The Serpent’s Deceptions

September 29, 2020

In the Garden of Eden, the serpent pulls quite a number on Adam and Eve. Author and pastor Bob Ekblad points out that the serpent’s deception was rooted in a negative depiction of God. He writes, “According to the serpent God is not only miserly, God is a controlling power-monger, who lies to protect his supremacy.”

That is intense! And it is successful! The serpent succeeds in getting the woman to ponder and meditate and envision God as detestable.

The reality is so much different. Our God, YHWH, is loving in all His ways. The freedom and dominion He gave the man and woman were virtually limitless. What happens instead is actually a form of idolatry. The image of the true, loving God is replaced by a false image of God. The woman takes her gaze off the true God and onto something different.

In our study of Mansions of the Heart we are being reminded to gaze upon the God of love and meditate on His ways throughout our day. Drawing near to the God of love is the primary objective of the Christian life and the strongest defense against the Father of Lies—Satan.

Pastor Ekblad believes that negative images of God are what most separate people from God, and when we are distanced from God’s love we are vulnerable to seduction. In his work with inmates, Pastor Ekblad has found that the image of God and the Bible as harsh judge and strict, impossible rules (respectively) keeps many people at arms’ length from God and stuck in perpetual cycles of self-defeating behaviors.

As the people of God, let’s ALWAYS gaze upon the God of LOVE and thus fortify ourselves against Satan’s deceptions to distract, divide, and defeat us.

As many of you know, I am now in the third year of my doctoral program at Fuller Seminary in “Recovery Ministry”.  When I saw this degree program being offered I jumped at the opportunity to apply for it because I saw the relevance to our own church’s ministry (the context of who and where we serve).  The program has been awesome and the books, classes, and interaction with fellow students and professors very informative.

Here at the start of year three I find myself with the task of completing another 4500 pages of reading by January 6.  It would be quite intimidating and a little bit depressing if the books weren’t so darn good!!! 

This week I started reading a book titled Becoming a Church that Cares Well for the Abused.  In this book I am learning that people who have suffered abuse at the hands of family members or trusted authority figures (coaches, pastors, teachers, doctors, etc.) lose the concepts needed to understand the Gospel—things like love, trust, and sacrifice.  Rachael Denhollander describes how those concepts have often been redefined by the abusers as weapons for great evil.  It is important that we who would present the Gospel (meaning ALL OF US) understand how to apply the Gospel to this damage in a way that makes it truly “good news”.

Co-author Darby Strickland writes, “We need to remember that God delivers HIs people not just from their own sin but also from injustices.  When God speaks to Moses out of the burning bush, He says “I am the God of your fathers, I have observed the misery of my people, I have heard their cry on account of their oppressors.  I know their sufferings, and I have come down to deliver them.’ God introduces Himself to His people as their deliverer and protector.  God asks His people repeatedly in Scripture to work for justice and righteousness.  This is who we, as worshippers of God, are told to be—people who do justice.  God calls us to confront oppression but also to provide protection and care for the vulnerable.  We see Jesus doing these things.  He identifies with the powerless, takes up their cause, and stands against those who do harm to the vulnerable.  This is who we are to be, deliverers and protectors.”

May we be a church for all people, but especially for the hurting, lonely, and abused.  Amen.