The Snare of the Enemy
"I will not speak much more with you, for the ruler of the world is coming, and he has nothing in Me; I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it, that it may bear more fruit. By this is My Father glorified, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples. These things I have spoken to you, that you may be kept from stumbling." John 14:30;15:1-2;16:1 NASB
In the days that lay ahead for the church, these words of Jesus will become more and more of a reality for those who desire to grow in Him and grow closer to Him. However, it is exactly these words and His desire and will expressed herein that will become a stumbling block for many.
In the above passage, Jesus clearly states that it is the Fathers desire to prune His branches so that they bear more fruit. Yet, this is not the message heard in many pulpits around the world. We are encouraged to seek God for His blessings, to walk in prosperity and victory at all times and if the Lord is in our lives, then everything will go well. This distortion of scripture has set up many in the church to fall and be led astray by what I will call as the "snare of the enemy".
1997, the Year of Change
Last month (December 1996), I felt a strong impression during prayer that 1997 would be a great year for Gods people, but that I was to warn anyone who would listen that we must not judge His work through the eyes of the world. To the extent we do this, we will be led astray and turn away from the very God who desires to draw closer to us. The problem for many of us is simple we have too much of the ways of the world in us to clearly see the Lords hand or His heart.
The Word says in Romans 8:5-7, "For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so;". The King James says "the carnal mind is enmity against God". "Enmity" is defined as "deep-seated hatred, as between rivals or opponents". Consequently, if we walk and have a carnally based mind, we are at war with the law of God and cannot subject ourselves to it. No wonder we are told to " not to be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of our minds " (Romans 12:2). If not, we will fight against God and the very things He is trying to do in our lives to bring us closer to Him and "conform us unto the image of His Son."
Jesus stated that "every branch that bears fruit is pruned, that it may bear more fruit". Therefore, the pruning or "cutting back" is Gods way of making us more fruitful to Him. "Every branch that does not bear fruit is taken away". Its clear that our only path to pleasing God and walking in His will is to be pruned, and to allow Him to do it. Herein lies the snare.
The enemy attempts to trap us by getting us to think that somehow God has abandoned us, or that we somehow missed Him. Weve all heard these lines before, and we start to doubt Him. Things arent going well; money is tight; we lost a job; a spouse left; were sick; the car broke down again! We all start to think the same way; "God has turned His back on me"! Then our well-meaning brothers and sisters in the Lord "pray" that we get ourselves together somehow, that were not an embarrassment to the church. How sad that we many times neglect to see the hand of God on someone. Just because things look bad, we assume that they must not be "praying enough", or they "dont tithe", or there definitely must be "sin in their lives". It is during these most critical times in our lives that we must not turn our back on each other or the Lord. He is in the process of "pruning"!! Of course, some things are self-inflicted, and sometimes we do miss God. However, the danger is to come up with a "pat answer" to explain why things are going wrong. Its the perception thats wrong. Were looking with the wrong eyes. If the enemy can get us to look at God and His ways through the eyes of the flesh and the ways of the world, to measure His methods against the worlds standards, then the trap is set and weve been caught. Its the same trick since the beginning, and it will be played on all those who dont see and hear the Spirit of God.
The Pattern of Temptation
"Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, Indeed, has God said, "You shall not eat from any tree of the garden?" . And the woman said to the serpent, from the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, "you shall not eat from it or touch it, lest you die." And the serpent said to the woman you surely shall not die, for God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil. When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate." Gen. 3:1-6 NASB
Now, we are all familiar with this story, but I want to illustrate the snare used against Gods people. Eve followed the pattern outlined later in the New Testament that gives us a clue as to the workings of the enemy and how he approaches us. Paul said that we are "not ignorant of his devices", and the same "devices" are used repeatedly to ensnare many Christians that view things according to the worlds standard.
First of all she "saw that the tree was good for food", and that it was a "delight to the eyes", and finally that the tree was desirable "to make one wise". Doesnt this sound familiar? It should!! She was tempted in three (3) distinct areas: body, mind and spirit. The first with food (flesh), then with the eyes (mind), and then with wisdom (spiritual pride). Now, take a look at this verse:
"Do not love the world, nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world." I John 2:15-16 NASB
What was Eves pattern again? "When the woman saw that the tree was good for food (lust of the flesh), and that it was a delight to the eyes (lust of the eyes), and that the tree was desirable to make one wise (boastful pride of life), she took from its fruit and ate;". Eve was tempted in the same way we are tempted today. The enemy appeals to our fleshly nature through the lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes and the pride of life. He did the same things to Eve that he does to us. Now, before you say how strong you are in the Lord and that you cant possibly fall to these types of temptations, keep this in mind. EVE HADNT FALLEN YET!!! She hadnt bit the apple. Once the enemy appealed to her mind and she entertained his suggestions, she was already gone. He wasnt appealing to a fallen, sinful human being. Eve had no sin at that point in time! If you take the time to let this soak in, youll comprehend the level of deception at work here.
