I met Bethany McIlrath at a one day conference put on by Living Proof Ministries and Beth Moore called LIT. It was a conference for women in their 20s and 30s who were passionate about writing, teaching, and/or speaking. The night before the conference, a group of us met together for dinner, and I had the privilege of sitting at a table with Bethany. I was impressed with her gentle spirit, intelligence, heart for Jesus, and sense of humor. Since then, we’ve become good friends through our LIT Facebook group, where she’s an administrator with me.
I wanted all of you to meet her, too, so today, she is guest posting for me. Her topic is sin, comparing it to bait. I thought this topic was fitting, given the recent five part series I gave comparing sin to weeds. I hope this angle on sin hits you right where it needs to.
When you’re done reading, I encourage you to head on over to her blog, First and Second Blog to see more of her work.
Trapped in a Bait and Switch?
by Bethany McIlrath
Pauls’ words in Romans 7:15 about struggling with sin nature echo in our ears: “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.”
What gets us to do what we hate? Why do we sin when we know sin stinks?
Sin stinks pretty at first. It looks shiny. And it has to. There’s a reason the serpent in the Garden of Eden tempted the first couple with an appealing apple instead of rotted Brussel sprouts.
Half of sin’s work is getting us hooked.
Much like a modern day bait and switch scheme, the Enemy’s tactic has always been to tempt us into trial by producing attractive counterfeits. The gloss of an apple appealed to the lust of the eyes, the first taste to the lust of flesh. Sin was dangled as bait on a hook made of pride, offering the allure of being like God.
Sin’s marketing plan still makes for picture perfect advertising in the Enemy’s hands today. The resulting stomach ache and insatiable addiction that come from biting into sin’s bait still catches us by surprise, too.
You know the story.
First, something looks really appealing. Then, as we seize it, we find ourselves hooked, entangled, and eventually frustrated because what we thought we were getting isn’t at all what we’ve received. The costs are always rising. Demands are ever growing. Even if we reap rewards for our sin, we collect them in wreckage.
Thank the Lord- He has given us insight so we can resist, flee from, and refuse to take the bait before the switch leaves us in a tailspin!
Watch for These Signs You’re About to Take Sin’s Bait:
1. You Can’t See Past the Shine
As the saying goes, if it looks too good to be true, it is. Whereas God said, “You may…except for…” in the garden, the Serpent said, “You may…you can…you will!” While God convicts of sin but offers grace, the Enemy proclaims, “peace, peace, where there is no peace” (Jer. 6:14).
God leads us to serve Him as freedmen; Satan pretends to serve us until we’re slaves. There’s this concept of uncanny valley- the idea that when we replicate reality digitally, we can tell it’s a counterfeit because there’s an element of “random imperfection” that we cannot create. Sin can make up shiny replicas, but what sin presents all glossy and nice will be missing the element of raw reality.
If you can’t see real flaws, real risks, real truth in it, call it bait and don’t bite.
2. Promised Results Can’t be Given By Anyone But God
Do you know the promises of God? Know them, cherish them, and if anything suggests you can have them apart from Him, walk away.
Sin’s bait often offers what only God can: peace. Security. Self-worth. A way out of trouble. A better life. But sin can’t deliver anything God has promised us. Only counterfeits. Compare the “results” promised by any temptation to the real peace, truth, hope, etc., in God’s Word. You’ll be able to see a difference.
3. There’s a Payment Plan
Sin often seems reasonable up front but leads to a hefty payment plan to maintain. Look for enticements like “just this once,” “it’s a small thing,” “no one will know,” or “it’s no big deal.” Minimizing sin is a tactic used to hook us so that we’ll be blinded to the risks and costs we’ll struggle to get out from under later.
4. What You Get Is Always Up for Grabs
As a child, I remember catching a fish with multiple little holes in its mouth. My grandfather told me that one had been caught a few times before. As silly as it seems, we fall for the same bait over and over again, too. If what you’re tempted over is always just barely eluding you, assess if it’s just a lure leading you. Psalm 55:21 describes an enemy whose “talk is smooth as butter, yet war is in his heart.” Butter is smooth, but it’s also slippery. Watch for things you can’t grasp, even if you think you have before or always think you’re almost there.
Don’t Take the Bait
I recently learned that the Secret Service was formed to address counterfeiting (ironically, the new branch was approved by Abraham Lincoln the day he was killed.) Along with this lesson, I was surprised to learn that agents don’t study counterfeits to learn how to spot them- they study the real thing.
Scripture teaches us to do the same. Before “resist the devil and he will flee from you,” we’re told to submit to God (Jas. 4:7). Verse after verse directs us to call on the Lord, seek the Lord, set our eyes on Him, fix our feet on the path He illuminates.
Sin’s bait always begins by catching our attention and grasping our intrigue. But to do it, it has to get our eyes off the real deal: the Lord. Our response when we recognize bait for what it is is simple: turn to God. Stick with what’s real. He’ll give us what we need, and we won’t be hooked or tricked in the process!
A learner at heart, Bethany McIlrath believes that listening to the Lord’s Word and being attentive to all He teaches her through daily life is a priceless blessing. Eager to share about her Savior, you can find Bethany’s writing on her blog: Firstandsecondblog.com. She would love to connect with you on Twitter or Facebook as well.