Temptation: The Beautiful Fraud
When I was young and heard stories of the devil, I saw him as depicted in all the childhood books. He was hideously ugly and donned a red suit with horns and a pitchfork.
It wasn’t until I was older that I realized that the devil comes in the prettiest packages that appeal to all of our earthly desires.
Have you ever danced with the devil in the pale moonlight?
I have. And it was captivating. The moment was unexpected, unforgettable. He took my hand and pulled me in. Our bodies kept time with the music—swaying, turning, spinning. The room lit just enough to follow with my eyes the structure of his face and the contour of his frame. The smell of sweet seduction surrounded us. His whispers enticing me, appealing to every sensation. Promises of gratification and fulfillment, alluring and blinding. We danced. I thought the song would never end.
Do you know this man I speak of? Have you met him? Maybe you are with him now.
His name is Satan. He is attractive, witty, and intelligent. You won’t see him coming until you’re in his arms. You won’t know he’s been there until you look upon the smoldering ruins at your feet. His maneuvers are strategic, his feet quick.
Genesis 3: 1-24 introduces us to this fellow. We learn he is charming, deceiving, and convincing—that he is more subtle than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. If we are warned of this charmer, why do we continually fall for his schemes? Why? Because he is beautiful, a beautiful fraud, disguising himself as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14).
John 10:10 predicts the intrusion of this gentleman into our homes, our families, our work, our most treasured moments only to steal and kill and destroy. Again, why do we let him in? Why do we respond to his slightest touch? Because we are flawed, imperfect beings fooled and led by our emotions—what looks good and feels good must be good. Wrong.
1 Corinthians 10:13 is our safeguard, however. We find out that no temptation will overtake us that is common to all mankind and that God is faithful; he will not let us be tempted beyond what we can bear. When we are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that we can endure it.
Christ himself was tempted in Luke 4: 1-30:
The devil took him to a high place and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in an instant. The devil said to him, “I will give you all the power and glory of these kingdoms. All of it has been given to me, and I give it to anyone I please. So if you will worship me, all this will be yours.
What a confident, arrogant offer. Who would say no to this?
And we can too by the power and might promised us when we profess Him as our Lord and Savior.
Are you waiting for Prince Charming to sweep you off your feet?
I was. And he did. It was magical. With him, I was gorgeous, like a butterfly, free to finally be me. With him, I had wings and could fly. I fed off of his confidence. I was invincible. I was a goddess, sensual and desirable. I got drunk on his wine. I gorged my belly at his table. Mesmerized by his beauty, I idolized him. Enticed by his physique, I gave myself to him. He promised me the world. Then he let me down, and the fall was hard.
Do you know this man? Have you met him? Maybe you’re riding off into the sunset with him now.
His name is Lucifer. Prince Charming is his alias. You’ll believe his lines and fall for his schemes. You’ll ignore the warning signs, the countless red flags, and rationalize that it’s you. Why? Because he is the great deceiver, a beautiful fraud.
Eve herself encountered this silver-tongued suitor in Genesis 3: 4-6 and couldn’t resist the offer of luscious fruit:
Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil. So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate.”
An empty promise, a shamed woman. How many of us have been there, convinced it was a good idea.
We learn from Eve and from 1 Corinthians 10:23 to be cautious when considering any offer, particularly the ones we think we have the right to accept. Not everything is good for us. It may be legal; it may seem harmless at first glance. But does it measure up to the standards of Christ?
Right decisions start with a right relationship with Christ. Let him sweep you off your feet; he’ll never let you down.
Did a knight in shining armor rescue you?
He did. A strapping valiant, he rode into sight when everything around me was crumbling. Loneliness and despair had trampled my heart. Steeped in sorrow and self-pity, I reached for his outstretched hand. His strength could not be matched. He was chivalrous, the finest warrior. I longed for companionship, and the waiting was over. We rode until the morning light. Then he left me stranded.
Do you know this stud? Have you met him? Maybe you are waiting for him now?
His name is Antichrist. He’ll fill the void, yet leave you with a gaping hole. You’ll believe his authority and submit to his dominance. You’ll live under the weight of his oppression, accepting that he is right. You’ll adopt his theories and imitate his ways, for he is cunning.
When we least expect it, when our guard is down, the enemy strikes. His weapons are powerful, his tactics ruthless. He appeals to our senses, confuses our thoughts, and plants seeds of doubt. Whatever you crave, he delivers. He is sweet laced with poison, satisfaction flavored with toxins. So why do we bite? Why do we taste? Why even the smallest sample? Because he is conniving. He is a fraud.
Our Only Defense
The only defense we have against temptation is the word of God. From cover to cover the bible is our armor, our sword, our shield. 1 Peter 5:8 encourages us to be sober, be vigilant because our adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Ephesians 6: 10-18 prepares us for the days of temptation telling us to be strong in the Lord and his mighty power; put on the full armor of God so that we can stand against the devil’s schemes.
Everyone is tempted.
It may not be the same for everyone, but temptation is real and present.
From seemingly innocent flirting with a handsome co-worker to taking just a few extra dollars from the company cash drawer, the enemy knows exactly how to hook you and drag you down mercilessly.
For these times we can rely on Matthew 26:41: Keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. And James 4:7 echoes the same: Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.
I danced with the devil by the pale moonlight. Then I met Christ. And I felt the mighty embrace of arms faithful and true. No matter the place or the time, I remember:
Even there your hand will lead me, and your right hand will lay hold of me. Psalm 139:10
I thought Prince Charming had swept me off my feet. Then I met Christ. And with him, I soar high on wings like eagles. I run and do not grow weary. I walk and do not get faint (Isaiah 40:31).
I thought a knight in shining armor rescued me when it was Christ who rescued me from the knight. And his promise in Isaiah 43 is true:
Don’t be afraid—I will save you. I have called you by name—you are mine. When you pass through deep waters, I will be with you. Your troubles will not overwhelm you. When you pass through fire, you will not be burned; the hard trials that come will not hurt you.
Dance with Christ; let him lead.
Be swept away by the Word; cling to it.
Wait for the Lord’s rescue; his timing is perfect.
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