As you waved goodbye to your friends at church last Sunday, what mental darts were left stuck in the target of your thinking?
Can you remember those pointed challenges from the man who stood before you with Bible in hand? How many hours have passed since you sat there, opening your ears and heart to counsel from God’s always-relevant Book? A few dozen maybe?
Ah, it’s starting to fade, isn’t it? Those incisive, potentially life-changing principles are swimming away in a sea of fog and mist. What a frustration! Why can’t we hang on to those mental, spiritual handholds we need so desperately as we cling to the face of this cliff called “daily living”?
Jesus illustrated this struggle so vividly in Mark 4. Do you remember? The seed is carefully sown. Yet shortly after God’s Word is heard, the enemy of our souls, Satan himself, comes and snatches away the biblical insights that have been deposited in our hearts.
Isn’t it the truth? Before the freshly baked cake is cool, he comes and licks off all the frosting. Before the new bike is ridden, he sneaks up and lets all the air out of the tires. Before the dress is worn, he slips up and jerks out the hem and jams the zipper. Before we crank up the car at 12:20, he’s stolen the stuff we heard at 11:45.
Amazing! But you gotta remember, he’s been at it since he winked at Eve in the garden. He’s the first when it comes to rip-off experts.
There are others who follow in his train. Like a basketball fan discovered at the Portland airport awaiting the arrival of the Trailblazers following a victory over the Lakers. He was attempting to scalp a couple of tickets to the next game—for a hundred and fifty bucks each. As he wormed through the crowd, he located a well-dressed man who listened to his offer.
“How much?” asked the gentleman.
“One hundred fifty,” he replied under his breath. “Not a cent lower.”
“Do you realize you’re talking to a plain-clothes officer of the law?” the man asked the scalper. “I’m going to turn you in, fella.”
Suddenly the seller began to backpedal. He talked about how large a family he had . . . how much they needed him . . . how he’d never ever do it again.
Looking both ways, the well-dressed man said: “Just hand over the tickets and we’ll call it even . . . now get out of here and I had better never catch you here again!”
But the worst was yet to come. The well-dressed man was no officer at all. Just a quick-thinking guy who used a little ingenuity to land two choice seats to the next playoff game. He anonymously admitted it in the local newspaper several days later.
Satan’s strategy is just as ingenious and effective. He hears what we hear and in the process plans his approach. He baits the rip-off trap, then sets it up with just the right hair trigger. Here are several:
- an immediate argument in the car after church is over on where to go for dinner.
- lots of activity, talking, and needless noise Sunday afternoon.
- preoccupation with some worrisome, plaguing problem during the message.
- a personality conflict with another church member.
- irritation over how far away you had to park.
- pride—that says, “I’m so glad Doo Dad is here. He really needs to get straightened out.”
All those (there are more) are satanic rip-offs. Like a lion, he prowls silently, camouflaged in the garb of our physical habits and our mental laziness, seeking to devour. At the precise moment when it will have its greatest impact, he snatches away the very truth we need the most, leaving us with hardly a memory of what God said earlier. It occurs every Lord’s Day in every language on every continent . . . at every local church where the Scripture is declared.
In case you question the effectiveness of his strategy, think back just two or three weeks . . . or one will do. Try your best to remember merely a message title . . . or an outline . . . or for that matter, a couple applicatory principles.
You see, this isn’t theory! It’s warfare. And the battle is being waged this very minute. Don’t fight it alone. Your Commander is ready with powerful reinforcement. Remember what Jesus said?
“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.” (John 14:26)
It’s a promise worth remembering.