Not long ago, a college student asked me for a ride to Walmart. I knew that he had been at Walmart the day or two prior, so I asked, “what do you need to go to Walmart for?” He tried to sidestep the question, but something seemed off, so I pressed a little harder. Finally, he said, “If I send an iTunes card to someone, I’m going to get such and such. I did yesterday, and I just need to one more time…” I looked him in the eyes, and said, “buddy, it’s a scam.” It’s been a long time since I saw someone’s jaw drop as low as his did.
I recently read a story about a multibillion-dollar cryptocurrency scam near the Golden Triangle, in Myanmar. They’ve built vast complexes filled with scammers who live on site, and whose goal is to rake in people’s life savings through crypto scams. They offer a great return. For the first couple of weeks, the return looks great. So, you invest more. And then they disappear, along with your retirement.
Matthew 4:9 And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, IF thou wilt fall down and worship me.
The devil is the worst scammer of all time. The devil is more than willing to offer us the world, as he did to Christ in the passage above. But we must remember, the devil’s offers always come with a catch, with strings attached, with an IF, if you will. He said, “you’ll be like gods IF you eat the fruit.” “I’ll give you the world, with its kingdoms, IF you worship me.” “I’ll believe you’re the Son of God IF you prove it to me.” You can have pleasure IF you pollute your soul a little bit. You can have a high IF you just inject this into your body. You can get ahead IF you violate your conscience and cheat a little bit. And the list can go on.
What’s the point? As we enter this new year, there are boundless opportunities. There is great potential in our lives, in our church, and in our families. But Satan is lurking in the shadows, waiting for the right opportunity to offer opportunities of his own to us. Let us get this deep down in our hearts and souls – when we hear the hiss of the snake- and temptation, or opportunity, or something that looks too good to be true presents itself- if it violates the word of God, there’s always an IF attached! And what we give up is not worth what we gain.
It wasn’t worth getting expelled from the Garden. It wasn’t worth gaining the world but ruining God’s plan. It isn’t worth the addiction. It isn’t worth violating our conscience. It isn’t worth missing God’s will. It isn’t worth the baggage. When that old snake offers the world, by God’s grace, let’s tell that old serpent that he can take his offer and his IF to where they belong, and by God’s grace, not surrender what God has for us as a result.
Pastor Esposito would often say, “Wisdom is seeing and living life through God’s perspective.”
As we climb to new levels in our lives, we must be prepared to face new devils – challenges and opposition.