Perhaps we should always consider every temptation to sin as an encounter that will lead to death. There are serpents whose venom kills instantly. The enemy of our soul was first portrayed as a serpent in the garden. I don’t do snakes. When the Holy Spirit gave me this analogy this morning it resonated clearly.
It brought me back to Paul and his encounter with a deadly snake. Acts 28:2 says that the natives of Malta built a fire for the shipwrecked victims. Verse 3 says, “But when Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks and laid them on the fire, a viper came out because of the heat, and fastened on his hand.” Let us follow his example any time a temptation latches onto us. It says, “But he shook off the creature into the fire and suffered no harm.”
Proverbs 7:6-27 is a lengthly description of a harlot’s craftiness. We saw it played out with Samson and Delilah. Verse 7 says, “And I saw among the simple, I perceived among the youths, a young man devoid of understanding.” Verse 21 says, “With her enticing speech she caused him to yield…” Verse 23 says, “…he did not know it would cost his life.” Verse 27 says, “Her house is the way to hell, descending to the chamber of death.”
These two illustrations make the power and consequences of a temptation very vivid. Let us picture these the next time we are tempted. The temptation is not sin. It is when we yield that the viper fastens onto our heart. James 1:15 says, “Then when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and sin, when it is full grown, brings forth death.”
A snake bite is very toxic. The only way to neutralize the toxicity is with an anti venom. How do we neutralize a temptation? We inject truth immediately! Experiential truth is truth that is inculcated into our heart. It is a way of life. I love Psalm 119 because it describes the power of God’s word through multiple ways. Verse 11 says, “Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You.” ALL sin is against God.
Let me use bitterness as an example. Bitterness is a choice that has come from a ‘snake’ bite. Instead of shaking off the temptation to be offended, we allow the snake to remain and speak to us. We roll the whole scene around in our mind. We built a case against the one who hurt us.
Bitterness causes chemical changes. Each toxic thought drips onto neuro pathways in our brain and erodes them. When we don’t forgive in the moment, the seed germinates. It is that fast. Hebrews 12:15 says, “Looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God…”
The moment the temptation to sin comes we have God’s grace to resist. If we ignore His provision, the rest of the verse goes into effect. “…lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled.” Our sin affects those around us. Sin blocks our fellowship with the Lord. It plunges us into darkness. Our light is covered. We no longer shine for Him.
John made it really clear in 1 John 1:5. It says, “This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. Let us rise up above every temptation by neutralizing it instantly. Let us say no! and use the temptation as a reminder that sin’s bite is deadly.