Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, has reportedly been dating an actress and helicopter pilot named Lauren Sanchez for four months. The problem is, Bezos has been married to his wife, MacKenzie, for twenty-five years.
Yesterday, the two announced their plans to divorce. Bezos is worth $137 billion. Since the couple has no prenuptial agreement, their divorce settlement may be the largest in history.
In other news, officials have determined that a sinkhole that cost $75 million to fix was caused by human error.
Water was released too quickly into sewage pipes, eventually causing the ground to collapse into a sinkhole that grew to 100 feet wide and 250 feet long. Nearly two dozen homes in a neighborhood north of Detroit were evacuated; a major roadway was closed for almost a year for repairs.
We may not see the consequences of our sins today, but that makes them no less dangerous.
We must not be “outwitted by Satan”
The Lord warned Adam that he must not eat of the “tree of the knowledge of good and evil” for “in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” (Genesis 2:17).
However, Adam did not die on the day he ate from the forbidden fruit. In fact, he lived for a total of 930 years (Genesis 5:5). For many centuries, he might have wondered if God’s warning would come to pass.
A delay in the consequences of sin can tempt us to sin further. Many of our sins are committed in the belief that no one will know, that we will get away with this. The longer we sin without apparent consequences, the more emboldened we become.
This is because we misunderstand the nature of sin and its results.
The Hebrew word translated “die” in Genesis 2 refers to physical and spiritual death. Such death began for Adam the day of his sin. It led to his separation from God (Genesis 3:22-24) and a life of suffering in a fallen world (vv. 17-19) before culminating in his physical death.
Sin can harm the sinner in ways we don’t see. If I slowly turn down the lights in your room, your eyes will adjust to the darkness. Anything that grieves and stifles the Holy Spirit in our lives (Ephesians 4:30; 1 Thessalonians 5:19) keeps us from the abundant life Jesus intends for us (John 10:10).
In addition, God delays his judgment to give us more time to repent (2 Peter 3:9). However, the enemy wants to use our Father’s grace to entice us to sin further. We must not be “outwitted by Satan” (2 Corinthians 2:11)–sin is a spiritual malignancy that must be removed today.
More than a cartoon in red tights
We’re familiar with the biblical warning that “the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). As a result, we might miss Satan’s subtler strategies.
Our enemy also “disguises himself as an angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14) while his servants “disguise themselves as servants of righteousness” (v. 15). The devil can misuse Scripture to tempt us, as he did with Jesus in the wilderness (Matthew 4:6). He can also use the lure of money and possessions to entice us (Acts 5:3).
He adopts the strategy that fits his purposes. In the secular West, he typically works in subtle ways lest we recognize his existence and realize with Paul that “we do not wrestle against flesh and blood . . . but against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12).
Satan is glad to be underestimated as a cartoon figure in red tights. Make no mistake: he hates God’s children and wants to harm us in any way he can (cf. Revelation 12:10). When he tempts us with temporary pleasures, it’s because he intends much worse suffering as a consequence.
“The one who endures to the end will be saved”
According to the psalmist, a sinner “says in his heart, ‘God has forgotten, he has hidden his face, he will never see it’” (Psalm 10:11). He thinks that because he cannot see God, God cannot see him.
The converse can be true for believers.
Jesus warned his disciples, “You will be hated by all for my name’s sake” (Matthew 10:22a). In the midst of persecution, it’s hard to see the blessing of God.
But our Lord then promised us: “The one who endures to the end will be saved” (v. 22b). Just as Satan offers momentary pleasure that leads to long-term pain, our Lord sometimes asks us to endure temporary suffering that leads to eternal reward.
Gain without pain?
Jesus taught us to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread” (Matthew 6:11). But he also taught us to pray, “Deliver us from the evil one” (v. 13b NIV). We are familiar with praying for our physical needs every day. But our spiritual needs are just as real and critical to our souls.
What sin is Satan tempting you to commit today? Does it seem to offer gain without pain? That’s because the devil is “a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44).
For years, I have quoted the proverb: Sin will always take you further than you wanted to go, keep you longer than you wanted to stay, and cost you more than you wanted to pay.
If you’re thinking that you’re the exception, let me ask: Who is the source of that lie?
Here’s what to do with every temptation you face today: “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7). Surrender your temptation to your Father and you will be empowered to defeat your enemy.
Where is this promise relevant to your soul right now?