Thursday, September 22, 2011

A Matter of Degrees

     Imagine that you are standing at the center of a clock and you are facing the twelve. You are facing that direction because beyond the twelve, beyond the edge of the clock is truth. Beyond the horizon is the source of goodness, love and holiness. God is beyond your sight calling you. Behind you, at six o'clock is the darkness. The evil one whispers from the void. Insistent. Incessant. His lies and deception continuously directed at your weakness. His subtlety and craft derailing your attempts to live intentionally for God.
     The call he issues is not blatant. He doesn't attempt to spin you around from the twelve to the six. He knows  that would be too much. His strategy is to move our eyes from God only slightly, say to 11:58 or maybe 12:01.
If he can achieve that, a slight distraction from having our focus singularly on God, then he can move us incrementally to say 9:00  or 3:00 o'clock. Then you are facing neither the light or the darkness. You are looking at the gray area; the in between, where the lines are fuzzy and distorted. Where choices and decisions are difficult  because the consequences may not be clear.The reason he doesn't need to move you 180 degrees is because he only needs  to move you 1 degree. When we take our eyes off God, when we are not living intentionally focused on Him, we have compromised with evil and a single degree is the same as 15 or 45 or 90 degrees. To not be God focused is to be focused on the other, the world, ourselves, the darkness.
     The deception of Eve in Genesis illustrates for us the subtlety and slight of hand that makes satan such a dangerous adversary. In asking "Did God really say?", he plants doubt in Eve's mind about her understanding of God's words. He suggests that she has misunderstood the intent of God's instruction. That degree of doubt, that compromise of the truth equals death. When we trust ourselves to navigate in the gray areas, when we decide things without the moral compass that is God's love, we have moved a degree and we are choosing sin. Only a focused pursuit of God, seeking His truth, allowing it to live in our hearts and control our minds can deliver us from the enemy. A degree of doubt and we are vulnerable. A small compromise and we are susceptible to destruction and ruin.
     Because he is relentless, we must never stop seeking God's truth and our redemption through His Word.
The deceitful nature of our hearts requires that we be continually washing them with the truth. If we are not cleansing ourselves and remembering God's truths into our minds, we have no defense for the whisper that slithers from the darkness; that incessant hiss of falseness that calls to our pride, our vanity, our self esteem.
When we are satisfied with our goodness, when we are self-sufficient, when we take God for granted because we are not focused on Him, we have have moved a degree, and we die.
     The deceiver is tireless in his pursuit of those who cling to the promise of the light. Those who pursue God and His kingdom are subject to the his full attention and are assaulted with doubt, fear, insecurity and angst. He sows discontent and disruption to distract the faithful from delivering what God has ordained for them to achieve. We have heard it argued that satan knows the end he faces and that he attempts to strip away as many believers as he can in a last gasp attempt to defy God. I am increasingly convinced that the opposite is true; the insistent ferocity, the determined energy of his activities are indicative of an individual
 who believes he can win. His efforts are those of someone who is confident of success. He craves the worship that rightfully belongs to the one true God, but he will settle for the vague affirmation that he gets from the lost, who knowingly or not are separated from God. Because he is the father of lies, he believes his own lies. He believes that the anguish and agony of the lost is equivalent to the adoration and awe of the saved; his pride and vanity convince him that an individual's rejection of God's love is an endorsement of his
evil, lies and deceit.
     The root of satan's fall is selfishness and pride. His self-delusion is that somehow he is more worthy of glory and honor than his creator, the maker and author of all things. He believes that his value and his worth is somehow his doing and not an imparted or reflected good that comes from God. When we choose ourselves over God, we align ourselves with satan. Rebellion, choosing ourselves or our own course rather than submitting to God's, is sin. We deceive ourselves when we believe that we are self-sufficient, self-empowered, or self-contained. We were created to reflect God's glory; in and of ourselves we have nothing that is commendable or worthy of recognition. We are reflective of His goodness and if we believe that we are good, we have swallowed the lie of satan.