Today, as I woke up, I simply asked God to lay something on my heart to share with you. I believe He simply said, “Remember there was a serpent in Eden.” I guess today I am issuing a sort of warning. I prefer not to speak in a warning tone, but if you walked past someone sitting in a house that was on fire, it would be the loving thing to do to shout as loud as you could to them in no uncertain terms, “Get out of there, right now! You are in danger!” I don’t think that after escaping they would say to the messenger of their danger, “Could you not have spoken to me a bit more gently and kindly. You frightened me!”
It is always best to try and speak to people in tones of God’s kindness. At the same time it is interesting that in 1 Timothy Chapter 3 verse 16 Paul says, “All Scripture is God breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting….” It is perhaps in a combination of these 3 words that I want to speak to you today through this word, “Remember there was a snake in Eden.” I am sure it was no coincidence that when I opened my bible today for my daily reading, that within a few verses I came across these words: “I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the Serpent’s cunning your minds may somehow be led astray….” 1 Corinthians Chapter 11 verse 3.
It is a while since this has happened to me with regard to blogging, but I feel that perhaps there are some who read this blog who need a warning today. You may think you are standing well for the Lord, but that can be such a dangerous moment that Scripture tells us when that is our estimation of our state, we need to take heed and to walk carefully at such times lest we fall.
I don’t want to turn this into a sermon but just to pass on the specific warning I feel the Lord gave me: you will never have such a level of victory, or such an overwhelming spiritual experience that you can forget about the Serpent. He was in a perfect garden. He sought opportunities to come into the life of the perfect Sinless One, Jesus Christ. The first thought that came to mind after that word from the Lord to me this morning, was of a man I knew who was in a backslidden state. He said that if only God met him in an overwhelming way, he knew he would never go astray again. I was there the night he was prayed for and he did receive a wonderful overwhelming experience of the love of His Heavenly Father. He repeated his conviction that now he would never ever go astray. Within a week he had fallen out with the Church, with the Lord, with me as minister and he was never seen in church again in all the years I remained in that place as minister. He kept his wife and family from attending too. His case has not been unique in my experience. I could name a short list of people who have indeed tasted of the power of the age to come but then fallen away. I saw them receive and I saw them walk away. This is perhaps my only remaining sadness as a parish minister and preacher of the gospel. For every other type of sadness I can find hope. The bible tells me however that it is impossible to restore to repentance those who have tasted of the powers of the age to come, but then fall away. I am so glad the Lord has not left it to us to know for sure when someone has crossed that line, but he does warn us that it is a real possibility. He does not give empty promises or warnings.
Whenever I hear someone say something like. “Well, the devil will never get me that way again…” I shudder with a shudder I have felt at similar sounding announcements . Let me repeat there was a Serpent in the very garden which God had made and pronounced good. There was nothing wrong with the garden, any more than there was something wrong or doubtful or questionable about the goodness of the experience of the Spirit the man I have just told you about was blessed with. One of the gifts of the Spirit is the gift of discernment of spirits, which helps us know what is of God, what is of the devil and what is of the flesh. It is a gift that is one hundred percent accurate unlike prophecy. It has to be, because one can do incalculable harm if one attributes something to the wrong source. If you don’t have that gift, if it is not something that you know operates in you as a gift that you have never earned or learned, then ask God for that gift. Sometimes we have not because we ask not. The experience that man had was a genuine experience of the Holy Spirit of God. The Spirit Himself bore witness to the genuineness of what was happening. The lesson is clear but let me repeat it: there is no spiritual experience no matter how wonderful and genuine that means we can forget about the Serpent. Again I remind you of what I have already said, that the bible tells us that when we think we are standing tall and strong, we should take heed, lest we fall. I am not being kill joy, rather as Rev. Jim Graham so frequently says when he is teaching the Bible, “I did not write this stuff. I am only telling you what it says!”
Most pastors speak to those who are struggling in order to help them up the way and on the way. Today in the Name of Christ I am speaking to those who may feel that you are in a good place spiritually, who may even feel that you are on the heights spiritually. Beware! Take a warning! The serpent can turn up in beautiful places, beautiful moments and beautiful people. Walk carefully and humbly with God in this particular season of blessing and always, lest like Eve in a perfect garden and many more men and women since, you too are deceived.
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