Satan's First Trick

"The problem with the world is there are too many powder-puff Christians."

This was told to me recently by a preacher of a non-denominational church. It coincides with a shift I've noticed in the Christian community over the last decade and a half, and seems to have accelerated after the events of 9/11. A lot of Christians do not want to be seen as gentle, caring, loving, forgiving, or meek, and opt for more of a tough-guy image. That is human nature after all, to be perceived as strong and domineering.

But did Jesus ever instruct us to be mild-mannered and meek?

Matthew 5:5 "Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth."

Matthew 5:7 "Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy."

Matthew 5:9 "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God."

Matthew 5:11-12 "Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you."

Matthew 5:39 "But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also."

Matthew 5:44 "But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you."

And there are a few other verses from the Bible.

Proverbs 17:17 A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity.

John 15:13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends.

Luke 6:35 But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.

Proverbs 16:7 When the Lord takes pleasure in anyone's way, he causes their enemies to make peace with them.

Ephesians 4:32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

1 Corinthians 13:4-7 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres..

1 Peter 4:8 Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.

Colossians 3:12 Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.

There's certainly seems to be a general theme throughout the Bible of how Christians should act, so how is it that Christians can justify acting the opposite? One way is to use certain actions of Jesus. After all, we've all seen the popular bumper sticker that says "What Would Jesus Do?" As great a bumper sticker as that is, however, it does not ask the right question. The right question is, "What did Jesus instruct us to do?"

I've heard a lot of Christians use the events in Matthew 21, where Jesus turned over the tables of the money changers in the temples, to defend being aggressive, rude, and even violent. But here's the problem: we are not on the same level as Jesus. There are an infinite amount of levels between us and Him. And never did He instruct His disciples or followers to do as He does and not as He says.

A year ago I was shocked during a debate amongst a group of Christians when one kept calling other Christians names; names like "fool" and "idiot" and "retard" to name a few. When I explained that wasn't a Christian thing to do, he argued by using Matthew 23 as his defense where Jesus had several harsh words for the scribes and Pharisees.

In fact, from Matthew 23:13-33, Jesus referred to them as hypocrites, blind guides, blind fools, snakes, and brood of vipers. The guy's argument was that since Jesus was without sin and he called people names, then it must not be a sin for Christians to call people names.

It almost seems logical, but it isn't. Jesus had the ability to see into people's hearts, so He wasn't dishing out childish names here; He could identify them for what they were. That is not a gift that God blessed us with, so when we do it, it's just being rude and judgmental.

When people start using the actions of Jesus to ignore the teachings of Jesus, they are attempting to lift themselves up to the same level as Jesus. And if you think about it, that was Satan's first trick, to make us believe we can be like God.

Genesis 3:1-5
Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, "Did God really say, 'You must not eat from any tree in the garden'?"

The woman said to the serpent, "We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, 'You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.'"

"You will not certainly die," the serpent said to the woman. "For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil."

It would appear that Satan's first trick is still his best. I guess if it ain't broke, don't fix it.

*All Bible verses are from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.