December 1, 2016


[The readings for the month of December are on the theme of Emmanuel.]

Genesis 3:4-5 “You will not surely die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

It is interesting that in this first appearance of the devil in the Biblical narrative he displays so clearly the characteristics Jesus said about him: lying (John 8:44) and stealing, killing, destroying. (John 10:10) The first thing he does here is question what God has done, and then he impugns God’s character. He asks if God has said, and then he attributes the motive of jealousy to God. That would be laughable if it hadn’t worked! The thing is, man was created to be like God, (Genesis 1:27) to be “conformed to the image of His Son.” (Romans 8:29) However, when we try to make that happen on our own, we are in defiance of God just as the devil is. Eve swallowed the devil’s lie before she ever swallowed the fruit of the tree, because she wanted to “be like God” on her own terms rather than on God’s. That same motivation has been manifested throughout human history, from the Tower of Babel (Genesis 11) all the way through Harry Potter. It is fascinating to me that one of the tenets of Mormon theology is that after death good Mormons will become gods to create their own universes. (Of course, the Mormons also teach that Jesus and Satan were brothers, so the bit about becoming gods shouldn’t be surprising.) That motivation has been behind all pursuit of magic, which I would define as the manipulation of the supernatural by human will. Magic stands in stark contrast to miracles, which are manifestations of the supernatural by the will of God. God delights to show His power through His children, but people want to take that power as their own, to be used at their whim, and that leads to tragedy.

I can hardly say I’m immune to this temptation myself. I’ve been interested in the “paranormal” and have fantasized all sorts of things that I now see are directly in line with the devil. I know from my own experience that the root motive is pride, putting myself above not only other people but really, above God Himself. That’s exactly the sin of Satan, and I stand guilty. That gives me an immense appreciation for the grace and love of God! Frankly, there are many times – daily, even – when I would love to wave a wand and change things, but again, that would be setting myself up as God. I cannot do that! I can ask for things to happen, and should, but I must leave the sovereignty in God’s hands. I’ll never forget the time God told me personally that there are many things He’s not happy about in the world today. I’ve got to trust Him with that, and know that His final solution will be far better than anything I could possibly come up with.

Father, thank You for this reminder. The pressures of life are unrelenting, and bring the temptation to want to “take charge.” Help me be consistent in submitting to You and resisting the devil, (James 4:7) choosing to rest, relax, and rejoice in You whatever is going on around me, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!

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About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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