September 27, 2011 Ė Snake Charmers or Charming Snakes?
Behold! I have given you authority and power to trample upon serpents and scorpions, and [physical and mental strength and ability] over all the power that the enemy [possesses]; and nothing shall in any way harm you. Ė Luke 10:19 AMP
Jesus in this verse is speaking figuratively of the power Christians have over the devil. If we are truly committed to Him, thereís nothing the devil can throw at us that will harm us in any way. Now before I go any further let me tell you that when I see a snake I turn into an eight year old school girl. I scream at the top of my lungs in my best soprano impersonation and every hair on my body stands on end. I cannot stand the things. No matter how big or small, when I get my wits about myself I look for a yard tool, stick, or anything else that will help me kill it. And I continually trample that snake like thereís still life in him even when heís been cut to pieces.
Back in my television watching days I remember seeing many stories on news shows where some churches took this snake thing literally. The preacher would be in the pulpit delivering the sermon with a boa constrictor around his neck; then out of the blue the snake would coil up around his neck, torso, or arm and try to kill him. The ones on the news always had a happy ending in that the preacher did not die. At the end of these stories my reaction was always the same: what an idiot! I really donít think Jesus meant for us all to become snake charmers.
What I do believe to be an excellent demonstration of what Jesus meant in this verse is found in Acts Chapter Twenty-Eight, when Paul is bitten by a viper. He shakes the snake from his hand, throws it in the fire, and suffers no ill effects from the bite. He trampled the snake that attacked him and was unharmed. This is a literal attack from a literal snake, but there are also figurative attacks from figurative snakes coming at Christians every day.
In addition to snake charmers, we should all be on the lookout for what I call charming snakes in our lives. These snakes can come in the forms of evil desire in our lives but can also come from inside church walls. A bottle of liquor is a charming snake to a recovering alcoholic. An illegal business deal promising a quick and easy return is a charming snake in the form of greed. And a pastor with a large personal following who bends and twists Scripture for his own personal gain is a charming snake in and of himself.
Marlo and I fielded questions this weekend from our son Reagan about a prominent figure in American history. Our history books portray this man in a godly way and tell about how he helped grow our country closer together in difficult times. It prompted us to do a bit of research on this man and after just a few minutes my perception of him had changed completely. He may be portrayed in history as godly, but the facts simply showed him as one of the charming snakes of his day. It really is a shame, but I am glad I finally know the truth.
The great thing about all of this is that we have the power to also trample charming snakes in our lives. Whether it is the liquor bottle or the conniving preacher, Jesus has given us authority over them all, but like other things in our walk with God, we have to choose to use the authority Jesus has given us and not sit idly by while we wait for a miracle.
Paul chose to flip the snake in the fire. He didnít kill the snake and examine it to see if it was poisonous and try to find an antidote. He threw it in and trusted in God. In the same manner we have to act then trust. The recovering alcoholic has to not pick up the bottle he sees and must trust in God that he is free from the stuff. The greedy Christian has to say no to the illegal business deal and trust God to bless the work of his hands. And we all have to turn our backs to the charming snake in the pulpit and trust in God to guide our path and break his forked tongue.
How do we do this? Sure, it would be fun in a way to throw all this into a fire, only I can tell you from personal experience that the smell of burning flesh is one youíll never forget. But when we say no and kill these charming snakes in our minds we do throw them into a fire. They are burned away in our minds. And although we do not forget them, we have the experience of these times to reflect back on and know that those times are something we will not ever revisit. So whether it is a snake charmer or a charming snake thatís in your life, trample them and be rid of them once and for all. Then and only then will your life be more charming than ever.