2000-01-26 - Who Wants to be a Millionaire?
Ephesians 6:11 (NLT) Put on all of God's armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies and tricks of the Devil.
I love games and game shows. I can remember as a child watching "The Price is Right", "Wheel of Fortune" and other game shows. The allure is my very competitive desire to win. I love just about any kind of competition. From Go Fish, Chutes and Ladders, Monopoly, Chess, Sporting Events to coaching Little League, I love to win. Lately, my family and I have been watching ABC's "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?" It has been good family fun, as the questions start out easy enough for my seven-year-old to answer; then they progress to more difficult questions. So everyone can have fun guessing the answers in the comfort of our home. I have to confess I really get into this show, yelling the answers at the TV (like the contestant can hear me!). I want the person to win; yet when they lose, especially when I know the answer, I berate them! Go figure that out!
Satan plays a similar game, but the consequences are far more serious than losing a TV game show. Listen up folks, Satan is a master of schemes, games, disguises, and he only wants to win. He is the great deceiver. When Satan wins, we lose. He has been around longer than us, used more tricks, seen it all, heard it all and done it all. If Satan had a game show, I think the title would be "Who wants to be a sinner?" None of us want to be a sinner, but we are. Satan cheers us on to sin. He uses various methods. With Eve, he created doubt. "Did God really say you could not eat fruit from that tree?" "Are you sure about that Eve?" He also used deception and desire. He does the same to us: "Is it really a sin to ________?" You fill in the blank. Is it really that bad? Now, watch this carefully. With all his power, Satan lures us to sin. Then if we fall to the temptation, what does Satan do? He says, "I can't believe you took the bait." And of course, now Satan is trying to burden us with guilt and make us feel unworthy of God's love. He pulls for us to sin, (just like I pull for the game show player to win), then he berates us for losing. He says, "Aw man, I can't believe you did that! I can't believe that was your final answer!"
In contrast, God never tempts us. He does test us. Temptations come to make us bad. Tests come to make us good. God is pulling for us to pass tests. God wants us to grow through the experiences that He allows us to go through. He wants our final answer to be yes to Him. God wants us to win. Satan is pulling for us to fail the temptation. He only wants us to lose. And when we lose, he piles on the guilt.
Knowing the difference between a temptation and a test helps us to grow in our walk with Christ. And that is the goal on this side of Heaven, continuing to grow stronger through our struggles and growing closer to the One Who loves us, and further away from the one who hates us.
Proverbs 2:6-11 (NLT) For the LORD grants wisdom! From his mouth come knowledge and understanding. 7 He grants a treasure of good sense to the godly. He is their shield, protecting those who walk with integrity. 8 He guards the paths of justice and protects those who are faithful to him. 9 Then you will understand what is right, just, and fair, and you will know how to find the right course of action every time. 10 For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will fill you with joy. 11 Wise planning will watch over you. Understanding will keep you safe.
Father- we love You so much. Thank You for pulling for us, for cheering us on. Thank You for loving us even when we fail. Forgive us for our failures. Grant us Your wisdom to resist the great deceiver. We thank You for the tests that come our way, because we know You only want us to win and to grow closer to You. In Christ's name, Amen.