Thursday, March 21, 2024

Bringing Down a Super-Villain's Defenses

Suggested Reading: Revelation 2:12-17

In Superman II,  three super-powered villains from Krypton come to earth to take revenge on their jailer by killing their jailer’s son, Superman. After several battles where neither Superman nor the villains can gain the advantage, Superman lures them to his Fortress of Solitude in the Arctic. Playing on Lex Luthor’s greed and tendency for betrayal, he tricks the villains into turning on a machine that will eliminate their powers while Superman himself is protected within a crystal vault.  Superman knew that in order to win, he had to eliminate the villains' advantage.

When Israel was wondering through the wilderness on their way to the Promised Land, they wanted to pass through the land of Midian. Balak, the king of Midian, tried to hire a prophet named Balaam to curse Israel so that he could wipe them out, but each time, Balaam’s attempt to curse the Israelites turned into a blessing.  The Israelites were protected by God and, seemingly, there was no way to curse them or defeat them.  Not long after that, however, according to Jewish tradition, Balaam found a way to remove Israel’s singular advantage of God’s blessing. This new tactic is summarized in Revelation 2:14 as the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to place a stumbling block in front of the Israelites: to eat meat sacrificed to idols and to commit sexual immorality (HCSB).  Balaam knew that Israel could never be defeated by Midian so long as they were under God’s blessing so, according to Jewish tradition, he encouraged Balak to send in some seductive women who would encourage the Israelites to engage in idolatry and sexual immorality, breaking God’s laws and removing God's blessing from them so that they could be defeated.

Like the Israelites, we also have an Enemy who roams about like a roaring lion, seeking to devour us. Our Enemy also knows that we can never be defeated as long as God’s blessing rests on our lives, so he seeks to remove that blessing by tempting us into sin and into lifestyles that will separate us from the blessing of God. Our Enemy knows that if we remove ourselves from God’s protective blessings that we can be rendered ineffective and begin living defeated lives. Satan doesn’t always come at us head on, trying to mow us over. On the contrary, the Enemy tempts us to remove ourselves from God’s blessing, to give up our singular advantage.

Choosing to continue in a lifestyle of sin is not harmless. Rather, continuing in sin sets us up for failure and defeat, playing right into the Enemy’s hands. Choosing to sin and allowing sin to have a foothold in our lives amounts to stepping out from under the impenetrable shield of God’s blessing. By doing so, we give up our singular advantage and make ourselves vulnerable to the Enemy’s attacks. Why would we do that to ourselves?

Intentionally engaging in sinful behavior makes us vulnerable to the Enemy’s attacks. Recognize temptation for what it is: an attempt by your Enemy to bring down your defenses.

Impressive Frisbee Scars and Unnecessary Distractions

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