October 27, 2020
But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ (2 Corinthians 11:3)
Paul had a healthy fear for those he loved. It's a fear that should concern each of us. He was afraid that Satan would lead believers away from the most important thing: simple, pure devotion to Christ.
This verse is included in the Scripture to warn each of us about a dramatic danger we face. A danger that is crippling the church right now. It would be wise to pause and look carefully at what Paul is saying, to evaluate your current condition in light of his warning.
THE SUBTLE ENEMY
... is none other than Satan himself. He is deceptive and skilled at his task. He has been deceiving greater men and women than you for thousands of years. Why would you think you would be immune to his temptations?
... is the mind. Satan's attack on Eve was a dart of doubt aimed at her thinking. He knew that if he could get her to doubt God's goodness, she would not trust Him. And, if she did not trust Him, she would not follow Him. "Has God said ...?" the Tempter reasoned. "God is holding out on you. He's telling you not to eat the tree's fruit, but, in reality, it's that very fruit that is best for you."
When Eve gave her mind to his doubts, she fell. She was pulled away from simple, pure devotion to God, and the consequences were monumental.
Satan's suggestions will sound like they are merely coming from you. That you are just thinking. And, in your thinking, you reason that if you take a certain path it will not be harmful. In fact, it will be so good that it will satisfy you; that it is exactly what you really need at the moment.
But it is a path away from Christ. The farther you follow this deception, the farther Christ recedes in your rear view mirror. The Enemy will tempt you to slowly, but surely turn to ...
Pause right now and think intentionally about this. Have you lost your first love? Are you drifting from devotion to Jesus? What god are you pursuing? What spirit are you following? What false gospel are you believing that is pulling you away from the simple, pure devotion to Jesus?
Soon you have forfeited the most important thing ... the one thing that will satisfy ... the one thing that can bring you life. You have lost intimacy with Christ. Your heart is no longer simply wrapped up in Jesus. The pure devotion that was so thrilling to your soul is diluted with the love of the world and the things of this world.
What you were convinced would satisfy you now discover was an empty promise. The Apostle who knew so much about pure love wrote that "He who has the Son has the life; He who does not have the Son does not have the life" (1 John 5:12). You have not just been deceived, you have lost life. And, if you are not shining with the close light of Christ, you have lost your witness. And, if you have lost your witness, you have lost your purpose.
Simple, pure devotion is replaced with a duplicitous heart that proclaims a pursuit of Christ but, in reality, is chasing other gods. You may try to prop up your loss with a show of religious activity or feigned enthusiasm. But a child of God who is not walking with Jesus in simple, pure devotion is hollow and lifeless. And, in your emptiness, you are a perfect target for a barrage of temptations that Satan will bring, convincing you that the fulfillment you seek is just around the bend.
"There is nothing so tragic as a merely formal Christian," Martyn Lloyd-Jones said. Nothing so disappointing as a person who once basked in the joy of the Lord but has now discovered that his love has grown cold.
If you have not yet been drawn away, pause and re-arm yourself with this holy fear. Be watchful for Satan's subtle suggestions and be wary of his scheme. Ruthlessly walk away from the slightest suggestion that life is found anywhere else than Jesus.
But if you find that you have already wandered, do whatever is necessary to run to Jesus. Fast, pray, read His Word, seek godly counsel and accountability. Give deliberate time to let the Spirit "search your heart and know your mind and see if there be any hurtful way" in your life. Ask God to return you to your First Love. And do not stop until your heart is again completely enamored with Him.
Father, make me wise. Help me see the subtle, powerful temptations of the Enemy—the substitutes he offers, the lies he whispers. When I am tempted to drift, remind me there is no place of joy nor purpose anywhere else but in You. And, if I have drifted, help me to remember and repent and return to sole, satisfying Savior.
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I once had a lawyer I had the privilege of discipling that would always ask me "What's the purpose of the exercise?" Great question. So, why would I get up early every morning and meet with God? What's the point of reading and studying the Bible over and over again?