DONT BE DECEIVED 3-17-19
Don’t Be Deceived
March 17, 2019
Today is March 17th, the day many, especially those of Irish heritage, celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, often by drinking green beer and eating corned beef and cabbage. So who was this famous Irishman? St. Patrick was a fifth-century Christian missionary and later bishop in Ireland. Irish Catholics honor him as a patron saint. It has been said that there are no snakes in Ireland because St. Patrick chased them all into the sea after they attacked him during a 40-day fast he was undertaking on the top of a hill. But according to naturalist Nigel Monaghan, who is the keeper of natural history at the National Museum of Ireland in Dublin, Ireland never had any snakes to begin with; so St. Patrick could never have actually banished any physical snakes. Perhaps instead he banished what those snakes represented – evil. He is regarded as the founder of Christianity in Ireland, and converted a society that practiced a form of Celtic polytheism. Therefore, St. Patrick drove out the ‘serpent of idolatry’ and all the other snakes that accompanied it.
Our first Scripture reading (Genesis 3:1-13) finished with Eve’s words, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” Indeed, satan uses whatever is within his power to deceive us into first questioning everything from God’s Word to His very existence, and finally into completely ignoring Him and His Word, and giving into the whatever satan tries to substitute in its place. He will twist God’s Word, try to make God out to be the enemy instead of him, make God seem cruel or uncaring, or even convince us that God is either dead or never existed in the first place - and then hold out the world to us on a platter if we will but listen and heed his offer. But as Eve found out, God does not lie – satan does.
In our next Scripture reading (Revelation 12:7-12), we heard that only through the blood of Lamb can we conquer the ancient serpent called the devil and satan, who deceives the whole world. But we are also warned that he knows his time is short, and the closer we get to the end of this age, the more his fury will grow, and his attacks on Christians will increase. We pride ourselves on religious tolerance, while satan has no tolerance whatsoever for Christianity, and will do everything in his power to try and exterminate it.
We can already see this happening as satan’s counterfeit religions use everything in their power to gain a foothold in every country on earth. We need more St. Patrick’s to drive out the snakes who want only to poison us with their lies, and strangle us with their blasphemous doctrines. Remember, all religions do not lead to the same place! Jesus himself said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No man comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6) “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.” (John 3:16-19)
But not all of satan’s tactics are as obvious as bombings, terrorist attacks, and other such atrocities. Instead, most are quite subtle. As we heard in our third Scripture reading (2 Corinthians 11:1-4, 13-15), one of the serpent’s favorite ways to undermine Christianity is to pervert Scripture, and those who preach it. Whether it be by watering it down, or by taking verses out of context, and then constructing false doctrines that seem good; he convinces people that his interpretation of the gospel is better, more full of love and compassion, and will bring more happiness to the listener. But remember the words of Isaiah (5:20) “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.” A multitude of perversions are being tolerated more and more each day, accompanied by hatred that is spewed upon Christians that dare to speak up in defense of God’s Word.
So what are we to do? The apostle James asks “Don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God” (James 4:4). He then urges us to submit ourselves to God, promising that if we resist the devil he will flee from us; and that if we come near to God, he will come near to us. James extorts us by saying, “Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up” (vs. 9-10).
During this season of Lent let us do just that, so that the Lord will lift up this church and drive the serpents out of our land.