Beware the Subtleties

This year, I was aware and consciously prepared for it, but the sight still provoked me to shake my head in disdain. As I shopped for some household supplies on November 1st, it was impossible to ignore that the jack-o-lanterns present in stores during the previous month had been swiftly replaced with displays of Christmas trees and ornaments. I expected this to happen, but I still hoped for a break from the parade of collateral promoting the man-made holidays so displeasing to God. There is no denying it — the stream of propaganda and celebration of uninspired days following the season of God’s true Holy Days has begun.

While we live in this world, we must be ready and prepared to defend ourselves against the carnally inspired messages, influences and temptations presented to us. The most dangerous kinds of temptations are those which are the most subtle. Participation in the wrong event, even in a marginal way, erodes our loyalty to God. With a constant stream of messages telling us that participation is harmless and that origins are irrelevant, it might be tempting to justify an action, declaring it to be innocent. Nevertheless, we must remember what God inspired in Isaiah 5:20-21: “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; Who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, And prudent in their own sight!”

Don’t be fooled! God can see through the most self-convincing rhetoric we may contrive. While this certainly applies to the participation in man’s holidays, it applies quite generally to God’s laws as well. Compromise occurs when we start interpreting right and wrong based on our own beliefs, rather than what the Bible clearly teaches. As starkly wrong as an exchange of good for evil is, it begins very subtly within ourselves by merely considering wrong behavior as harmless. If you don’t see the danger discerning between right and wrong based on our human beliefs rather than the teachings of the Bible, consider the calamities recorded in the book of Judges, during which time “everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” (Judges 21:25). The times we live in today and the way this world thinks is not so different.

While Satan may “walk about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8), we need to remember that he also “transforms himself into an angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14), preying on the carnal man’s vulnerability to things which on the surface seem harmless, good and right. The subtle compromises are the most dangerous snares to us. Those simple actions requiring a justification of the means for the sake of the end result slowly weaken the strength of our faith.

For this reason, especially as we are barraged during the season of man’s holidays, we must maintain our strength and vigilance. In Ephesians 6:10-11, Paul says this quite succinctly: “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” Our defense against temptation is only as strong as our weakest vulnerability. The whole armor of God implies completeness in several aspects, not just one. However, by identifying and continuing to improve on our weaknesses, we strengthen our defense.

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