Whoever is wise, let him understand these things; whoever is discerning, let him know them; for the ways of the LORD are right, and the upright walk in them, but transgressors stumble in them. Hosea 14:9
The devil very seldom tempts people to sin by saying, "Here is a really bad idea, which is going to get you into a lot of trouble."
Nope, the father of lies usually whispers into our ears: "I'm giving you a golden opportunity here. Try it, and I promise you're going to enjoy the results."
Now to prove the truth of those statements we could take a look at Genesis where the devil successfully tempted Adam and Eve by telling them his way was better than God's way. Yes, we could look at Adam and Eve, or we could reference the story of Oregon's Sadie Renee Johnson. Johnson is a compassionate 23-year-old woman who cares deeply for her firefighter friends. Knowing they were bored with having nothing to do, she set a small fire.
It was her intention the fire be small and be put out in a day or two.
Well, Johnson's good intentions got out of hand -- as did her forest fire. The Sunnyside Turnoff Fire caused dozens of homes to be evacuated, covered 80 square miles, took nine days to contain and two months to extinguish. The bill for Johnson's fire came in at $7.9 million.
When Johnson was brought to trial, the Bureau of Indian Affairs -- the organization which had to pay that bill -- wanted to see her go to jail for five years and pay the full price of the blaze. It also suggested the judge might want to throw Johnson into prison indefinitely if she willfully failed to make restitution.
That, my friends, is some serious punishment for listening to the devil who said, "I'm giving you a golden opportunity. Follow me and you will love what's going to happen."
Read through Scripture and you will find Johnson is hardly alone in listening to Satan's suggestions. King David thought a little glimpse of Bathsheba wasn't such a bad idea; Achan believed taking a bit of gold and silver from fallen Jericho couldn't cause any problems, and Ananias and Sapphira figured lying to the Lord was an okay thing to do.
They were wrong. Just as we are wrong when we think Satan's suggestions can trump the Lord, His Law, and His love. Such a belief always, that's always, leads to catastrophe.
Far better for God's people to follow God's plan.
Following God's plan is what Jesus did, and because He followed God's plan perfectly all who believe on the crucified and risen Christ are given forgiveness and salvation. Now, as blessed recipients of the Lord's manifold blessings, we are given the opportunity to live a thankful life that glorifies God by listening and believing Him rather than the devil.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, may I be given the wisdom and the faith to trust You. May I reject Satan who suggests his ways are good and best for us. This I ask in the Name of my risen Redeemer. Amen.
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In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries