to confess that the devil usually doesn't have to work that hard to get us to do something wrong. In the case of Adam and Eve, he merely planted an idea and showed our first ancestors some fruit, which appeared good to eat. King David's wandering eye was seduced by the vision of a bathing beauty, and Judas sold his Master for 30 pieces of silver.
As I look back on my life, I could try to blame many of the things I've done wrong on the incessant urgings of the devil. I could say I held out long and hard before I -- in a moment of weakness -- succumbed to Satan's suggestions.
Yes, we could say that, but it would be stretching the truth. Satan usually doesn't have to put in a lot of overtime to get us to do something wrong. All he does is examine the yearnings of our heart and play to our weaknesses.
We who have been cursed with a sinful nature usually take care of the rest.
The only exception to that rule was Jesus, who was tempted with the most exquisite seductions. "Are you hungry?" Satan asked, "Then feed Yourself. Would You like to avoid all that nasty suffering which is coming?" Satan wondered. "If so, then throw Yourself off the temple heights, float to the ground, and instantly be worshipped. Do you wish to rule the world?" Satan offered, "Then just worship me." (See Matthew 4:1-11.)
Satan made it easy for Jesus to sin. Thankfully for us, Jesus always declined. He resisted when we would have responded. He declined in areas where we would have been inclined. Because Jesus remained faithful and holy, He was able to carry our sins to the cross.
After all, He had none of His own.
Isaiah said it better. "All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned -- every one -- to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. He was ... cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgressions of my people" (see Isaiah 53:6-8).
THE PRAYER: Dear Jesus, I give thanks that not even Satan could seduce You to sin. So that I might be forgiven, You resisted all temptations. So that You might be honored, may I learn to try and do the same. In Your Name. Amen.
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries