by Rob Tims
What I’m about to tell you will come as no secret to my closest friends (or my very attentive acquaintances: I have a love for fast food.
By “fast food,” I don’t mean “convenient” or “pre-packaged.” I mean the drive-thru window that brings unhealthy, instant gratification.
I blame my parents.
My mother once told me that when I was four years old, she drove the car through the bank teller window and stopped to make a deposit. I leaned across her (because toddlers rode in the front seat without seat belts back then), looked at the teller, and said, “I want a hamburger and french fries.”
It’s not a habit easily broken. I’m in pretty good shape and do eat well most days. Nevertheless, there is the constant temptation for something “better” that is actually worse. It’s the same cycle over and over again, and I often give in. I tell myself something mostly true (“You’ve earned it this week … it’s not that bad for you”), then I create objections to the truth that comes pushing back at me, then I choose the lies and dive in. I feel great for an hour or so, then I feel awful for all the reasons you already know.
I supposed I should blame my first parents, Adam and Eve. Genesis 3:1-7 (CSB) tells the tale.
Now the serpent was the most cunning of all the wild animals that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You can’t eat from any tree in the garden’?”
2 The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat the fruit from the trees in the garden. 3 But about the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden, God said, ‘You must not eat it or touch it, or you will die.’”
4 “No! You will not die,” the serpent said to the woman. 5 “In fact, God knows that when[a] you eat it your eyes will be opened and you will be like God,[b] knowing good and evil.” 6 The woman saw that the tree was good for food and delightful to look at, and that it was desirable for obtaining wisdom. So she took some of its fruit and ate it; she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. 7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.
You can see how Adam and Eve’s experience is virtually identical to my own (and yours too). Satan blurs the truth (v. 1), then diminishes the truth (vv. 4-5). He then blatantly lies, yet in a way that seems to validate the lie as a truth, which leads to belief and action on the lie.
You would think that our ability to recognize Satan’s pattern would make our succumbing to it far less likely, but our issues are much deeper and cannot be resolved by paying attention to a checklist of Satan’s typical behavior. We need a rescue, not a rehabilitation.
That said, we who are rescued by Jesus are served well in an awareness of how Satan works to draw us away from Jesus. In our search for something better, we always find something worse. May the Lord protects us from Satan’s tactics.
Rob Tims is husband to Holly and father to Trey, Jono, Abby Jane and Luke. He’s the author of Southern Fried Faith: Confusing Christ and Culture in the Bible Belt, and manages the team behind smallgroup.com at LifeWay Christian Resources in Nashville. He writes regularly at RobTims.com and blogs every Friday at Forward Progress.