Don’t Give the Devil An Opportunity

Blog 3.14.21

Don’t Give the Devil an Opportunity

In the continuing saga of my lawn and the dreaded infestation of crabgrass, I got a call from Dan Hart. Dan knew of my situation last year while it was happening; he commiserated how difficult it was for him to eradicate that terrible weed. His neighbors had declared his lawn hopeless, but he found the secret. The secret was why he was calling me; he wanted to make sure I was going through the appropriate steps and that I, too, could be successful in eliminating the noxious weed from my yard. Dan told me the trick was to make sure that I was applying pre-emergent before the weed ever takes root and that I should do it as soon as possible. Because crabgrass is so invasive, it has to be treated when it is a tiny little seed and in a more vulnerable stage. Then as l digested this information, during our church spring cleaning workday, I saw Rod Webring spreading a pre-emergent throughout the planter beds. He agreed that this was the best way to stop weeds from ever popping up. So, when you hear the same advice from two elders, it is a solid practice to implement.

In his letter to the church in Ephesus, Paul gives his readers a description of living for Jesus. He describes it as a new way of living and that it will require some changes for each person to make.

Ephesians 4:20-27
“But you have not so learned Christ, 21 if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: 22 that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, 23 and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, 24 and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness. 25 Therefore, putting away lying, “Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor,” for we are members of one another. 26 “Be angry, and do not sin”: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, 27 nor give place to the devil.”

In this list of changes, Paul closes with the appeal to not give the devil an opportunity. Quite literally, he says not to give the devil a place. Don’t allow an opportunity for the devil in our lives may seem like a straightforward instruction; however, it is one that we execute poorly. We make these minor concessions to certain vices or attitudes of the world, imagining there will be no harm in allowing these little contrivances. Yet they wreak havoc on our spiritual well-being. It reminds me of one of Jesus’ teachings concerning unclean spirits.

Matthew 12:43-45
“When an impure spirit comes out of a person, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. 44 Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ When it arrives, it finds the house unoccupied, swept clean and put in order. 45 Then it goes and takes with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that person is worse than the first. That is how it will be with this wicked generation.”

We often correctly dispose of the wickedness in our lives; however, we don’t fill it up with something beneficial. In Jesus’ discourse, he states that the unclean spirit leaves and then eventually returns sevenfold stronger to a place that has been left unoccupied. Being overpowered by the evil in our lives is a sad state for anyone to fall into; yet, it can happen to each one of us. We make a place for the devil to come in a make a home. We don’t do this intentionally; however, it happens out of negligence or complacency.

Filling our lives with good things is similar to a lawn; the first step is tackling the weeds before they take root. Once that is accomplished, the best thing a homeowner can do is maintain a healthy lawn. A thick and dense lawn will naturally keep out most nuisance weeds. This is an excellent reminder to strengthen our lives founded in Christ continually. Unfortunately, it is easy to let parts of our lives grow undeveloped or even uncultivated. If we don’t maintain a Christ-centered life, spiritual weeds can start spreading, and then it becomes difficult to rid our lives of these areas that have been prepared for weakness and vices. Therefore, don’t prepare a place for the devil in our lives; address evil before it ever takes root.

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