A. A magician’s trick is often made possible through diverting the attention of the viewers first and that allows him to pull out something under his coat without being noticed. He uses distractions to deceive.
B. The Devil also uses distractions to deceive and draw Christians away from God. One of his schemes is to offer something pleasurable.
Eph 6:11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
What is the “the wiles of the devil?
The word rendered “wiles” (μεθοδεία methodeia), means properly that which is traced out with “method.”
Meaning rendered here as “wiles,” meaning cunning devices, arts, attempts to delude and destroy us. The wiles “of the devil” are the various arts and stratagems which he employs to drag souls down to perdition.
Satan does not meet the Christian soldier face to face. He advances covertly; makes his approaches in darkness; employs cunning rather than power, and seeks rather to delude and betray than to vanquish by mere force.
He approaches us not in repulsive forms, but comes to recommend some plausible doctrine, to lay before us some temptation that shall not immediately repel us. He presents the world in an alluring aspect; invites us to pleasures that seem to be harmless, and leads us in indulgence until we have gone so far that we cannot retreat. (Barnes)
One of the wiles of the devil is to lure us with pleasure. There are two ways that Satan uses pleasures to draw us away from God:
A. Commit sinful acts from which we derive pleasure – drugs, drunkenness, gambling, and all forms of sexual sins – fornication, adultery, etc.
We know it is a sinful activity but we still do it because of the pleasure.
B. Seek pleasure for instead seeking God – giving ourselves to pleasure, not worship God because we need to participate in a sport event or watch a movie.
It is not sinful activity but when we worship it or become addicted to it, we sinned.
There are so many fun activities in Singapore, e.g. social interactions, sports, arts, movies and computer games. Some of these are not sinful but some are. Some are harmless but Christians could sin by being a servant to them.
Satan tempts us with the love of pleasures.
A. The Snare of Pleasure
Satan always uses this scheme. He uses cunning schemes to trap us, e.g. money, food, beauty and pleasure. Pleasure is desirable, pain is not. Few will reject having fun and pleasure. E.g. entertainments, movies, music, sports, travel - are pleasurable.
Stifles the Soul
Luke 8:14 And that which fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection.
Luke 8:15 But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience.
Slays the Soul
1Ti 5:5 Now she that is a widow indeed, and desolate, trusteth in God, and continueth in supplications and prayers night and day.
1Ti 5:6 But she that liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth.
Comment: Here it implies that the widow lived in sinful pleasures and become spiritually dead. It is tempting for a widow who might feel lonely to be tempted to sin. The contrast to “living in pleasure” is to trust God and continue is prayer – a godly life.
The love of pleasure – used to trap us and cause us to sin and to be eternally lost.
B. The Servitude of Pleasure
Besides being a snare of sin, pleasure can also make us his servants.
We become servants of pleasure when…
Lover of Pleasures
2Ti 3:1 This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.
2Ti 3:2 For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,
2Ti 3:3 Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,
2Ti 3:4 Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;
2Ti 3:5 Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.
We love pleasures more than God, e.g. when Christians expend more time, energy and money on entertainments, sports or recreations than to worship and serve God.
The Church is not spared of this device. We read of churches providing pleasure to attract people (organised a screening of World Cup). Some churches entertain people in worship than worship in spirit and in truth, e.g. churches provide entertainment and great music to attract young people and advertise in billboard “come and enjoy a spectacular worship experience”.
Lover of the World
1Jn 2:15 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
1Jn 2:16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.
1Jn 2:17 And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.
Some Christians go back to the world. They love the world more than God, e.g. pursue materialism.
When churches let the world in, they behave like people in the world. They honour the rich and despises the poor or seek to excel in a worldly ways.
The love of pleasure – causes us to worship and serve pleasure than God.
C. The Salvation from Pleasure
How can we be free from the snare and servitude of pleasure? The salvation from pleasure is the salvation of our souls. Adam and Eve sinned because they see the forbidden fruit was “good for food” and “pleasant to the eyes”. It is a pleasure to eat delicious food. We will go for the best food that we can afford. Beautiful things and places are great to behold and it is a pleasure to travel and see scenic sights. There is nothing wrong in it, till we sinned when doing it.