Satan found a way to appeal to the essence of Eve, as he did with the angels who left the comforts of heaven to follow him. Eve had no sinful weakness, no faults he could accuse her of, yet he found a way to get to her. He appealed to her mind, her reasoning. Look at Gen. 3:4 again.
"And the serpent said to the woman, You surely shall not die! ". What was he doing here? He was planting doubt about the character of God in her mind, and it was enough to get her to disobey what she knew was the Word of God. She knew clearly that she was not supposed to eat of the fruit (Gen. 3:2-3) , yet she did it anyway. Now if Eve was not in a fallen state at this point, then how did satan find an opening to attack her? The clue is in Gen. 2:15-17. Here God tells Adam not to eat of the fruit of the tree, or he would die. Eve was not present at this time because she was not taken from Adams side until verses 21 and 22 of the same chapter. So Eve could only have known this from Adam, since there is no scripture to indicate that God told her directly. Herein lies the problem we all face.
We must hear and know the Word of God for ourselves as to not to fall into the snare of the enemy. Satan knew Eve heard this command concerning the tree from Adam, and therefore this was his chance to place doubt in her mind about what God had said to her husband. Notice he didnt question Adam directly, even though I believe Adam heard this entire conversation with the serpent; "and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate". Adam could have spoken up and told the serpent to "get lost", but he said nothing. He was the only one who could have refuted the lies, but he held his tongue. He was the only one who could have stopped Eve by reminding her what God had told Him. We do not know why Adam kept silent. Regardless, they both allowed the serpent to place enough doubt in their mind to eat the fruit. There is a great lesson to be learned here, and we must not forsake it.
The Plan of Deception
The enemy wants to convince you that your problems are not Gods will, that somehow you have missed him. Yet the Word says that if you bear fruit, you WILL be pruned! Every gardener knows that if a plant grows well, you prune back the branches so that it will grow more. The weak limbs are removed and cut off so that all the nourishment the plant needs goes to the strong limbs. God is just fixing you up! Hes eliminating the weak to feed the strong parts of you. The dead areas were holding you back from bearing more fruit. No one wants to get pruned. It hurts!!! Yet we must submit ourselves to this process if we want to continue in God and let His life show forth in us. If you long to be used by God, dont grow weary of the pruning, its designed to bring forth more of His fruit in your life. Even our Lord and Master was subject to the same processes when He walked among men as a man.
"Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after He had fasted forty days and forty nights, He then became hungry, and the tempter came and said to Him, If (since) You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread ". Matt. 3:1-3 NASB
Sounds all too familiar doesnt it. Jesus finishes His fasting, got hungry and was tempted immediately by the devil. What was the first part of the pattern? Lust of the flesh! He was appealing to Jesus need for food. Remember Eve ("When the woman saw that the tree was good for food")? He wanted Jesus to fall by changing stones to bread and feeding His fleshs desire. Remember, Jesus was tempted in the same ways we are; "for we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin." Heb 4:15 KJV
Whats next? The lust of the eyes! "Then the devil took Him into the holy city; and he had Him stand on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, if (since) You are the Son of God, throw yourself down; for it is written, " (vs. 5-6). What was he attempting to do here? I believe the "pinnacle of the temple" is symbolic of our attempts to see ourselves in a position of having attained everything, at the heights of our life, not needing God or depending upon Him for our existence; "He will give His angels charge concerning you, lest you strike your foot against a stone". Taking for granted the protection and blessing of God in our lives. Jesus responded by saying, "you shall not put the Lord your God to the test". Isnt this exactly what Adam and Eve did? Putting God to the test by eating the fruit contrary to His word and heeding the serpent; You surely shall not die!
"Again, the devil took Him to a very high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world, and their glory; and he said to Him, all these things will I give You, if You fall down and worship me " (vs. 9). "The boastful pride of life", the "I have it all, I want it all mentality". Satan was literally offering Jesus the world if He would only take the quick and easy route. To avoid the "pruning", the death of the cross. Satan knew those things belonged to Jesus already, but he was pulling the same, old trick he had played on Adam and Eve in the garden. He wanted them to take the shortcut, become like God instantly! Eat the fruit. How tempting and easy!
Avoiding the Snare
Be encouraged with whatever situation you find yourself in. God has not forgotten you and "he will never leave you, nor forsake you". If you are attempting to follow Him and learn His ways, prepare to be pruned again and again so that you can bear more fruit. It is a required cycle of growth and one we must all follow to be fruitful in Him. Dont let the enemy question the call, giftings or words God has spoken over your life. He is the "author and finisher of your faith" and will complete that which He has started. This may be the "winter" of your life but Spring is soon coming and your buds will bloom at the appointed time.
Beware of the "snare of the enemy". His evil attempts to get you to doubt the Word of God and his intentions for your life. Reject his efforts to place doubt in your mind. Purpose yourself to be like Jesus and say, "for the ruler of the world is coming, and he has nothing in me". Let your mind be renewed and transformed to the will of God and resist the pattern of temptation that plunged the whole world into sin.
"For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thought of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end". Jer. 29:11 KJV
January 30, 1997
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