The good brother who had last week’s closing prayer here where I preach absolutely nailed it when he alluded to the fact that there is something far worse, far more dangerous, and far more deadly than the coronavirus going on out there… and that is those poor lost souls who are dying daily, and facing their eternity, without ever being in a right relationship with the Lord God Almighty. AMEN! However, I’m sure that most people you might come in contact with – and sadly, this includes a good number of Christians as well – will probably in some form or fashion, express their own personal expending of far more time, talk, energy, and interest consumed with Coronavirus-related matters, rather than with making sure that they and everyone else around them is ready to meet God – no matter when and what they may inevitably die of. How does this happen? Especially with Christians? And especially in light of the far greater, far more-deadly, and far more long-lasting and devastating results of the latter?
First off, we must remember that Satan is not only the master of deception, but that he is also the master of distraction. Before he could deceive Eve, he first had to distract her. This he did by getting her focus and attention off of all of the other trees of the garden which God had so richly blessed she and Adam with (Gen. 3:1-5). Once the distraction was successful, the deception was inevitable.
This truth is likely why God warned Isaiah not to be distracted and caught up in what the people of his day feared and were caught up in: “For the Lord spake thus to me with a strong hand, and instructed me that I should not walk in the way of this people, saying, Say ye not, A confederacy, to all them to whom this people shall say, A confederacy; neither fear ye their fear, nor be afraid. Sanctify the Lord of hosts himself; and let him be your fear and let him be your dread. And he shall be your fear and let Him be your dread. And he shall be for a sanctuary...” (Isa. 8:11-14a).
Remember: Once distraction is successful, deception is inevitable. The same holds true today. I believe this is one reason why Jesus and His divinely inspired first-century writers repeatedly addressed just exactly how deadly allowing Satan to thus distract us truly is. Jesus, in the parable of the sower, explained how “He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word, and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful” (Matt 13:22).
The apostle Paul commanded: “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above. where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affections on things above, not on things on earth” (Col. 3:1-2); and “And be not conformed to this world: but ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Rom. 12:2). As he wrote to Timothy, and by extension, to every “good soldier of Jesus Christ...no man that wareth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him as a soldier” (2 Tim. 2:3-4). Writing to His beloved Philippian brethren, he said: “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever are things of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do and the God of peace shall be with you” (Phil 4:8-9).
The thing that you and I must understand is that in our world there is always going to be a “crisis” of some sort going on. Whether it is viral, financial, political, psychological, or some other, there is always going to be a “crisis of the day” – something that the unbelieving world around us is always going to be distracted by, consumed with, and/or far too worried about, to ever take the time to seriously focus on God, His word, and their eternity… and the news media is going to make absolutely sure that they dissect and dramatize every divinely-distracting detail and morsel of it. After all, without a crisis to report, their criteria for existence ceases to exist.
Consider this -- Do you perhaps recall the pre-coronavirus crisis that had everybody so up in arms only a little over a year ago? Church shootings. Before that, it was something else… and something else before that… just as there will also be some other “crisis” to “worry” about and be consumed with eight months from now… and eight months after that… and etc., on into the future. It just simply never ends. And Satan makes sure it doesn’t. Because, once distraction is successful, deception, as well as death and destruction, are all, also inevitable”.
The eternally-deadly danger for all of us as Christians, comes the moment we ever forget that; should we ever begin to incrementally get so caught up in and sidetracked by whatever the current “crisis of the day” is, that we start to continually forget or neglect that which is most important; should we, like Martha, become so distracted with other things, that we forget the only thing, that should ever really matter – loving, listening to, and being comforted and encouraged by our beloved Lord and Savior’s word (Lk. 10:38-42).
Brethren; do your Lord, yourself, and those you love around you a huge and heavenly favor: Do not allow the “always-a-crisis” events of the current day’s news, to continually consume, distract, and/or draw you away from the incredibly encouraging and uplifting good news of the word of God. Here’s an experiment to try: Turn off the bad news of man for just one, short week, and turn to the pages of the good news of God during that same time period instead. The world and its news won’t change all that much during that time, but you and your peace of mind surely will (Jn. 16:33; Phil 4:8-9).
Is attending Bible class on Sunday morning and Wednesday evening important? Is it just an old tradition that is hanging on? Some, it seems, don’t think that Bible study is important and they choose not to attend.
Years ago, we used to hear the expression, “As goes the Bible School, so goes the church”. Most strong and growing congregations have active, well-planned Bible School programs. Having Bible classes on Sundays and Wednesdays is an effective method of accomplishing a number of things the Bible tells us to do.
Obviously, every congregation should constantly seek to improve its Bible School program. Here at Lay Lake, we have many good things happening. However, improvements can and should continue to be made. We are dedicating ourselves to providing an excellent program of Bible study. Our teachers put in several hours preparing for their classes. Sadly, some are simply not taking advantage of a good thing.
I insist that, while the Bible School can always be improved, the method of studying the Bible in classes is a good thing. When one enrolls in a class, faithfully attends, prepares beforehand for class; actively participates, and puts into practice the things covered, should we not expect that good things will come as a result?
Stop signs don’t stop cars – people still fail to stop.
Laws don’t stop crime – people still commit crimes.
God’s commandments don’t stop sin – people still sin.
When something is prohibited by law or command, it doesn’t prevent someone from doing it. Road signs only regulate traffic. Laws against an activity only state that it is against the law to do it. God’s prohibitions only state what is forbidden. The “teeth” in a law or a command is in the punishment (consequence).
The tree of knowledge of good and evil in the garden of Eden was easily accessible. There was no fence or wall around it. No locked gate. Adam and Eve had the ability and opportunity to eat its fruit at any time. God’s command did not keep them from eating the fruit of that tree.
The Lord God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die” (Genesis 2:16-17).
THE SERPENT SAID
“Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat of thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:4-5).
Deny the consequence. Won’t die.
(Plant the seed of doubt.)
Promote the benefits. Will gain knowledge, be like God. (Plant the seed of desire.) Question God’s motive. Why?
(Plant the seed of distrust.)
THE SLIPPERY SLOPE
First – Doubt the consequences. (Doubt either the possibility or the severity.)
DEFENSE: Don’t doubt or question the awesome power of God.
Second – Consider the benefits. (Savor the thought of having or doing.)
DEFENSE: Look past it and focus on the consequences that will surely follow.
Third – Question the reason for the prohibition. (Why is it prohibited?)
DEFENSE: Realize your wisdom is limited; trust God’s infinite wisdom.
“Put on the full armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil” (Ephesians 6:11).
“For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandment and his commandments are not grievous” (1 John 5:3).
God’s commands are given for our benefit: (1) to lead us in the right direction and, (2) to keep us from harm.