I always thought it was cool when you see a snake in the wild. I’ve only seen two or three different kinds my whole life, so I think it’s the rarity that intrigues me. They are fascinating, but of course, I know to keep my distance. As cool as I think it is to see them in the wild, that’s exactly where I want them to stay. Snakes belong outside.
Not too long ago, my friend Matt and I were at church when suddenly we spotted a snake going by in the hallway. We eventually chased it down and at the risk of it crawling into an air vent and spooking church goers on Sunday morning, we cut its head off. This snake had gotten inside on its own, but what really doesn’t make any sense to me are people who purposely bring these things into their home as pets.
A friend once told me a story about someone who had a pet snake. Specifically, a python. Pythons are the type of snake that constrict their prey. The story goes that this girl let her pet snake sleep in the same bed with her every night like you might a cat or a dog (normal pets). The snake would cuddle up next to her and so it went night after night. One night the girl woke up to find the snake completely stretched out next to her from head to toe. She thought this was odd because usually the snake would be coiled up. So she took the snake to the vet thinking something was wrong. The vet informed her the snake was in fact very healthy and behaving like a normal wild animal. He also told her what the snake was doing; Essentially, the snake was sizing her up. That’s right, it was trying to determine if it had the ability to devour her.
This reminded me of a Bible story. Joshua and his men were going through the land God had promised the Israelites and with each city they came to they found victory. When they came to Jericho things became a little more difficult. Hearing about how the Israelite’s had been going through the region, Jericho had more time to prepare (Joshua 6:1). Nonetheless, by being obedient to God’s specific instructions (Joshua 6:2-5) they were able to overcome Jericho.
However, once they were in the city, not all of God’s instructions were followed. God had given them a very specific command to not take any of the “devoted things.” When one of the Israelite’s – Achan- came across these rare objects, he didn’t keep his distance. He became more than fascinated with them and he even went so far as bringing them home with him. (Joshua 7:20-21)
He kept them close to him and one day they started to size him up. Not just him, but the whole Israelite camp. Prepared to take on the next city in their path, Joshua sends out a couple spies. They come back reporting that the next city, Ai, should be fairly simple to overcome. It should have been, but it wasn’t. Surprised by the loss, Joshua inquires God. He then learns about a “snake” among the Israelites. (Joshua 7:13).
As humans with feelings, senses and free will we become fascinated with many things. God has given us specific instructions through His word about how to deal with temptation, but sometimes we don’t listen. Sometimes we end up taking the snake home with us, snuggling with it, making it sacred and something it was never meant to be. Then in our lives we see the result; a lack of victory and being made liable to destruction as it sizes us up. True, we can ‘do all things through Christ Jesus who gives me strength,’ (Philippians 4:13) but so often we don’t do everything through Christ Jesus. Instead, we try to do things our own way.
The Bible says that our enemy ‘prowls like a lion seeking whom he can devour.” (1 Peter 5:8) Eventually, the sin you welcome into your home and into your life, is going to start sizing you up until it devours you. Maybe you’ve brought home a snake from the wild and you’ve been hiding it, keeping it secret. Israel couldn’t move forward and neither will you.
It’s time to cut off the snake’s head.
Achan didn’t yet have the blood of Jesus covering his sins but we do. 1 John tells us “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
Don’t bring the snake home. Do all things through Christ who gives you strength. How does He give us strength? By the same power that overcome the grave. If you want to overcome sin, it makes sense to fully trust in the only one who already has.