Friday, November 27, 2009

Subtle and Crafty Devil

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"NOW THE serpent was more subtle and crafty than any living creature of the field which the Lord God had made. And he [Satan] said to the woman, Can it really be that God has said, You shall not eat from every tree of the garden?" Genesis 3:1

I couldn't understand why, but lately my husband and I had been butting heads. Every day I was finding fault after fault. I couldn't stand it! Why was I being so judgmental? What happened to the sense of puny-ness I'd experienced just a few weeks ago? Where is the humility in knowing that I am nothing apart from Christ, and therefore, no better than anyone else? I didn't understand it until the Lord reminded me of where it all started...the Christmas shopping.

When my husband started his annual spending spree for this season, and I found out just how much he was acutally spending, I started going down the old "self" road. I completely took matters out of God's hands and into my own. As I watched him start to work overtime, spend excessive amounts of money on Christmas gifts and stress over giving our children everything they ever wanted this year, I became frustrated and angry. He was coming home later, leaving me exhausted with the kids. He was neglecting other necessary things that had to be paid. He was being short with me and secretive about his spending (hmm...I wonder why). Granted, these things may rightly cause anger and frustration, and even now, I still wish the Lord would remind him of the real reason for Christmas; but the battle has been to not get so caught up in uncontrollable emotions, bitterness, resentment and unforgiveness; and to not try to constantly show him where he's wrong.

My prayer these past few months has continually been for the Lord to keep me humble, make me the wife and mother and woman of God He wants me to be, and sanctify, cleanse and purify me to be used for His glory and power. Not for MY glory and not for MY purposes, but for His; so that those who need to see Jesus will be able to. So, naturally, my first reaction to my mixed emotions and frustration is discouragement and confusion. After stealing away to get with the Lord, knowing that He was the only One who could cleanse me of my sin and make sense of everything, I decided to do a search of all the scriptures that mentioned the word "woman." I needed some truth about myself. (I didn't want to read the word and immediately bash my husband for not treating me as a woman either, and that was a challenge.) It didn't take long for the Lord to show me where I went wrong.

The third scripture reference that mentioned the word "woman" was Genesis 3:1. It starts out describing what kind of character the devil has, "NOW THE serpent was more subtle and crafty than any living creature of the field which the Lord God had made..." The Modern King James Version describes him as "cunning." It got me wondering why the devil went to Eve instead of Adam.

In the creation story found in the book of Genesis, God created Adam first. God has every other living thing creature pass by for Adam to pick a companion for himself. When there was nothing suitable for him, God made a woman from Adam's own body. He didn't create woman separately the way He created Adam; He took a part of Adam, the man, and created Eve. She belonged to Adam because she was a part of him. That speaks volumes of God's order for marriages and also, Adam's authority over Eve. God made Eve not only for Himself, but she was specifically made for Adam.

"Then Adam said, This [creature] is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of a man." Genesis 2:23

Now, I also find it worth noting that God didn't verbally command both Adam AND Eve to not eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. He verbally spoke that command to Adam. In fact, Eve hadn't even been created yet. (Genesis 2:15-22) Just a thought...I wonder if Adam, as Eve's husband, would have had to give Eve those instructions (another sign of authority). Eve would have had to trust and obey Adam, thereby trusting and obeying the Lord, that He did indeed speak that commandment to Adam.

Here comes the subtly cunning devil. He doesn't go to Adam and ask, "did God REALLY say you couldn't eat this fruit?" (Paraphrase of Genesis 3:1). God spoke that commandment directly to Adam. Adam would have KNOWN what God said to him. Instead, the devil went to Eve and craftily got her to mistrust God and her husband. I wonder what kind of attitude she went to Adam with when she offered him the fruit. Was she blissfully ignorant; led astray be her lack of understanding of the damage that was done and the enticement of her senses? Was she thinking she was doing a "good thing" by offering this forbidden fruit to her husband, because of its pleasant taste and sudden gain of knowledge (sort of like the way I was doing a "good thing" by telling my husband how wrong he was)? Was she trying to prove Adam wrong? Knowing the harm she had done, was she now deliberately trying to bring him down with her? Whatever the case was, the devil conned his way in to their relationship, caused them to both disobey God, and changed the course of their lives.

What does this have to do with me? Somewhere...the devil conned his way in, fed me his deception about my relationship with my husband, and tried to convince me that God couldn't handle it. Concerning God's word and the truth about my situation, he tried the old, "did God REALLY say..." trick and I fell for it. I realized I had been picking fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, acting as God by trying to show my husband where I was right and where he was so obviously wrong (even if it was just by a negative look or bad attitude). I had never meant for it to be that way. It wasn't my intention. For a while, I saw it as righteous indignation instead of what it really was, judgment and fault-finding. I wasn't praying aout it anymore. Instead, I was thinking of all the ways he was hurting me and our kids by what he was doing. It eventually turned into a long list of faults and judgments. Nothing else.

Praise the Lord for His grace and mercy. Because of it I don't have to sit in condemnation because of the things I've done wrong. I shouldn't make other people do it either. Jesus freely forgave me of my countless sins and failures, and as a Christian and servant of God, He wants me to do the same. Jesus told a parable about this very statement. Praise God that I can rejoice in the fact the my hardships and failures bring me back to the cross and keep me always knowing how desperately I need Him.

"Each time he said, "My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness." So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That's why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong." 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 New Living Translation

The Parable of the Unmerciful Servant

"Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, "Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?" Jesus answered, "I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.

"Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him. Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt. "The servant fell on his knees before him. 'Be patient with me,' he begged, 'and I will pay back everything.' The servant's master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go. "But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii. He grabbed him and began to choke him. 'Pay back what you owe me!' he demanded. "His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, 'Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.' "But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. When the other servants saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed and went and told their master everything that had happened. "Then the master called the servant in. 'You wicked servant,' he said, 'I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn't you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?' In anger his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.

"This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart
." Matthew 18:21-35

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