Herald Journal Columns
Feb. 10, 2003
Pastor's Column

Watch out for the deceitful snake in the grass

By Robert Hellmann,
St. Paul's and Trinity Lutheran Churches, Montrose

It's your first day on the job as the newly-appointed dog catcher ­ make that "animal control officer."

You are called to a home on a complaint and are confronted by a nine-and-a-half foot Burmese python.

This is what recently happened in Omaha, Neb. When officials came to the door of a house on an animal complaint, they were confronted by a nine-and-a-half foot illegal Burmese python.

The owner explained that he thought he had a Ball python, which is legal to own. (Having a snake over six feet long is also illegal.)

If confronted by this situation, many of us might say, "Sorry, wrong house," and get out as fast as we could ­ followed by serious thoughts about a career change.

Why is it that so many people don't like snakes? Is it because we are startled when we come upon them suddenly? Is it because some of them are poisonous? Yes, but there is a deeper reason.

After God finished creating, everything was perfect and holy. Adam and Eve were given the Garden of Eden to live in. But they were not to eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.

By obeying this special command from God, they would be showing their love and thanks to God for all His blessings.

Then trouble entered the Garden. The devil ­ a created angel who had sinned and was cast out of heaven ­ came and tempted Eve to sin. He boldly denied the truth of what God had said.

"You will not surely die," the serpent said to the woman. (Genesis 3:4) Eve was deceived by the devil. She believed his lie rather than God's truth. She took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. (Genesis 3:6)

Tragedy of all tragedies: sin and death now came upon all people.

God did not leave the world hopelessly lost in sin and death. We could say that He sent an exterminator.

Jesus came to exterminate, that is, to destroy sin, death, and the power of the devil. The devil had used a tree to carry out his evil plan. Jesus in turn used a tree to overcome the devil.

He (Jesus) Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed. (1 Peter 2:24) By faith in Jesus we have the free gift of forgiveness of sins and eternal life.

But watch out. The devil is still slithering around, a real "snake in the grass" who tries to deceive and destroy us. But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent's cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ. (2 Corinthians 11:3)

The devil poses as our friend, but he is faking it. He will tell us any lie to get us to throw away the salvation Jesus offers us. The antidote to his poisonous lies is the Truth ­ God's Word.

Hear it, read it, believe it, live by it. In it we learn about Jesus, our true friend and Savior.


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