The Lion and the Snake

Lou Lotz

READ : Revelation 2:12-14

You have some there who hold the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel, so that they might eat food sacrificed to idols. (v. 14)

Should Christians eat meat that has first been sacrificed to idols? It may sound today like a strange and inconsequential matter, but in ancient Pergamum this was a huge issue. Could Christians purchase and eat meat that had been sacrificed on a pagan altar, blessed by a pagan priest, and dedicated to a pagan god? Some said yes. The Lord says no.

One of the ways you soften persecution is to adapt to your culture. Compromise a little. In Pergamum, God’s people were compromising—eating food that had been first sacrificed to pagan idols. This was the sin of Balaam, an Old Testament oracle who caused God’s people to stumble by enticing them to compromise with the world.

In the Bible, Satan is compared to a lion: “Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion” (1 Pet. 5:8). But Satan is also a snake, crafty and beguiling. The tempter asked Eve, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” (Gen. 3:1).

Believers in Pergamum would not deny Christ even at the point of a sword, but those same believers participated in the pagan practices of their culture. Sin sometimes leaps upon us like a lion, but more often it creeps upon us like a snake. Christians have lost more ground to seduction than we ever lost to persecution.

PRAYER

Lord, deliver me from temptation. Amen.