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DAILY Devotion

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 summer day.

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 our lives.

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 Hell."

Good Vibrations

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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