I can’t believe what I saw last night. A furniture company in our area has a new promotional going. They are running advertisements on all of the Philadelphia stations touting this incredible offer: “No Payments ‘Till 2009!” You read that correctly. 2009! Wow!
The experts tell us that this is a highly effective marketing strategy. It works because it makes the purchasing process as painless as possible. It’s probably one of the greatest enticements to “impulse buying” around.
Doesn’t the devil use a similar sales technique? He wants “buying into his line” to seem as painless as possible for his target audience. You can almost hear him say, with a sinister sneer, “If it looks good or tastes good or feels good, it can’t be bad, can it? Go ahead! Try it! It’s painless, you know!”
But, the devil goes further. He doesn’t just offer a pain-free, convenient delay in payment. His catch phrase hasn’t changed for a thousand generations. “Go ahead,” the devil says, “Eat the forbidden fruit. You shall not surely die!” (cf. Genesis 3:1-4) The implication: There’s no cost at all!
The problem with the devil’s strategy is that it is a lie! Though this is not an absolute, can we not accurately say that which looks good or tastes good or feels good can be bad? Sure. This is why 1 John 2:16 cautions: “…All that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world.” In addition, we must keep in mind the certain reality that there is a payday someday! Indeed, “…We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.” (2 Corinthians 5:10)
These are sobering thoughts. Impulse purchases are regretted for a little while. Buying into the devil’s schemes is something which could be regretted eternally. Getting by with something in the here and now, does not mean we will get away with it, either! Tragically, too many have been lulled into a false sense of security, because of God’s patience which delays His wrath. In this regard, the words of Romans 2:4 must be kept in mind: “…Do you think lightly of the riches of [God’s] kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?”
Where, then, does this leave us? How do we respond to these realities? Let me suggest the following:
1) Be careful! The devil is crafty in his schemes to lead us astray. Thus, the Spirit instructs: “So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!” (1 Corinthians 10:12)
2) Be prayerful! In the Model Prayer, the Lord instructs us to pray: “…Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.” (Matthew 6:13)
3) Be quick to turn away from evil! Thus, the Scriptures declare: “For, whoever would love life and see good days must….turn from evil and do good.” (1 Peter 3:11)
4) Be committed to what is right! Just as John cautions us against worldliness (1 John 2:15-16); so, also, does he counsel: “The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God live forever.” (1 John 2:17)
5) Be glad! Yes. This is a sin-saturated world; and, we’ve all bought into the devil’s treachery. But, thanks be to God, “Grace now reigns through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 5:21) Yes! Now that’s good news! We are privileged to exult in God’s triumph over the devil and sin’s power in our lives. Indeed, “…There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:2)
6) Be “in the light”! Again, we turn to the Apostle John’s counsel. His inspired pen reminds us that God is light! In Him there is no darkness at all! And, “If we walk in light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.” (1 John 1:5 & 7)
No doubt about it, we are daily bombarded by the devil’s attempts to make evil seem like a good deal. Sometimes we yield to these temptations. But, thanks be to God, He offers us the gift of salvation through Jesus Christ.
May we be ever-thankful for this gracious offer.
© Bill Williams
July 5, 2006