Dealing with the Snakes
By Laura J. Bagby
If there is a snake to be found, chances are the snake will
find me or I will manage to find it.
Meeting Mr. Snakey-poo
The first time I discovered this phenomenon I was working as an employee
at Yosemite National Park, on a hike with a friend and fellow missionary
to find the "Hidden Falls" in the heat of a typical dry and dusty
While hiking on a trail lined by granite boulders, a welcome
habitat for warmth-seeking snakes, I wasn't thinking about the legless
reptiles, though I should have been. No, I was determined to find
that waterfall, despite my friend's waning enthusiasm and better judgement.
I blindly pressed on until I was literally stopped in my tracks by
a snake that had slithered out from under a boulder not two feet in
front of me. I let out a blood-curdling scream at the sight of my
enemy, a wail so powerful it boomeranged around the mountain valley
in a series of thundering echoes.
The snake must have felt the vibrations
(snakes can't actually hear the vibrations, because they don't have
ears), recognized the threat, and retreated back under the boulder
whence it came -- but not before delivering a powerful and unforgettable
message: the rattling of its tail. I had nearly stepped on a poisonous
rattlesnake, one that minutes before had not been a part of my world.
When Snakes Take Up Residence
Sin is like that poisonous snake. It exists for a long time unnoticed
as it slithers through our thoughts, and with time, holes up in the
comfort of our souls, until the Holy Spirit reveals our sinfulness
to us as we are praying, reading the Bible, and/or listening to the
wise words of other Bible-believing Christians.
When we pray as David
prayed, "Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my
anxious thoughts; see if there is any offensive way in me, and lead
me in the way everlasting" (Psalm 139:23-24), we can expect the Holy
Spirit to show us those ugly snakes that have taken up residence in
The first time the Holy Spirit enables us to recognize a lie or a
slanderous word or drunkenness or unfaithfulness to a spouse or lust
or idolatry or a host of other evils as what it they actually are
-- SIN --we may shriek in terror. We had no idea the little things
that we brush off as human nature, as someone else's fault, as gender-driven
behavior, as personality quirks, or as our rights could be considered
sin. And we never imagined that those little sins could become so
incredibly dangerous, enough to eventually kill us.
Fortunately, we don't have to shake in fear or hide in shame in the
light of these revelations. We need only call sin sin, repent, and
gain forgiveness. It says in 1 John 1:9, "If we confess our sins,
he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us
from all unrighteousness." Also, in James 4:7, the Bible tells us,
"Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee
from you." Bye-bye Mr. Snakey-poo.
But what happens when we choose not to deal with our sins right away?
Do they go away? Unfortunately, no. Sin that has not been dealt with
will only increase in harmfulness. We may, as Ephesians 4:27 warns
us, give Satan a foothold.
In seeking to understand what it means
to make Satan a foothold, I have taken the liberty of quoting from
the American Heritage College Dictionary. Entry two defines foothold
as "a firm or secure position that provides a base for further advancement."
We certainly don't want to give the devil a stable base to continue
this sin business, because if we let him continue, we know that little
bitty snake of a sin will end up killing us in the end. James 1:15
says, "Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and
sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death." Sin grows and evolves
and multiplies if left entrenched.
So how exactly do we root out those sins that "so easily entangle"
as Paul wrote in Hebrews 12:1 once they've taken up what seems like
permanent residence? We certainly can't rely on our own wisdom. Proverbs
3:5-6 says, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on
your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will
make your paths straight."
When we can't seem to break free from the cycle of sin, we have to
give the old snake some good vibrations, the kind brought on by faith
in the Lord Jesus Christ, our Victor, and watch that snake retreat.
Get ready to rumble. Get ready to stamp that snake with a "return
to sender" notice: "Please send straight back to Satan's lair at 666
This isn't a mystical thing. Good vibrations are simply the powerful
results that naturally occur when we put our total trust in the power
of the name of Jesus Christ, when we speak the Word of the Lord boldly
in the face of our foe as Jesus did when faced with Satan in the wilderness,
when we sing praises to His name, when we pray fervently and unceasingly
to God for His deliverance, and when we shout in victory and boldness
the wonders and workings of our Lord Jesus Christ. When we do these
things, snakes feel the good vibrations of God's chosen people, get
scared, and leave.
Scripture details several such righteous rumblings.
The faithful shouts of Joshua's military troop sent the walls of
Jericho crashing to the earth, bringing Israel victory over her enemies
in Joshua 6.
Acts 16 tells the incredible account of Paul and Silas, who were
imprisoned for their faith. One night as they were praying and singing
hymns to God, the Bible says, "Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake
that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all of the
prison doors flew open, and everybody's chains came loose" (v. 26).
Prayer and praise had literally opened a way to freedom.
We know that at the moment of our Lord Jesus Christ's death, the
temple curtain that had separated the Holy Place from the Most Holy
Place Holy, which was placed there because of our unrighteousness,
was ripped in two from top to bottom, enabling us to come before the
throne of God by the blood of Jesus. It's there in Mark 15:37-38.
A little stomping and shouting, a little rocking and rolling, and
many enemies have been conquered in the name of the Lord. And, yes,
that includes sin in your life.
Be on the lookout for those snakes.
Ask the Holy Spirit to show you those sins that are crawling in your
soul. And then root the vipers out. Repent of your sins, resist the
devil, and persist in prayer, praise, and proclamation of the power
and authority of Jesus Christ. And then praise the Lord for the victorious
deliverance He has brought. Hallelujah!
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