Satan's Disguise

Satan doesn’t swoop in with horns and a pitchfork. He sneaks in with justifications, selfishness, and complacency. Eventually, after giving in to one small compromise after another, we find ourselves abandoning the simple way of Jesus and living a life full of complex explanations, worthless excuses, and/or general apathy. Although we would never admit that because we have justified away all of the selfishness and complacency to fit nicely in the idol we call Jesus but is nothing like Him.

I’m sure we all know people whose lives have fallen apart. Bad decisions have placed them on the wrong course, and they seem incapable to put their life back in gear. Maybe you are that person that needs to get your life together. If so, there is hope. For starters, the honesty to admit that your life has been misguided and is off course is the beginning to fixing it.

For those who think they have it all together, it’s easy to point at “those people” whose lives are in shambles. But what about ourselves? I see many church people who have found themselves caught up into all sorts of legalism, spiritual selfishness, and an uncaring attitude toward the suffering in this world. They are just as lost as the person on the easy to diagnose wrong course, but their situation is worse because they don’t notice the predicament they are in.

The other day we were cutting a board at my house. My friend came over with his saw and a chalk line. The chalk line sets the path that the blade is to follow. You line it up and snap it down. It creates a nice line of chalk between two points.

It’s easier to stay on the right course when it is clearly laid out. When it comes to our spiritual lives, it’s difficult to find every nook and cranny that will lead us down the wrong course. But what if, instead of fearing the wrong course, we focused solely on the good course.

Jesus is our chalk line. A line between us and the us that God wants us to be. Anything in our lives that distracts us from living a life of love in Jesus and imitating the sacrifice that He modeled for us is off course. It could be a mini justification to do something that is wrong. It could be just a slight excuse to live selfishly. It could be a complacent blind eye toward a little injustice.

Eventually, if we continue to justify and stray, we find ourselves off course. Each little compromise adds up. If we are too far off course, we may stop looking at the chalk line. The good news is that off in the distance Jesus is hanging there, up high, so that we can see Him no matter how deep of a valley we might find ourselves in.

Jesus taught, “The most important [commandment] is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these” [Mark 12:29-31 (ESV)].

So whether we find ourselves in a self-righteous, spiritually selfish valley or a chasm of despair and hopelessness, Jesus is the way. That is not just some abstract metaphor. It is a proclamation that we are to live the life Jesus designed us to live. That is what it means to be saved. If the people who claim to be followers of Jesus would stop giving in to little justifications, acts of spiritual selfishness, and turning a blind eye to the injustice of this world and started living the life Jesus saved us for, then the world would see Jesus.

May we learn to love the way He loved and love our neighbors as we love ourselves.