I’m sharing a series of “letters” originally written by Vince Miller. I regard Vince as a trusted resource for wisdom and insight on faith and family especially as it pertains to men and fathers. His bio is at the bottom of the post. Look him up. What follows is his work entirely. Vince communicates the messages I want my son to hear in a far more clear and concise way than I could ever say. Consider using these as conversation starters. I encourage you to share these letters with the important men in your life.
Knowledge of God’s Word is a bulwark against deception, temptation, accusation, even persecution.Ed Cole
Son, at some point, you are going to become aware of the deceptiveness of sin. You will be lured in by it. It will hook you, and you will be held captive in its clutches.
Think about the process of deception like a fisherman thinks about the sport of fishing. His aim—to deceive a fish by baiting and hooking it, to eventually filet, cook, and feast on it. Regardless of how poorly I do this, the same principle applies to the enticement, baiting, and hooking that men encounter daily when it comes to sin. The taste of the bait is different based on the sin, but the bait is presented the same way in every instance. If you learn how we are enticed by sin, you will be better prepared to resist the temptation, and even make better decisions to avoid temptation when sin seeks to lure and reel you in. The following three baits should empower you to make better advanced decisions. All three are observed in the first temptation in the Bible. And remember this is an interaction the serpent has with the woman who is baiting her to act in disobedience to God.
Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.'” But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. 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 3:1-5
BAIT ONE | God Doesn’t Let You Do Anything
Did God actually say, “You shall not eat of any tree in the garden?”Genesis 3:2
So what’s happening here? It’s cunning if you read it carefully.
The serpent is inviting the woman to question the one moral rule of God. And man was given this rule long before the woman was created. And it was a single moral command. Not two. Not even ten—that was later. Just one. Here is how God communicated the original command:
And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”—Genesis 2:16-17
If you read it carefully a few times, you will notice some differences between God’s original declaration and the serpent’s statement. While God said “every tree” was permissible except one, the serpent presented an interesting spin; that they were not allowed to eat from “any tree.” Thus, we see the first bait is presented, which leads to an enticing exchange of questioning God’s truth.
Now note; when it comes to life, we should ask great questions. Dialogue is necessary. But when these dialogues lead us down the stream of questioning truth, we need to examine the process and even consider the potential consequence. Please always go back to the truth, in God’s Word, and do what God instructs, staying close to God’s original intent and meaning. Since we are innately sinful, selfish desires will kick in, and they will entice us with questions that attempt to blur the lines between obedience and disobedience. This is a dangerous and sometimes fatal first step that leads to many others. Be careful to search for the truth, not your version of the truth, that causes you to question the truth of God.
Now had this been the only bait set, perhaps the woman would not have sinned. But there is another powerbait presented.
BAIT TWO | God Is Lying To You
“You will not surely die.Genesis 3:4
You have to remember that our enemy knows the truth, and he knows it well. And because he knows the truth so well, even better than some Christians, he presents the truth and leaves most of it intact to only hook you with falsehood. Note the statement of the serpent. He proclaims a partial truth and therefore suggests that God is lying and concealing something from her. He could have said it this way.
“You will not surely die, today but die you will. And by the way, the bonus is spiritual death and separation from God.”
But in your life, the voice of the serpent sounds a lot like you! It’s after all the voice of your private desires.
The seductive voice of self-rationalization is powerful bait because you know what you want more than anyone else. And sometimes you’ll want something so badly you will convince yourself that a small diversion is okay. This will come in self-talk that sounds like this:
- “I’ll do it just once.”
- “No one will ever know.”
- “I won’t get caught.”
- “It’s not that wrong.”
- “You will not surely die.”
The sound of this voice should bring a pause in your life. Justification and self-rationalization should signal that the hook is about to be set. At all costs, stop the process immediately. Get counsel from Christian men and instruction from God’s Word. Do not continue! For once the third bait is presented, it’s hard to turn and swim away.
BAIT THREE | God’s A Deceiver
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
Now, this is insidious. The serpent wants the woman to believe that God is a selfish concealer, which is downright deceit. But he has brought the woman a long way down the road of temptation. First, he gets her to question the truth; then, he spins the truth, now he feeds her the ultimate untruth—God knows and deceiving you. And concurrently, there is also the chance to become something greater—you can be “like God.”
Son, this is the penultimate bait. We want to be like God. We desire power, knowledge, and control. This man and woman did have their eyes opened, but with it, it did not produce the intended result—instead, it resulted in separation from God.
Now, you may think you have no desire to be like God, but all men do. Just get a small taste of power, and you’ll want more like every man. It’s simply unquenchable. And it’s this drive for power, knowledge, and control that takes men downstream into hideous sin.
So, son, you will sin. You’ve probably already done so today. But remember these baits, they are unchanging. And when you are baited by temptation and sin, get back up again, lean on God’s grace, and keep moving as a man of God, till the Day sin is no more.
I love you sin and all, but live in the truth and grace of God—Dad.
Vince Miller is an author and speaker to men around the world on topics that include manhood, masculinity, fatherhood, mentorship, and leadership. He has authored 18 different books for men and is hosted on major video platforms like RightNow Media and Faithlife TV. He hosts a weekly podcast, writes weekly articles, and provides daily thoughts from God’s Word all just for men. He is a 27-year ministry veteran and the founder of Resolute a Men’s Ministry Platform that provides bible studies aimed at building better men found at www.beresolute.org. See his latest book and small group study Called to Act: 5 Uncomplicated Disciplines for Men.