Warning Signs give us advanced notice of possible consequence if we fail to heed the sign’s message. And often we find ourselves concerned about the physical signs, making plans in our minds of how to escape the consequence of bodily and financial harm, but ignoring the spiritual signs which have grave consequences. So because we ignore the spiritual signs, we find ourselves being bitten time and time again by the meanest junkyard dog around – Satan, who not only wants to bite you, but to devour you.
But we don’t have to be bitten by him. We can escape his bite by knowing how he operates – how he lures us in for the bite, which he hopes will infect us, mame us, and destroy us.
I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of all the wounds and scars from bites I’ve taken simply because I didn’t prepare myself to see the warning signs. So let’s discuss what to be looking for – how Satan operates – so we can avoid at all costs another bite.
And to do that we will look at how the dog first attacked humankind when he tempted Eve.
Genesis 3: 1-7 gives us a great picture of how the dog Satan works in trying to lure us in for the bite.
The first warning sign that Satan is trying to bite you is he has conversation with you. He begins to have dialogue with you in your mind. It’s like the old cartoons where the writers gave a great portrayal of this conflict with an angel speaking into one ear and the devil speaking into the other. It creates a great moral dilemma because the dialogue creates confusion and doubt.
We can know Satan is coming in for the bite when we begin justifying in our minds something that we know is wrong to be okay.
So what did that conversation look like with Eve, and what can we learn from it that will save us from being lured into Satan’s attack zone? Now keep in mind that Satan can bite you in many ways, and sometimes it takes no effort if he sees a weakness – vulnerability, but he generally will try to lure you in first with these tactics.
Satan says to Eve, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden?’”
That is Satan’s first tactic of luring you in for the bite – the questioning, the challenging of God’s Word – “Did God really say…” Can he get you to doubt what you have heard, what you know as true? Can he get you wondering if you heard God correctly?
Think of Charles Darwin, the scientist who gave humankind the Theory of Evolution for our existence. He knew the story of creation and heard the Gospel throughout his childhood, yet one day he heard in his head this thought, “Did God really create? Is there really a God? “ And Satan continues to use this bite to impact countless generations that there is no God – that God is a figment of our imagination and that only the weak need Him.
Eve responds, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the Garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the Garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’”
Did Eve really understand God’s command regarding the tree of knowledge of good and evil? No, because what did God really say? He said not to eat of this tree, but never said anything about touching its fruit. Satan had her dialoguing and now she began to question what God really did say.
Satan then says to Eve, “You will not surely die.”
This is Satan’s second tactic of luring you in for the bite – the denial of God’s word – “God didn’t mean….” So even when you get part of God’s truth right, Satan will take that part and twist it. He will take the part that is truth and make a false statement from it.
God did say they would die if they ate of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. But because Satan had Eve questioning what she knew and heard, he now had her in a position assuring her that all would be okay if she disobeyed – God won’t follow through on what he said.
Satan has done this quite well in our culture. He has a lot of people believing that God is not to be feared and won’t judge. People have bought into the ideas that as long as you are a good person, as long as you believe in God, as long as you even state you believe in Jesus, God will not judge you to Hell.
But if you read the Bible in its context – its purpose – you see that even though God is very loving, He stills hates sin and rebellion. You see that no one makes it into Heaven on merit, but solely on His grace and mercy offered through His Son’s sacrifice, and this can only be accepted through humility and repentance. You see that those who call upon the name of Jesus as Savior take on His very nature because they are grafted into Him, bearing His fruit. You see that those in Christ Jesus persevere in the faith until the end of their mortal lives.
Finally, Satan concludes, “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
This is Satan’s third tactic of luring you in for the bite – to puff you up with pride – to get you to rely on your own power and be self-sufficient– “You don’t need God. You can be like Him.” Satan puffs people up by making them feel self-sufficient. He puffs them up by making them feel they can understand all situations and can handle these situations in their own strength.
Yet we know the result of this lure – “pride comes before the fall.”
When we feel that we are self-sufficient, with no need for God, we find ourselves thinking we are the greatest thing to ever come along – I think it is called narcissism. And so the narcissist replaces God in his/her life with something else, science, medicine, sexuality and sensuality, substances, etc. The narcissist believes these are the answers to the conversation of good and evil going on in their heads. The narcissist finds his/her satisfaction in fulfilling desires, and so this satisfaction becomes the good in his/her life.
Eve wanted to be like God, and this lure is the one that got her bit. But it took the first two to set her up for the third. Satan got her in a dialogue where he knew she wasn’t grounded, and he kept coming at her until he could get a chance to bite her. He got her to misquote God’s word by adding to it. He got her to relax and deny God – to believe that God would not do what He said He would do. And he built up her ego by telling her she could be like God – that she could have His wisdom.
And so, “When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.”
So in conclusion, if there was ever a battle raging in your mind between good and evil – between what God desires and what you want – and you justified your desire over His, then you have been bitten. If there is a battle raging in you right now over good and evil, then know you are being lured into a place for attack and you still have time to heed the sign. And if there is a battle raging in you right now over good and evil, and you heed the sign by doing what God desires, then you have used your sword of faith to wound the dog and he will flee.
Satan’s only power over you is when you try to argue/debate/dialogue with him in your strength. He actually knows God’s word better than you. He just doesn’t live it.
His lure comes in trying to trip you up: in challenging God’s word to see if you know it, in denying God’s word that He will follow through on what He has said, and in making you feel proud and self-sufficient.
Be aware of this. Go on the offensive. Be real about what you are facing or have faced in your internal battles. And learn to rely solely on God’s strength and the strength of others to help you win these battles.