“Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God.” For God cannot be tempted by evil and He himself does not tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when He is carried away and enticed by His own lusts. Then when lust has been conceived it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death.” (Jam. 1:13-14 NASB)
Rattling around in the back of my truck is my bait bag. It’s an old black husky tool bag I received from a friend a number of years ago. The bag itself is not all that impressive, but what it contains is a unique mixture of baits and lures. Jars, bottles, and bags filled with feathers, meat products, animal gland extracts, beaver castor, urine, and an assortment of other seemingly unpleasant fluids and substances. The odor emanating from that bag is enough to gag most people. The recent purchase of a pungent skunk based bait has caused me to banish my bait bag from the cab to the truck bed. Bless my wife for putting up with my less than savory winter time hobby.
For all my baits’ obscurities, each one of them has a purpose. Every stink, smell, and gut-wrenching odor, elicits a specific response in the animal it is targeting. Beaver castor-which is harvested from beavers- emanates a strong, but very unique and, I’d say, pleasant aroma. Such a smell peaks an animal’s curiosity. They want to know what that smell is so they investigate it. However, a gland lure can elicit quite a different response. A fox gland, if sniffed by a coyote, incites anger and a territorial instinct. Foxes and coyotes battle for territory, and the coyote, being the larger animal, will kill and eat whatever smaller canine tries to invade their spot. Yet, a coyote gland lure, in the right season can elicit a ‘romantic’ response. The coyotes desire to mate will draw that animal to the ‘lure’. As they hope that it may lead them to a sexually receptive female. Urines, bring out the territorial instinct. Like any dog, a coyote will find where another animal has urinated, and try to mark over it. Then of course there's the smell of food. That triggers the animals natural desire to eat.
Each one of these baits & lures, pray on a different part of the animal’s natural instincts. As a trapper, my goal is to use the right combination of lures and baits to attract that animal to my set. If I get it right, the scent will entice its natural desires and ‘carry’ the animal to where the trap is set. Then I got him.
The other night I was on my phone mindlessly scrolling through Facebook. A bedtime ritual I recently developed in the last 14 years. ;) I had commented on a person’s post, and another social media commentator puffed my ego by agreeing with me. Deeming that this person’s wisdom and good taste may earn them a future ‘friend request’ I began the process of stalking their page. My opinion of them quickly changed when my eyes were assaulted with the photo of a surgically enhanced female. Her anatomy was ‘covered’ but her clothing and intent left nothing to the imagination. Ugh! I immediately left the page and scrolled on.
Satan is no dummy. As I said in a previous post, he is an incredible trapper. His minions study us, follow us, observe our every step, and take whatever advantage they can to trap us in sin. He knows what our flesh desires and what it takes to lure us to his sets. That night he sought to elicit my pride- “look how that person agreed with my astute social media response,” the lust of my eyes- placed a provocative image before me, and my flesh-sought to illicit a sexual desire that would lead me further down the path of porn and sexual fantasy. By God’s grace I wasn’t trapped. I mean that, it was God’s grace. In times past, I haven’t fared as well. I’ve fallen down that hole, and my testimony is one of God releasing me from those steely jaws of pornography. Years ago, he planted deep in my heart a love for Christ, and fear of hurting him & my wife. That has helped to keep me pure, but I know my flesh. I know what its capable of and I don’t dare think I’m above all that now. If we are to keep from being enticed by Satan’s baits we must recognize a few things.
Recognize the desire to sin is in you: That’s what James said in the verse at the beginning of this blog (James 1:13-14). It can be embarrassing to admit, but our flesh likes to sin. It desires it. As natural as it is to desire sleep, food, love and friendship, our flesh wants to do things that are rebellious against God. It is wrong to try and blame God for sin, but people try. As well, Satan doesn’t make us sin, he simply plays on the desires that WE already have within us. Sin is our fault, because it’s our problem. We have the desires and we choose whether or not we will succumb to them. Sin is our fault.
Recognize Satan’s Lures: A lure prays on a creatures’ natural desires. Satan knows what these are in us. In 1 John 2:15-17 we are warned about three worldly lures that Satan uses to tempt us:
“15 Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. 16 For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. 17 The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.” (1 Jn. 2:15-17 NIV)
Lust of the flesh: natural physical appetites like hunger, sex, exhaustion, and what-ever physical needs we have. Satan can concoct baits that pray on these desires and lead us to sin. Our desires for sex he tempts with fornication, adultery and illicit fantasy. Our desire for sustenance, he tempts with gluttony, drunkenness for short term comfort, and addictive & harmful substances to escape the difficulties we’re dealing with.
Lust of the eyes: Pleasing images, pictures, and sights that grab our attention and move us emotionally. Satan exploits our appreciation of physical beauty and pollutes it by tempting us with pornography. When we see others prospering (financially, socially, romantically etc.) we can become jealous. Advertising plays on our desire for satisfaction and contentment. Promising if you have x, y or z then you’ll finally be happy. Resulting in covetousness.
Pride of life: The desire and need for love, affection and respect is natural and both physically and emotionally healthy. Yet, this gets twisted by the pursuit of putting ourselves first through our boasting, selfish endeavors and a general sense of superiority (constant one upping, baiting for praise & compliments, thinking of ourselves as better than others, etc.) On the opposite side, when we, our thoughts, our actions, opinions, etc. get challenged we get angry and react defensively.
Recognize, Only God Can Satisfy these Desires: Johns answer to dealing with these sins is not having less desires. Instead it’s to redirect them. Instead of loving the world- lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes and pride of life, he tells us to cultivate a deeper more impassioned love for God. Let him and his good gifts delight you flesh, appeal to your eyes, and satisfy your need for worth and value. The satisfaction that we long for often leads us into sin, because we look for it in the wrong place, the world. But it can be found if we center our love and passions on God.
Develop Your Love for God: “The one who says, ‘I have come to know Him,’ and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him; but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected (matured).” (1 Jn. 2:4)
Receive the Gifts God blesses you With: “Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.” (James. 1:17)
Speaking of God’s good gifts, we need to take care of them. God created the desire for sexual intimacy. It’s one of the forces that bind young married couples together. But if you treat your spouse as a means to an end they will feel used and you’ll be unsatisfied- searching out other outlets. Instead, we need to cultivate love, care and responsibility in how we treat and behave toward our spouses-this goes for ladies as well. Your desires are slightly different than men’s, but even the desire for ‘affection’ can be used as a weapon. Don’t do that. Same goes for all gifts, food is a gift and needs to be handled rightly, and sanctified by thanksgiving (1 Tim. 3:4-5). Things we see are gifts from God, but we need to filter what we see through a biblical lens to fully enjoy them. Gifts such as praise, recognition, and various affirmations are gifts that God gives us to keep us from becoming disheartened, but don’t let them go too far. As a wise man once said, “Flattery is like perfume, sniff it, don’t drink it.” It may be what is needed in the moment, but don’t let it go to your head.
If I put a trap in the ground, and bait it with the most pleasing aromas, they will be useless if the coyote is full and satisfied. If he is just passing through the territory, not in the rut, and having just gorged himself on a fresh deer carcass, it doesn’t matter what lures I apply. He’ll pass right on by. Likewise, the man who is filled with the Love of God, and faithfully cultivating the good gifts he’s received, can walk right past Satan’s bait. Sure, the scent may grab their attention for a moment, but having tasted and seen that the Lord is good, they’ll just keep on moving, but if they get hungry, well, things get dangerous.