“Satan gives Adam an apple, and takes away paradise. Therefore in all temptations consider not what he offers, but what we shall lose.” ~ Richard Sibbes, 1577–1635
Perhaps you like to think you’re street smart, not easily deceived. We all, surely, would like to think we’d do better than Adam and Eve. They fell for the worst trick in history. In eating from the forbidden tree, despite the fact that they had endless tasty treats that were permitted all around them, they lost everything.
In all our interactions in this life, we should consider well the deal that is really being offered. When we are sorely tempted by something appealing we need to understand the cost, and think through carefully what we stand to lose. Temptation offers us forbidden fruit with one hand, but takes away with the other. And has every right to do so, because by falling for temptation, we give the enemy rights. The devastation far outweighs the momentary joy that seemed so enticing. It’s the oldest trick in the book.
Don’t fall for it!
Esau wanted that bowl of stew… but lost his birthright. Samson wanted Delilah… but lost all his strength and ruined the call on his life. You might even think you’ve got away with it for a bit, but it will always catch up with us eventually. We will all reap what we sow. Just as it is in the natural, when we plant seeds they take time to gestate and grow. We might not see anything at all for a while, but it’s coming. What grows will be exactly what we planted, not anything else. And the tiny seed we started with becomes something much larger. We will reap what we sow, we will reap later than we sow, and we will reap more than we sow. Inevitably.
“Satan gives Adam an apple, and takes away paradise. Therefore in all temptations consider not what he offers, but what we shall lose.” (Richard Sibbes, 1577–1635)
Satan is a deceiver. Like a casino, if he sucks you in to play his game, he has no intention of losing. But he is intent on making sure that you do. He is bent on stealing, killing and destroying, and plays on our desires to achieve his goals. He hides the consequences and acts as if they don’t exist, or as if you’ll somehow be immune. But he’s lying. Whatever he is offering, it’s not worth it. The price tag is too high. The consequences of sin are far, far greater than we could ever understand in the moment we reach out for that apple, because it is a trick.
Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. (Galatians 6:7-8)
However, just as Paul explained to the Galatians in the verse above, this unequal deal brokering also works the other way around. The difference is that rather than trying to trick us into paying a heavy price by offering tempting morsels, God often starts by laying out the cost first. Unlike the enemy, God is upfront and upright. Trustworthy and true. He may ask something from us that we may be reluctant to give, but what we get in return far outweighs what we’ve paid for it! Again, we reap what we sow, more than we sow, and later than we sow. This applies to all the good things we sow in our spiritual lives.
Dr. Seth Postell tells this story:
A little girl sees a toy pearl necklace in a shop window, and asks her father if she can save up to buy it. He agrees if she does tasks to earn money around the house, he’ll give her pocket money to buy it. She saves and saves. At the end of the month she finally saves enough to buy it. One evening, her father tucks her up in bed and reads her a story, then asks, “Do you love me? Would you give me your necklace?” She replied, rather taken aback at the request, “No father!” The following night, the same thing. She loves her father, but she was not willing to give the necklace. The third night, she has the pearls in her hand. She says to her father that she loves him, and presses them into his hand. In response, he brings out a string of real pearls he had been keeping for her. Our God is a good Father. He longs to give us so much more than we realize. He wants us to trust Him, to trust Him so much that we are willing to sacrifice everything for Him, and to make our requests, confident in His love and grace towards us.
This is how it works with God. He asks us to surrender that which is most precious to us (consider Abraham being asked to sacrifice Isaac), but yet we end up getting the better half of the deal! You cannot lose with God. He is no one’s debtor. It’s exactly the reverse of how Satan works. We give God our very life, but then we see what God can do with it.
Are you getting a good deal? Or walking into a trap?
Just as we’ve come to learn in the natural that there are no free lunches, and that if something seems too good to be true it probably is, so it is in the spiritual. God can bring redemption even when we’ve made bad choices, and offers forgiveness, but the spiritual principle of reaping what we sow is real. We need to be wise to Satan’s schemes. There is no such thing as a cost-free life of ease. Everyone pays in the end. We cannot avoid suffering, but we can choose the type of suffering we are prepared to go through, and for what end. Jesus warned us (promised us, really) that in this world we will have trouble:
“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
You might try to lay low and avoid the trouble that comes with following Jesus, but there are consequences to choosing cowardice and convenience. Instead of reaping a whirlwind, we can determine to pay the cost right here and now, investing in eternity. “He is no fool” wrote Jim Elliott, “who gives up what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose”. Not only do we win an imperishable reward of eternal life, but it’s a deal we cannot afford to miss.
For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? (Matthew 16:26)
Jesus reminds us that matters of the soul far outweigh anything we can grasp here on earth. All the worldly wealth imaginable is not equal to one soul. Even though life in this world has many troubles, eternity holds out such great reward! No eye has seen or ear heard what is in store for us up there. In this age of deception, keep your wits about you. Don’t be fooled: it is God, not Satan, who is offering the best deal. Stay savvy!
Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash