I’ve been doing this study, Twisting the Truth, by Andy Stanley, for a little over a week now, and I’m really enjoying it. Several people in the Bible really call Satan out, and expose him for what he is – a murderer and a liar. Christ said so blatantly in John 8:44. Paul let us know that the devil is scheming against us in Ephesians 6:12. And Peter tells us that the devil “prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). And there is something very satisfying about knowing that our enemy is getting called out, and that the whistle is being blown on him and his wily ways.
As I read through the Week 2 material in the study, I highlighted a couple of sentences that caused me to remember a recent sermon I heard at church. The sentences said this:
Paul, who wrote much of the New Testament, believed that there is a devil – an individual personality – who has schemes. And the devil’s strategy behind those schemes is simple: Take what’s true, and twist it. Take what’s evident, and distort it. Change it just enough to lead people astray.
One of the things that the devil twists are our appetites.
The sermon I heard a few weeks ago was over Proverbs 16:26:
The appetite of laborers works for them; their hunger drives them on.
In that sermon, our pastor spoke on how appetites are a normal part of healthy lives. He gave examples like
- Hunger – an appetite for food
- Thirst – an appetite for water
- Sleepiness – an appetite for rest
Food, water, and rest are all necessary for healthy living, and therefore having an appetite for these things keeps us healthy. The focus verse is a great example – “a laborers appetite works for them.” I, personally, like to eat food, like to have a place to call home, and like to buy other necessities (and possibly some things that aren’t actually “necessities”). All of these things require that I make money – I have an appetite for making money, so that I can pay for the things I need, therefore my appetite for making money helps me to go to work every day – even on those days I’d much rather stay in bed.
Most of these appetites are quite normal and healthy. But Satan has a way of twisting what is normal and healthy, and turning it into something harmful. Take my appetite for making money, so that I can pay rent and buy food. Satan has a way of twisting that into greed, so that I have an appetite for more money, or even worse, for buying stuff I don’t really have the money to buy. He takes our appetites for relationships and turns them into loneliness. He takes our appetite for forgiveness and turns it into guilt. And for many people, he takes our appetites for good things – our desires, motivations, and appreciation – and turns them into addictions.
One of my biggest problems is eating – I know I need to cut back on eating certain things, but those are the things I want the most. For one, I’ll admit I’m addicted to Dr. Pepper. I want one right now, actually. I have an appetite for Dr. Pepper, and it has turned into an addiction. You may say “well, Dr. Pepper isn’t as bad as Heroin…” True. But it is still harmful, because I’ve drunk a lot of Dr. Pepper over the years, and it’s caused me to gain a lot of weight. Well, that and cookies. I really like cookies, too.
Addiction to something is a great sign that something is missing in your life. Satan somehow tricked you into believing that the thing you are addicted to would fulfill that need. You thought drugs or alcohol would help numb your pain – they did at first (and temporarily), but now you’re worse off than ever. You were deceived. You thought pornography was harmless, until you started looking at it rather than have a relationship with your wife. You’re marriage went down the tubes. You were deceived. You thought gambling would help you make more money quickly, until you lost everything you had because you couldn’t stop. You were deceived.
Let me say that I’m not pointing fingers – I’m saying “ouch” to each of these things, too. I’ve been very blessed to see through a lot of these deceptions, but not all of them. My biggest fear is that I’m going to die before I see my girls grow up, graduate from college, get married, and have babies of their own. If God decides to take me, I’m cool with that. But if I am falling for one of Satan’s deceptions – specifically, not taking care of my body – I can’t accept that. I have to do whatever I can to get healthy, so that, unless God decides otherwise, I can live long enough to see these things. I can’t allow Satan to deceive me into thinking that I can eat whatever I want, never exercise, and expect to live past 50 years old.
So, to conclude, I’ll say that the real gist of today’s post is not to bash people over the head for doing things that will ruin their lives. It’s to help people come to realize how Satan works. He takes what is true, and he twists it. He takes what is evident, and he distorts it. He takes what is normal, and he makes it harmful. He does it through deception, with the sole purpose of ruining our lives. And he’s good at it. As I’ve said in many previous posts – knowing how he works is a giant step toward arming ourselves against his attacks.