More Subtle

Michael Beck

“Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made …” (Genesis 3:1)

For deception to work it must be subtle. The devil doesn’t appear with horns and a pitchfork. He comes with sugar-coated flattery or deep concern. But Jesus could spot him even when he was speaking through the mouth of a beloved friend who wanted Him to “take care of himself.” “But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.” (Matt. 16:23)

How can we see through such subtle deception? A good “rule of thumb” is this: seducing spirits will always make things about you and how you are being treated. The Spirit of God will always make things about Jesus and how He can be glorified through whatever happens to you.

So many simply can’t get past the evil done to them. Lingering pain is a reminder of the injustice which can always be replayed in one’s mind. Isn’t outrage warranted when one mistreats another? What kind of parent is not angered when one child mischievously seeks to bother another? We innately crave justice and fair treatment.

At face value, the cross of Christ was an abomination. “He that justifieth the wicked, and he that condemneth the just, even they both are abomination to the LORD.” (Prov. 17:15) Surely, it was completely wrong and unfair for the innocent Jesus to suffer and die at the hands of wicked men. He did not deserve the cross. Wasn’t Peter right to recoil from the idea that Jesus should be subjected to this abomination? “Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin …” (Isa. 53:10)

God in Christ was after more than justice. He was interested in justifying the ungodly. To do so required the boldest stroke of divine genius. The foolishness of God determined to reconcile us to Himself by bearing our sins in His body and dying, the just for the unjust. Such wisdom is too high for fools. Revenge is their knee-jerk response to every offense.

If Satan would get behind us, we must savor those things that are of God. The mind of Christ must teach us how to take up our cross and follow Him to our own Golgotha. Our friends and family may deem us crazy, but the wisdom of God will always appear as foolishness to those who mind the things of the flesh. Satan’s appeal to the flesh is subtle, but God’s appeal to the Spirit is even more subtle. Be taught of God.

Michael Beck is a pastor in the Dallas, TX area and the main author on Signpost. Receive a daily devotional he publishes every morning via email.