Saturday, August 7, 2010

Truth or Consequences

We have a chief priest who is able to sympathize with our weaknesses. He was tempted in every way that we are, but he didn’t sin.

-- Hebrews 4:15

It sounds like something found deep in the jungles of Africa, the Amazon rainforest or maybe even on another planet. It’s a carnivorous plant called the Venus fly trap that’s found only in the bogs of North and South Carolina near Wilmington.

Maybe carnivorous is a bit misleading; Venus fly traps don’t catch and feed on squirrels or small rodents. But they do feast on flies and other insects. This remarkable plant’s secret lies in its attractive colors and outstretched, nectar-scented pads. When an unsuspecting insect lands on the plant, sensors ready its trap to shut. But by intelligent design, this takes more than a single motion. It’s only after a second sensor activates that the Venus fly trap snares its winged victim within 0.1 seconds! (The plant’s double sensor mechanism helps prevent accidental activations from wind, raindrops or fallen leaves.) Powerful fluids then fill the sprung trap, which dissolve the prey into usable nutrients within about 10 days. The cycle later resumes with the Venus fly trap re-opening its pads to repeat the lethal deception.

Everyone – including Christ-followers – can learn one or two things from the Venus fly trap. But maybe it’s really more about learning from the hapless fly.

God seeks to grow and strengthen our spiritual lives by putting us through trials and tests to make us more like Him. On the other hand, it’s the devil who seeks to destroy our spirit by tempting us to sin against God and His will for us. The devil begins his attack by latching onto our natural desires and weaknesses. We then begin to minimize the temptation’s risks while devising intricate plans for yielding to the enticement. Unfortunately, it’s often too late by this point. Like a cancer, that seemingly innocent temptation has metastasized into outright disobedience to God. And the trap is sprung, leading to the dire consequences of spiritual – or even physical – death.

No stranger to temptation and sin, the apostle Peter warned the early followers of Jesus about the dangers that stalked them.

"Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour,” he wrote in 1 Peter. “Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.”
The fact is that temptations are part of the human experience. And like the Venus fly trap, they’re incredibly appealing with little hint of danger. So to resist them successfully, we need to understand their source – the devil – the one called the father of lies. We must also visualize the consequences of our contemplated actions. And then there’s the most important step of all:

“Surrender to God!” urges James, the brother of Jesus. “Resist the devil, and he will run from you.”

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