What is Your Exit Strategy? Are you Free from Satan’s Lock-Down?
By Col. Tim Moore
As the coronavirus pandemic drags on, there is a growing sense of impatience to “open up” the country. People have quickly grown tired of “hunkering down” and sheltering in their own homes. Researchers describe record sales of gardening supplies as people look for ways to at least be outside and go about some normal and optimistic activities.
With some government officials pushing back against the public urge to return to work and get back to normal, protests are springing up in state capitals all around the nation. One of the pressing questions posed to national, state, and local officials has been: What is your exit strategy?
Even economies as robust as the United States’ cannot be stopped on a dime. And, once they have been mothballed for a season, they cannot be started back up instantaneously. Like great oceangoing ships that must be turned very slowly, national economies have both momentum when running and inertia when idled.
I’m reminded of what an old friend who used to be a railroad engineer told me. He said that when a mighty locomotive was unneeded for the better part of a full day, the railroad company would simply let it idle in the yard. That was because it was much more difficult to get it started again if they shut it down. It took a flatcar full of batteries and much effort, with no guarantee that the engine would start again when needed.
The pressing question is, “How we will extricate ourselves from the mess we’re in?”
As humans, we get used to a routine very quickly. Even when dramatic change occurs, we accommodate ourselves to the new normal much more quickly than you might think. That is why self-improvement coaches advocate sticking with new habits for 21 days; after that relatively short period of time the new habit begins to be ingrained.
Satan understands this aspect of human nature. That is why he is eager to fill our lives with worthless distractions that become our normal routine. Those normal routines can become a rut, leading to a degree of complacency that keeps a person from considering eternal truths. Even habits and pastimes that have some merit in themselves can become idolatrous fixations that keep us from heavenly things.
Two technological examples of this are Facebook and Instagram. These can be great tools for connecting people, but their creators purposefully designed them to be addictive. Many of us have found ourselves scrolling through inane posts and pictures, only to wonder why we’ve wasted so much time.
When disruptions do come — whether because the world is fallen or as a corrective judgment of God — Satan tries to steer people away from the truth. He’ll whisper, “No God who loves the world would allow this to occur,” or “If God exists and is all-powerful, He wouldn’t allow this to happen.” Satan has been perpetrating deceptions like that on the world since he asked, “Did God really say…” in the Garden of Eden. That is why Jesus said that Satan “is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44).
Satan also relishes upsetting people’s routine when they begin to accept the truth of Jesus Christ. As if to undermine their budding faith, Satan loves to heap troubles on the heads of those whose faith is weak. His hope is that they’ll follow the advice of Job’s wife and curse God (Job 2:9).
Finally, throughout our lives as believers Satan loves to hurl fiery darts at us. Once again, he tries to distract us, hoping that we’ll take our eyes off Jesus. Suffice it to say that we need to “lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us and (run) with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith” (Hebrews 12:1-2).
An Eternally Important Question
If you are wondering why you seem to be tossed about by life’s storms, I’d encourage you to step back and consider this eternally important question: Are you free from Satan’s spiritual lockdown?
You see, most people go about their lives convinced that they are the master of their own destiny. Taking a cue from William Ernest Henley’s poem, Invictus, they declare: “I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul.” Perhaps, like Henley, they give lip service to “whatever gods may be” even as they celebrate their own “unconquerable soul.”
Invictus means “unconquerable” or “undefeated” in Latin. The poem’s hubris reflects the Bible’s description of mankind (Psalm 2:1-3). I realize that some will protest that the poem speaks of the dignity of man. They’ll say it captures a determination to rise above circumstances (such as Henley’s bout with tuberculosis and the amputation of his lower leg). But the attitude to go it alone without any need for or recognition of God is one of man’s greatest sins. That is why New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s assertion that God should get no credit for saving lives in the coronavirus pandemic is so offensive.
The Bible records the experience of another pride-filled man who came into conflict with God Almighty. Told that the LORD God wanted him to let His people go, Pharaoh responded, “Who is the LORD that I should obey His voice to let Israel go? I do not know the LORD” (Exodus 5:1-2). His heart did not yield until God had poured out a series of corrective judgments. Yul Brynner captured the realization that came too late to Pharaoh in Cecil B. DeMille’s epic movie “The Ten Commandments” when he said, “His God, is God.”
His God, is God
Even today, most people respond to the corrective hand of God by figuratively shaking their fist at heaven and cursing His Name. They certainly do not repent (turn from their wicked ways) and accept Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord. Revelation describes the outpouring of God’s wrath that will occur during the Tribulation. The proper response to those waves of successive judgment will be to beg forgiveness and glorify God. Some will do just that; their names will be recorded in God’s book of life. Yet we know that most people will not repent (Revelation 9:20-21).
Unwitting Slaves to Sin
Slavery is something that the modern mind recoils at. We imagine ourselves delivered from this stain on human history. But the writer of Proverbs observed, “The evil deeds of the wicked ensnare them; the cords of their sins hold them fast” (Proverbs 5:22).
Jesus said that all who commit sin are slaves to sin (John 8:34). The infection of sin is more contagious and deadly than any mere virus. That is because we are all born with it, enslaved to its claim on our hearts, and condemned to eternal damnation because of its infection in our lives (Romans 3:23). We cannot even recognize the severity of our condition because our own hearts deceive us (Jeremiah 17:9). And, we certainly cannot free ourselves from this terminal disease (Romans 7:14-24).
But, there is a cure! Proclaiming both the Source and the means of salvation, Paul wrote, “Thanks be to God through Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:25).
Silver Lining to this Cloud
If the recent coronavirus pandemic upset your normal routine and made you question the direction you are heading, thanks be to God! If other circumstances of life are weighing you down and leading you to despair that your life has any meaning, realize that God wants to get your attention. He will move heaven and earth to break through your routine and call you to Himself.
Almighty God loved you so much that He interrupted the normal flow of human history. He sent His own Son into the world to show the way to enter into a relationship with God. Jesus said, “whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
Don’t wait until the world reels under a horrific series of judgments in the Tribulation (Revelation 5-6, 8-9, 16). Put your faith in Jesus — the One who will rescue us from the wrath to come (1 Thessalonians 1:10).
Several secular sages are credited with saying, “nobody gets out of this world alive.” Others lament that only two things are guaranteed in this life: death and taxes.
Neither saying is entirely true. The Bible says that Christians who are alive when Jesus comes for His Church will be translated into their glorified bodies in the twinkling of an eye and will meet Him in the air. So, they actually will avoid death and get out of this world alive!
For everyone else, death represents the final frontier — the ultimate disruption of our mortal routine. Hoping for the best or assuming that your good deeds will outweigh your sin will lead to destruction. So, what is your exit strategy?
Jesus recognized that in this world we will have trouble. But He has overcome the world (John 16:33). He also overcame death and has promised life everlasting to those who put their faith in Him. He is “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6).
Don’t wait another day. If you’re still trapped in Satan’s lockdown of sin, turn to Jesus Christ and know real freedom. Experience the glorious truth of His promise: “If the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:31-36).