The salvation of our soul deals with the “sin problem”. Jesus Christ who came and died for our sins provides the solution to our sin. How?
Made Us New
Without Christ, we lived in sin. We do not know how to get rid of sins and be right with God.
Tit 3:3 For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another.
Tit 3:4 But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared,
Tit 3:5 Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;
The Gospel is the light in darkness. The way to be freed from our sins through seeking the forgiveness of our sins and the salvation of our souls. We need to obey the Gospel.
Keep Us New
How to keep new and not be a lover of pleasure?
How to overcome the sin of pleasure?
a. Repent of our Sins
We should review how we spend our time on pleasure. Is watching football or shopping a pleasure? Yes. Is there anything wrong with these if you were to put God first and did not sin? If our pleasure is sinful then we need to repent and change, e.g. you were involve in betting which team in a football match will win or you were spending your kid’s pocket money buying luxuries for yourself.
Sin is REAL and recognisable. We often think that “To err is human”, but it is not acceptable to God that we stay unrepentant if we know we have sinned. If we don’t admit it, we will continue in it. When we repent of it, we stop doing it
Eph 4:17 This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind,
Eph 4:18 Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart:
Eph 4:19 Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.
Eph 4:20 But ye have not so learned Christ;
Eph 4:21 If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus:
When we realise that we have sinned, we should stop and turn to serve God.
b. Renew our Thinking
It is our thinking that determines our direction. If we think that God does not know what we do and do not mind what we do, we will probably continue to sin.
Some people are indifferent to how they behave and how they affect others. They talked loudly in the MRT train. They throw all the food on the table and do not clear them. They littered and expect others to clean up after them. If there is no change in thinking or attitude, there will be no change.
The Bible teaches us to put away the “old man” or sinful person and put on the “new man” or godly person. Recognise the need to change and set your mind to change!
Eph 4:22 That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts;
Eph 4:23 And be renewed in the spirit of your mind;
Eph 4:24 And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.
Eph 4:25 Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another.
Eph 4:26 Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath:
Eph 4:27 Neither give place to the devil.
It is a deliberated decision to say “stop” and “turn”. We are not going back to our sinful way. We will not allow Satan to enter our lives and create havocs.
c. Replace our Actions
Many sinful pleasures are habitual and addictive. Like computer games, they are designed to get you hooked. Or a Korean serial drama, once you started watching it will keep you wanting to watch the next episode. So is drinking alcoholic drink, you cannot have enough of it till you get drunk and you keep going back for more.
We need to replace what we do that is sinful with something good. Go out jogging when it is TV time. Go eat with friends who don’t drink. Seek doctor’s help if you are addicted to computers, gambling or drinking.
Eph 4:28 Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.
Eph 4:29 Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.
Eph. 4:30 And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.
Eph 4:31 Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice:
Eph 4:32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.
To get out of the pleasure “trap”, we need to replace our sinful actions with the right actions. We have to make a deliberate choice on how we spend our time and what we do.
Satan uses pleasures to snare us. When we are led by our lust and trapped, we become servants to the sin of pleasures. The salvation from sinful pleasures is in Christ Jesus and to follow God’s way.
The Marshmallow Experiment – They put a child in a room with a marshmallow and tell him not to eat it. If they don’t, they will get two pieces. One child ate the piece almost immediately after the adult left the room. Another took a small bit of it because she could not control herself. Yet another child waited and did not eat. He was rewarded with two pieces when the adult returned to the room.
This is about self-control and also believing in promises. If you take the first piece, you will not have the second piece. The second piece, is like the eternal reward of God for staying faithful and not been tempted by the pleasures of this world.
The pleasure of the world is great, we could go out and get it now! But you will lose you eternal reward (a better reward).
Choose not to be tempted by exercising discipline and self-control.
Heb 11:10 For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.
Heb 11:25 Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season;
How about you? What do you choose?