Anyone who has spent any amount of time with a fishing pole in hand knows well the tactics used to catch a fish. A juicy- plumped worm laced onto a solid hook, hiding its tough and cruel death-trap. Well known too is the ever so slight wiggle of the pole when a fish finds the bait and begins to take its jabs and nibbles. Then after a few seconds it happens: a quick tightening of the line and the fish is on the hook and in for the fight of its life. If the fish had to do it over again it would pass quickly by the bait and dart away as fast as it could.
The nibbling fish: that’s you and me. We make the same mistake as the fish with temptation and sin. The bait is so tempting. Sometimes we are totally unaware of any danger that lies beneath. Other times our head knows, but every other part of us is dispelling logic. We foolishly chose to linger: thinking we are smart enough and strong enough to play with the bait and not get hooked. Its a twisted game, rarely dawning on us that if we truly were smart enough and strong enough, we would dart away as quickly as we could to insure that there would be no failure and no fall. But we don’t.
Then the self-deceit begins. Why? Why are we so prone to listen to our own lies? “It’s not that big of a deal.” “No one will know.” “Everyone is doing this.” “It’s not going to hurt me.” Those are the lies the bait helps convince us of. There’s the bait: lush, beautiful, appealing to our tastes and passions. Looking so simple and so convincing. And yet, behind this mask that satisfies our longing lies the sharp- toothed barb that temptation had so slyly hidden; not even a hint. One foolish bite and were locked in, now at the mercy of the tempter.
Hindsight is 20/20, but at the point of the bite there is no undoing of the stupefied steps that led us to this most unfavorable failure. If only? If only we had realized that there was no glory in dabbling. If only we had seen the bait for what it was: a masterfully crafted temptation. And if only we had been smart enough to turn and fight by fleeing. If only we had found that strength was saying no, not getting comfortable in temptations presence. Temptation and invading sin should send off alarms: the believers conscience and the Spirit must awaken us from the anesthetic. And then we GET AWAY!
Now we stand informed, knowing the strength and slick deceit of the Tempter; but knowing we are empowered and set free by the only One to deal the Tempter a death blow. May each of us that know Christ’s freedom be keener to see the hook beneath the bait: No longer to linger or dabble, but for today and each day after to know his craft and never be swayed. It’s worth the fight, don’t take the bait.