The devil and his lures

I was talking to a guy recently about these columns where I try to tie fishing and following Jesus together. He gave me a good idea for one — an analogy he had used in prison ministry before — of how the devil will try to distract us and draw us away from God with things of this world. How he’ll try to catch us with something flashy, the same way we use a lure on a bass.

There was a lot of wisdom in that, I thought. The devil will use the things we’re most attracted to and get us off course. Now I imagine a lot of people are uncomfortable talking about the devil, and that’s quite understandable. The enemy isn’t really a pleasant thing to talk about. But there is, no doubt, evil in this world — everyone can agree on that, I think. And so evil has to have a source, and the devil is it the way I see it.

An old quote from French poet Charles Baudelaire put it this way, “The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist.” There’s a lot of wisdom in that too. And though the devil can tempt us to do things, he is limited in his power, and the Bible makes it very clear that as a Christian, He who is in me is greater than he who is in the world (John 4:4). So, for believers in Christ, we can take comfort in that truth.

I just wanted to make sure to preface that. I’m not here to scare anyone, but I do want to make sure we’re all aware there’s an opponent on the field with us. Pivoting to a football analogy for just a second, not believing in a blitzing linebacker doesn’t stop him from nearly taking your head off if you’re trying to run the ball.

The same can be said for our opponent, he’s definitely out there trying to stop or slow down whatever good God wants to do in the world. But at the end of the day, good triumphs over evil. That’s towards the back of the book if you’re interested in reading that story — and it’s a good one.

But back to the lure. What are we really trying to do when we go fishing? We’re trying to trick a fish. We’re casting some little piece of plastic out into the water that is meant to look like something else. It’s meant to look like the one thing a fish wants over everything else. And the lure usually does the trick. The bass swims up, sucks it in and is in for a rude awakening as a swift snatch from the angler sends the hooks into the fish. Now the fight is on.

That’s where I’ve found myself time and time again throughout this life. I was distracted by something shiny, the thing I wanted most at that time, or at least believed I did. I was lured in by money or what it could get me. I was lured in by relationships, fishing, work and other things, none of which are inherently bad. They just can’t be put on the throne of my heart, where Christ alone should reign.

But that’s what has happened, time and time again. I’m lured in and tempted by what I want. James 1:14 says, “But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire.” Just prior to that verse in verse 13, James made it clear that temptation is not from God. But instead, it is from the enemy.

So, we have to be wary of the lures in our lives. Look for the things that you have a tendency to put at the top of your list, things you worship. Worship seems like a strong word, but I heard it put like this by my pastor before, “You want to know what you worship? Just look at where you spend your time and money.”

These lures won’t all be bad things. Relationships, working and even money are good things in the right context. The Bible doesn’t say, “Money is the root of all evil.” It says “The love of money is the root of all evil.” I had those two mixed up for a long time. As Christians we’re not all called to completely abandon every worldly thing, we’re just called to not place any of them before God (Exodus 20:3).

My hope is that we won’t let the devil lure us away from God, like I have so many times before. We won’t let him tempt us into placing something else above Him in our lives. We won’t allow him the satisfaction of toying with our hearts and emotions. It’s hard to do, believe me. I’m currently in a season right now where I am having to work very hard to practice what I’m preaching here. But this is the way to a more abundant life.

Unfortunately, you’ll find like I have time and time again, that if you chase those lures enough, you’ll get caught from time to time. And when you do, you’ll realize that thing you thought you wanted, was nothing like what you thought it was. It was a cheap imitation. It didn’t fill you up. Instead, it was just a distraction that led to pain.

But I’ve also seen time and time again how God redeems it all. The moment I realize I’ve been caught, and I pivot and repent and come back to Him, He makes me whole again. I’ve seen it in the lives of others as well. He makes a new creation, wiser than before, stronger than before. A creation better able to see the hooks the next time the enemy casts a lure our way.

The Bible reminds us to draw near to God and He’ll draw near to us in James 4:8. And I’ve found, the more I do that and the closer I get to God, the less likely it is that the same old lures will work on me. That’s my prayer for you and me both — that we’ll continue to lean in. Do the little things like read the Bible and go to church. And that we’ll accept that there’s an adversary and thus be better able to defend ourselves against him.

And that we’d put God first, in everything we do. Never have I been stronger in any season of life that when I can do that one thing. If you don’t already know Christ as your personal Lord and savior, perhaps now is the time you ask Him into your heart. If you do, have you really made Him Lord of your life? That’s a question I have to ask myself every day. And it’s a question where the answer swings back and forth. Salvation is a one-time deal, but true surrender is a daily thing.

Be aware of the enemy, be on the lookout for his lures. Above all, know that the battle is already won, if you have put your faith in Christ Jesus alone.

He replied, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” Luke 10:18-20