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As I write this article, two days have passed since a tragedy occurred in our community. At a spot just one-half mile from where I sit in my office, a little four-year-old boy was visiting his uncle. While the family was taking group pictures in the house, the little boy sneaked out the back door and went to a cage made of cyclone fencing where his uncle kept a 400-pound Bengal tiger. The tiger had been declawed and was reported to be very gentle, but that afternoon had been filled with thunder and lightning, which may have agitated the big cat.

At any rate, when the little boy stuck his arm through the fencing, the tiger bit it off above the elbow. Fortunately, surgeons at Hermann Hospital were able to reattach the arm in a nine-hour operation and hope that he will eventually regain much of his ability to use that limb. Certainly this was a terrible tragedy for the little boy and his family, but it is also a reminder to us of a Biblical teaching we seem to take lightly sometimes.

First Peter 5:8 cautions us, “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” Frankly, if I knew that a Bengal tiger or an African lion were roaming loose in our neighborhood, I would probably not go out for my predawn run, nor would I do as casually some of the other things I generally do without much thought.

The idea of a real spirit-being known as the devil is not popular these days. There are even many religious leaders and religious bodies who question or actually deny the existence of the devil. But the Bible assures us he is real and is just as dangerous to our spiritual lives as that Bengal tiger or Peter’s roaring lion. He can catch us off guard in a moment when everything seems to be going smoothly and well, and before we know it, he has mauled us beyond repair. It only takes an unguarded moment. He can do his damage to our spirits and then leave us to suffer the consequences for a very long time. It may be anything from a young couple becoming sexually involved to an outburst of temper to a lie told that destroys trust. Anything the devil can do to undermine your Christian character and destroy your influence for good, you can rest assured he will do it. 

One of his best tricks is to lull us into thinking that he – or the activity he is tempting us with – is harmless so that we’ll think nothing of sticking our arms into his mouth. But rest assured that his goal is still to hurt us just as much as he can in this life and to separate us from God so that we will spend eternity sharing the devil’s torment and regret in the eternal hell. As long as we keep our hands in the hand of Jesus, we have nothing to fear.

Jim Mullican
via Nettleton church of Christ
Jonesboro, AR

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