Most of us have heard something about the persecution faced by Christians in other lands. North Korea, China, India, and Iran are just some of the nations that are notorious for using political, economic, and social pressure to make it difficult to follow the Lord. But religious persecution is not new. Satan has used that tool for centuries. But it is not his only strategy and may not be his most effective. In our nation and others, Satan has found seduction to be an effective tool.
Satan’s seduction is more than immoral sexual activity. It is enticing people to believe in or to act in a way that is wrong.
Both persecution and seduction come under the heading of temptation. The Bible has much to say about temptation. It is common to all. We cannot escape it. God gives us tools to overcome it. The Lord taught us to pray, “Lead us not into temptation.” Temptation tries to take the heart out of Christian living, but not always by direct attack. Persecution uses fear to encourage or demand that we deny, hide, or weaken our relationship with the Lord. Seduction uses our own normal human need, desires, and wishes to encourage us to water down our relationship with the Lord and to be ineffective Christians.
In our country in the past, Christians have experienced some persecution. Undoubtedly, in the future, believers in the United States will experience increased persecution. Today, seduction seems to be Satan’s best tool in our land. Satan can use an advertising industry to make us want more, newer, or better. He has a political system in play that on the one hand seems unresponsive to our needs. Yet, on the other hand, it offers us the promise that the next set of leaders will solve all our problems. More, Satan uses our nation’s media and entertainment industries to stimulate our baser desires, anger, lust, self-interest, and desire to escape.
In the familiar parable of the sower, Jesus identified those who have received the gospel but are then seduced by Satan’s use of their desires. As Mark recorded it, Jesus referred to these folks as those “who have heard the word, but the worries of the world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful (Mark 4:18-19, NASB).
This parable is not about who is saved and who is not. It is about effectiveness. And that is the “crunch” today in our nation. Millions of us give the correct answers to surveys and so testify that we are Christians. We believe, we pray, we go to church, etc. But these same surveys note that too many of us think the same way, have the same values, want the same things as our unbelieving neighbors, i.e., we are ineffective as Christ’s salt and light. We blame the times in which we live, the crises, etc. for not living consecrated lives when the truth is we are far too interested in ourselves, our standard of living, our future instead of in the Lord’s work.
Satan is seducing Christians; but the Bible has an answer (several answers). One verse gets at what Satan uses to entice us and how we can let the Lord defend us: “Delight yourself in the LORD; And He will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4 NASB).
Human beings have desires. God built them into us. They are not immoral in themselves. They are not to be repressed or ignored to the point we lose touch with our humanity. But when we delight in the Lord, not simply believe or think about God or, even, worship, it is safe for God to give us the desires of our heart. Until then, Satan may give us the desires of our heart.