A Snake and an Angel
Wednesday - June 17th
Scripture to Read for Today's Devotional: Genesis 3:1-4
Today's Selection from our Sermon on the Mount Reading Plan: Matthew 6:25-34
Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light.
2 Corinthians 11:14
"My heart started pounding," Kimmel told CNN. "I've caught big ones before, but this one looked extra-large."
Mike Kimmel calls himself the "Python Cowboy." He has captured hundreds of pythons in the Florida Everglades. It is what he does. He removes wildlife that has become a danger to Florida landowners. His specialty is removing snakes. Recently, he tracked a python that was causing a neighborhood disturbance. When he came across the slippery creature, he was stunned by its size. At 17 feet long, it was the biggest snake Kimmel had ever had to catch. The largest python ever caught in Florida was 18 feet, 8 inches long. The Python Cowboy wrestled with the huge snake, got bit a little, and then dragged it back to his boat.
Pythons were popular as exotic pets in the late 1970s and throughout the 1980s. Many python owners released the pythons into the everglades when the snake became too big for them to handle in their homes. Some pythons may have escaped from a breeding business during the destruction of the facility during Hurricane Andrew in 1992. Pythons are not indigenous to Florida, but the Everglades are the perfect environment for them to thrive. However they got there, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission believes there may be up to 100,000 pythons living in the Everglades.
Conservationists believe that up to a dozen pythons living in the wild in Florida may be longer than 15 feet and may weigh up to 150 pounds. Undoubtedly the size of these snakes removes one key characteristic that most snakes have. They are probably not very subtle or sneaky.
When the Bible tells the story of Adam and Eve being tempted to sin, it describes how Satan took on the form of a snake to subtly convince them to rebel against God. Maybe he was a huge python. Maybe not. Most Bible scholars believe that snakes before the fall of humanity were beautiful and not seen as deceptive. After Adam and Eve sinned, snakes fell under a curse for the deceptive part Satan played in tricking the first couple while in the form of a snake. In the Mel Gibson movie "The Passion," anytime Satan shows up in the background throughout Jesus' life, he first appears as a snake. We have gotten very comfortable seeing him in that slippery, sneaky form.
While our mental image of Satan is dark and subtle, the Apostle Paul says we need to understand Satan differently. Paul told the first-century church at Corinth that Satan actually presents himself as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14). The Scriptures tell us that Satan was once the highest angel of Heaven. Satan rebelled against God and was cast from Heaven. He now knows his end is coming, but he works to thwart God's Kingdom and cause chaos in our lives here on earth.
We know that Jesus made the personal claim to His followers that He was THE Light of the World (John 8:12). We also know that in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus told His followers they would be the light He would send out into the world (Mathew 5:14-16). Understanding Christ's references to light might give us a greater awareness that Satan tries to blend in. He does not try to stand out. He wants to look like he represents God and what would be good for us. But, he twists the good gifts of God and distorts God's perspective on those gifts.
We must be aware that Satan plays with us. He tries to convince humanity of one of two things: 1) he always shows up as an awful, ugly, disgusting monster, or 2) that he really doesn't exist. Either way, we look for something he is not. That gives him the advantage. If he can approach us subtly, often looking very angel-like, he knows we will simply miss that we are dealing with him or one of his demons. He then can subtly speak into our lives while our guard is down. Paul warned us. He told us that this angel of light appears as one thing, but seeks to accomplish something very far from what God wants for us.
This week remember the angel of light distorts the blessings God gives us. God designed us to work and achieve. Satan wants us to play power games, push others down to climb the corporate ladder, and get intoxicated with our own success and ego. God gave humanity the gift of sex for procreation and pleasure within the loving intimacy between a woman and a man committed to each other in marriage. Satan tries to convince us that the fulfillment of our deepest sexual passions and lusts with whomever and how ever we want brings the highest satisfaction. He does this in every area of life. He distorts God's gifts to us. He lies to us. He tricks us.
In what areas of your life have you rejected God's perspective and fallen for the angel of light's distortion? Confess it to God and pursue His view of what will be truly fulfilling. God is not a killjoy. He made you. He knows what will bring you the deepest and most fulfilling satisfaction. Satan simply wants to distort and destroy!
As you walk in the light of Christ, be very aware that Satan will try to blend in. He gave up the snake look long ago!