The Guile of the Serpent
- the flesh and its lusts (internal temptation)
- the world (external temptation)
- the devil
At times we may look at these three forces and imagine that being holy is an impossibility! However, we must remember that the flesh and its lusts are limited, and the world is limited, and Satan himself is limited also. On the other hand, our beloved Lord is unlimited. So if we join ourselves to the Lord: Christ + me, the result will be victory! In our lives, we face many internal and external temptations, but if we are abiding in the Lord and committed to the Lord, then we will be triumphant, and through God’s grace, conquer all the wiles of the devil!
The Flesh and its Lusts: The first enemy we must deal with is the lusts which war within our body. And yet, our church has provided us with a solution to this inner problem:
- regeneration through Baptism
- confirmation through anointing by the Myron oil
- salvation through receiving the Holy Communion
In baptism, we were immersed in water three times, symbolising the holy Trinity. As a result of this baptism, I became ‘regenerated’ in that my old nature died, and a new nature was born; after having been physically born from my father and mother, in baptism I was reborn through the church and into the church. Having been baptised, I was then ‘confirmed’ with the holy oil of Myron 36 times. The Myron is the Holy Spirit, and so by receiving the sacrament of ‘confirmation’, I had become the possession of the Holy Spirit. 36 is symbolic in that it is the multiplication of three by 12. Three signifies the trinity and 12 signifies the disciples of the Lord. The priest anointed me with 36 crosses in the following places:
- 1 – on the head: “Lord sanctify my thoughts”
- 2 & 3 – on the nostrils
- 4 – on the mouth
- 5, 6, 7, 8 – on the two eyes and the two ears
Hence, crosses 1 – 8 are for the sanctification of the thoughts and senses
- 9 & 10 – on the heart: “Lord sanctify my heart”
- 11 & 12 – on the back: “Lord sanctify my will”
- The next set of 12 are placed on the arms – 6 crosses on each arm on the front and back of the joints (wrists, elbows, upper arms): “Lord sanctify my deeds”
- The final set of 12 are placed on the legs – 6 crosses on each leg on the front and back of the joints (ankles, knees, upper leg): “Lord sanctify my way”
Imagine! A person whose thoughts, senses, will, deeds and way have been sanctified!
Having been regenerated and confirmed in the Lord, I was then dressed in white, symbolising purity, and then a red ribbon was tied around me. This red ribbon signifies the blood of Christ, and by having it tied around me, signifies my union and commitment to the Lord who died on my behalf. Now, having been regenerated through baptism, and confirmed through the anointing by the Myron oil, I was then ready to receive the Holy Communion, for our beloved Lord says:
“Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day … He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me and I in him” (John 6:54-56).
Therefore, through these three sacraments, we are able to control and conquer, through the grace of God, our first enemy, which is the flesh and its lusts.
In the world you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
In the world today, temptation may attack through three major sources:
- the Internet
- the media
- peer pressure
Regarding the Internet, there are many positive aspects about it, such as the ability to research, learn, communicate, evangelise, chat in a positive way, and even save time through services such as Internet banking, etc. However, there are also many negative aspects, such as inappropriate surfing of site, like the pornographic sites, and the chance of becoming computer addicts. The results of computer addiction are physical unfitness and antisocial behaviour.
In like manner, the media also offers us many positive and negative things. For this reason, it is important that in our life, we apply the motto: “Select and Reject”. We must select the things which will be beneficial for us, and reject those things which lead to ruin and destruction.
Regarding peer pressure, friends can be a positive and supportive influence in our life – if they are chosen correctly. However, as the Bible tells us, bad friends corrupt good habits. For sure, bad friends can ruin your life, for through peer pressure, they may influence you to be exposed to many negative and harmful habits, such as smoking and taking drugs. For this reason, it is very important for us to take care of our senses and relations, because if we are neglectful, the devil will use these as windows through which to enter and tempt and destroy!
Although the devil is very cunning and sometimes seems impossible to defeat, the Bible clearly tells us: “Resist the devil and he will flee from you” (James 4:17). Imagine! He will flee if we resist him! He will not be able to withstand before the children of God. However, if we do not resist him, he will enter and invade.
You may ask, ‘But how can I resist the devil?’
It is through knowing that he hates you and wants to kill you. At times the devil may tempt you directly, and at other times indirectly and in a cunning way. For this reason, you must be alert and watchful. You must know and be aware of his tricks for he is your enemy – just as you would know the strategies and tactics of your war enemy. And you must know Bible verses in order to combat him. He wants to kill you spiritually, physically, emotionally. But you must resist him or else he will kill you by his poison. Resist him and he will flee. If you have the Lord dwelling within you, you will be more powerful than the devil, and the Lord will give you the strength to resist him.
Let us pray that the Lord helps us to overcome the wiles of the flesh through spiritual nourishment and partaking of the sacraments, the wiles of the world through practicing the motto ‘select and reject’, and the wiles of the devil by resisting him through the grace and power of God. Amen.