That Slithery Serpent
Tongue that Divides:
That Slithery Serpent
“Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field….The serpent said to the woman, ‘You surely will not die!’” (Genesis 3:1, 4).
“And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world…” (Revelation 12:9).
The subject of Satan is a topic that is unfortunately absent from many of the pulpits across our great nation. The church has felt the effects, as we are collectively far too complacent in regards to sin. The devil has become a metaphor for the spirit of evil, just as Santa Claus is an imaginary representation of the spirit of giving. Both are regarded as equally fictional.
This current trend shows why the need for study of the devil and his tactics are so vital, for he is the author of sin and ungodliness. Through increasing our awareness of his countless tricks we can take proper measures in defending ourselves. 1 Peter 5:8 says, “Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” Satan is out to destroy the Christian witness by negatively affecting the use of our abilities that bring honor and glory to God.
In the passages above we find the devil described as a serpent. In the first account, the serpent Satan approaches Adam and Eve with the intent of destroying the perfect relationship they had with their Creator. Then, interestingly, Satan the serpent is mentioned at the opposite end of God’s Word, in the book of Revelation. A great battle is described as taking place in heaven between Michael the Archangel and the devil. In the end, Satan is defeated.
It may be easy for us to picture Satan as a snake because most of us are probably afraid, or at least wary of them. We imagine a rope-like, slithery reptile wrapped in a coil, with a head protruding from its scaly pile. Its mouth opens to reveal a long tongue, which is forked at the tip. I have even heard that the more fierce kinds will intently watch their prey, unknowingly passing below the limb upon which the snake rests. The serpent drops down, wraps himself around the prey. As the victim exhales, the snake contracts. This continues until no more oxygen can be inhaled, and they die of asphyxiation.
Satan truly is the serpent the Bible claims him to be. He yearns to squeeze the very life out of our Christian lives, especially through our ability to impact others. He takes no prisoners, but seeks to destroy us. He can suffocate his prey using the obvious tactics, or more likely, he will use cunning and stealth to trick us, utilizing the poison that drips from his deceitful tongue.
Christians are special targets in the serpent’s attacks. We all enjoy, for instance, the promises of good things he offers. The Devil homes in on these emotions, playing with our pride. He tells us we deserve better, because we have experienced a rough life. Other times we are told that we are better than others around us because of our talents or money we possess. The moment we say, “It’s my right to…” or “I deserve…” is when Satan gets a foothold. If we allow him enough control in a certain area, it quickly becomes a stronghold.
Look at how Eve was tempted in the book of Genesis. Satan began by planting a seed of doubt. “Did God really say you couldn’t eat that fruit?” Satan continues digging deeper into her doubt by saying God was wrong: “Come on now, you aren’t going to die.” Then, he uses the most dangerous tactic of all…pride. “If you do this, you will be like a god.” This last temptation was more than she could bear and she bit into the fruit.
This is not merely a cute Bible story to amuse children, but is a true account giving vital truths about Satan. He does attack, sometimes bypassing Doubt Drive and turning straight onto Pride Boulevard. He strokes our egos, creating in us a notion that we have rights and needs not being met, or have talents which are far greater than those in others. He uses partial truths to relax us into trusting in his words. 2 Corinthians 11:14 informs us that “Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.” He utters hypnotic words, not of wisdom, but of foolishness and deceit.
His words are so dangerous because of what they are really saying. In essence, they declare, “I am in control, not God. These talents are from my own perseverance, not through God’s blessings towards me. I need not rely on God, but my own wisdom, intellect, good looks, charm, and experience. I am not in constant need of God’s mercy, but deserve everything because, after all, I’m not nearly as bad as others.”
Interestingly, the images Satan fills our head with are those of fulfillment, while all we are left with is emptiness. When we don the Devil’s jersey, the ending result will always be abandonment on the playing field. When we fall, instead of receiving help from that evil serpent we have obeyed, he merely laughs mockingly over our broken lives.
Make no mistake about it; He is out to destroy us. His doom is certain and is foretold throughout the Bible and the Devil knows this, so he is out to create as much chaos as possible. He desires to bring as many of us down with him as possible. For those of us safe in the arms of Jesus, he settles on ruining the effectiveness of our witness.
The best we can do is to follow the advice given by Peter in the verse we saw earlier. “Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). Awareness is always the best line of defense, and that awareness comes from devouring the Word of God like a starving person at a feast.
Following from this is the tactic of knowing your enemy. Next month, we will look at the ways that wicked serpent uses his tongue to bring God’s people down. Until then, I pray that the Lord blesses you in ways that further his Kingdom.