Earlier this week, Russell Moore at his Moore to the Point blog, posted his take on Congressman Anthony Weiner (U.S Rep., D-NY). Read his complete post at Are You Smarter Than Anthony Weiner?
Satan’s Scheme: Shield Us from the Future
Unless you’ve been asleep for the past ten days, you’re aware of the fact that Congressman Weiner, after denying it, has now confessed that he sent inappropriate pictures of himself to several women. And he did it via a publicly accessible social media tool.
Russell Moore encourages us to realize that:
“The most dangerous thing we can do is to assume that these famous people are somehow crazy. They don’t lack intelligence or skill or foresight. They would have never attained the positions they have if they did. Something else is going on here.”
Moore then brilliantly analyzes the root issue.
“As Christians, we believe that temptation isn’t merely biological. There’s something wild and wicked afoot in the universe. These beings have an ancient strategy, and part of that is to shield us from the future. Desire gives way to sin, James tells us, and ‘sin when it is fully grown brings forth death’ (James 1:15). Temptation only works if the possible futures open to you are concealed. Consequences, including those of Judgment Day, must be hidden from view or outright denied. That’s why in humanity’s ancestral sin the serpent told our mother Eve, ‘You will not surely die’ (Gen. 3:4).”
Remember the Future
What Moore addresses from James and Genesis, we find addressed everywhere in the Bible. God wants us to remember the future. Consider two very different time perspectives narrated in Hebrews 11.
Moses remembered the future.
“By faith Mosses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time. He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasure of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward” (Hebrews 11:24-26, emphasis added).
Moses delayed his gratification. Moses refused to submit to the pleasures of sin for a season. Moses took the long view. He looked ahead to his reward—both his earthly reward and, most importantly, his eternal reward. Moses remembered the future.
On the other hand, Esau forgot the future.
“See to it that no one is sexually immoral, or is godless like Esau, who for a single meal sold his inheritance rights as the oldest son” (Hebrews 12:16, emphasis added).
Esau chose immediate gratification. He craved the “Turkish Delight” from the White Witch of Narnia. He lived for now! He focused on today. Esau forgot the future.
As Moore goes on to say, with powerful insight:
“The tempting powers come after all of us in much the same way. Whatever our particular point of vulnerability is, they seek to distort the way we see our future…. That’s the way temptation functions. We put consequences out of our minds, both temporal and eternal consequences. We start to believe that we are gods, with power over good and evil and life and death. And then we do crazy things.”
Stop to Think
Speaking of the foolishness of idolatry, Isaiah chastises God’s people because “no one stops to think” (Isaiah 44:19). Every sin is like that. We refuse to stop to think—about the temporal and eternal ramifications of our thoughts and actions.
We live to feed our sense of “need” on our own. We refuse to believe God. We refuse to wait on God. We refuse to depend upon God. We turn to cisterns, broken cisterns that hold no water, rather than turning to God our Spring of Living Water. In our folly, we believe that the immediate gratification of the flesh is wiser and better than God’s eternal way.
We need to “fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:18). This long-term, eternal perspective is what empowered Paul to say, “I consider that our present sufferings are not worthy comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18).
Paul remembered the future. He did some spiritual mathematics as he looked at life with eternal eyes. He calculated his present in light of his eternal future. Whether faced with suffering and the temptation to give up, or faced with sin and the temptation to give in; we must remember the future.
Join the Conversation
How would remembering the future impact how you respond to Satan’s temptation to give up during suffering or to give in to sin?