One of my greatest experiences fishing goes back to when we lived in Eastern Washington. I will never forget the chilly day, the clear blue-sky fishing on one of two lakes that are stocked with Lahontian Cutthroat Trout. I can still see in the clear water view of the trout tempted by my flash lure as it was pulled in front of him. I will never forget the moment of temptation when the fish slowly moved out towards the lure, then back into his hiding spot. It was only several milliseconds later that he took the bait and hit the lure like someone that has not eaten for a week. He was hooked.
Jesus’ call on his original disciples, fishermen by trade, was to be “fishers of men.” Jesus fishing was through the message of good news to bring deliverance and restoration to those that would respond. The Bible also warns of another like a “roaring lion” that seeks to devour unsuspecting Christians. The Apostle Paul speaks of how not forgiving others is one of Satan’s lures. “so that we would not be outwitted by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his designs.” (2 Corinthians 2:11) We are reminded to not take the bait.
The Bible has provided us front row seats to the master deceiver at work with Eve. One of his greatest lures is that of tempting us to think that we are smarter than God. The Bible often refers to this as being “wise in our own eyes.” He baits us to think that we know what is good for us more than God does. The flash of the lure can be so tempting. The bait for Eve was, “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”” (Genesis 3:5) His words tempted her to leave her safe place to check out the flashing lure before she slowly pulled back. Now that the tempter has her attention will she obey God or bite. The Bible reminds us that temptation is not a sin. Sin results when we take the bait. “But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin,” (James 1:14–15b) It was her second look that brought her demise and ours. “So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate,” (Genesis 3:6)
The Bible reminds us that we also are vulnerable to the different lures of temptation. It can be the flashy spinning things of culture, the craving for pleasure or even our status in the eyes of others. (1 John 2:15-16) The temptations are different but the consequences are the same. Let me offer a few helps to avoid taking the bait. First, you need to understand your failure points. Our path to sin is well worn. It is by examining our path that we can identify the failure points. “But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire.” (James 1:14) The first step to resisting temptation is avoiding the trigger points. So how do I remove the trigger points? This is done by removing the source of temptation, or removing ourselves from the source of temptation, if possible. The sooner we do this the better. Jesus used a metaphor to describe this very thing when he teaches, “If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away.” (Matthew 5:29a) or “And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away.” (Matthew 5:30a) A third response would be to strengthen your resolve in the face of temptation. This is a benefit of spending time each day developing your relationship with the Lord. King David did it this way, “How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word. With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments! I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.” (Psalm 119:9–11)
The beautiful trout that day fought like crazy, but with the hook set, there was little chance of him getting away! We need to be preemptive by not “taking the bait!”
-Pastor Joe Parkinson