Wednesday, April 23, 2008

There’s a RATTLESNAKE in my car

As I was teaching about temptation and sin yesterday during our staff meeting, a thought came into my mind, and I can't get away from it. I would like to share it with you today. I asked Beth, our office secretary, if she were driving down the road and all of a sudden heard the "rattle" of a rattlesnake, and realized that there was a rattlesnake in her car, what she would do. She said, "I would stop the car and get out of it and wouldn't get back in until the snake was gone." Everyone in the meeting agreed. I then asked, "what if you couldn't find the snake, and you had to get back into the car. What if over the next few days you got so used to the rattle of the snake and sight of the snake in your car, that after a little while it didn't bother you to have a rattlesnake in your car?" Everyone said "that wouldn't happen" and I said that for many Christian people it already had. What do I mean? Let me explain.

Genesis 3:1-5 Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, "Did God really say, 'You must not eat from any tree in the garden'?" (2) The woman said to the serpent, "We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, (3) 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.'" (4) "You will not surely die," the serpent said to the woman. (5) "For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil."

Our sin always causes something to die, whether it be physical, emotional or spiritual. God's word tells us that the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23). It is inescapable, yet people continue to believe the lies that the consequences of their sin won't be that bad. For example, back in Eden, Satan told Eve that she wouldn't actually die like God said and that the forbidden fruit would actually help her be more like God. When Eve sinned, her innocence died, her marital harmony died, her relationship with God died and her peace died (Genesis 3:12-16).

Likewise, Satan and his forces of evil continue to downplay the death that will occur in our lives if we sin. But every time we sin, it causes something to die. I heard recently of a Mom and Dad that took their ten year old son to a restaurant of scantily clad ladies. When they did, a part of their little boy's innocence DIED. Sin does that…it ALWAYS causes something to die. Sin always takes you farther than you want to go, cost you more than you want to pay, and keeps you longer than you meant to stay.

Hebrews 11:24-25 By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter, (25) choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin.

Satan always shows the pleasure of sin, and tries to keep the pain of sin from your sight. He makes the adulterous affair seem like so much fun, but keeps the potential destruction of your family from your sight and mind. My friends, you may enjoy the pleasure of your sin for a season, but mark it down…pain is just around the corner because sin always causes something to die. Where does the rattlesnake come in? At first the rattle of the snake is very concerning and offensive. It causes us to want to run as far away from it as possible. However, if we don't take care of removing the snake from our car, after a little while of the snake rattling in our car, and we survived it without dying, then we get used to the rattle and it doesn't bother us anymore. In fact, we convince ourselves that the rattlesnake isn't nearly as bad as what some people think, because we have had him in our car for so long and we are still doing ok. So, we determine to make a pet out of it. We are convinced that the rattlesnake has just been misunderstood down through the years. Before long, the snake is wrapped around our necks as we drive our car down the road. What we don't realize is that the snake is slowly but surely bringing death to our lives with his venom. We just don't feel the effects or the bite of the snake because he is so deceptive and such a charmer.

This snake is symbolic of sin in our lives. At first sin has a shocking effect on us and we run as fast as we can from it. The "rattle" is obvious and the potential danger is something we are well aware of. However, if we don't take care of the sin through confession and repentance, we will begin to justify the sin, and actually embrace it. It will wrap itself around "our necks" as it slowly but surely brings death to our lives with its venom. We just don't feel the effects or the bite of sin because it is so deceptive and such a charmer.

The church (God's people) as a whole has allowed the rattlesnake of sin to take up residence in our lives for so long and we have experienced so much DEATH in our relationships that many are weak and anemic spiritually. We don't want to talk about sin anymore, and we don't want anyone to preach about sin anymore. Just give me a preacher who will get on TV and give me nothing but good news and how well that I am doing while the rattlesnake slowly takes my life from me. We must wake up.

Temptations appeal to our primary sin tendencies of lust of the eyes, lust of the flesh and the pride of life (1 John 2:15-16). Since he cannot force us to sin, Satan tries to persuade us to sin through clever lies, tailor-made for our specific weaknesses. For example, Satan appealed to Eve's desire for wisdom with the notion that she could be like God if she ate the fruit. Her desire for wisdom and the attractive appearance of the fruit was the winning combination that enticed her to sin (Genesis 3:6).

Following the temptations of our sinful nature will prevent us from enjoying the fruits of our inheritance as sons of God. The Holy Spirit grows these fruits in us and they include love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23 NIV). Our sin thwarts the growth of such fruits because it directly opposes the Holy Spirit's work in us. Paul wrote, "So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want" (Galatians 5:16-17 NIV).

Why don't you TODAY call out to Jesus Christ and ask Him to forgive you of your sin, and to set you free from the bondage that sin has brought into your life. It is the thief that comes to "kill, steal, and destroy" but it is Jesus who comes "to give you life and more abundantly." Don't allow anything else in your life to DIE because you are just too fond of the RATTLESNAKE that you have been allowing in your life. It is time for it to be removed from your car! Blessings!

Pastor Rusty

Today's "THROUGH THE BIBLE IN A YEAR" reading: April 23, 2008 (Wednesday): Job 22:1 – Job 31:40