No, this post is not about looking at the eclipse.
Rather, someone once illustrated temptation in this way. When you are being tempted, the devil sets on your nose a pair of false glasses. These glasses make the sin look so small that you view engaging in it as trivial.
How does Satan fool us with lies so that we believe that committing sin will be inconsequential? Here are five of the common ways he distorts our spiritual vision with his lies during temptation.
He focuses our attention on the immediate pleasure rather than the pain of sin. A juicy worm floating in the water looks tasty to a fish, but when it bites and the hook is set the pain makes it thrash. In the same way, thinking of the nice things one can buy with stolen money or the fun to be had with another’s wife can make sin look so pleasurable. But the inevitable pain that will follow of spending time in jail for theft or facing the vengeance of a jealous husband is not considered.
He makes us look myopically at sin as a merely private matter. Many a person thinks that sins such as viewing pornography, bowing before a household idol, holding a secret grudge, gossiping with a close friend, masturbating, or wasting time are merely personal matters and do not concern others. Yet each of these sins and others like them are not only seen by God, offending him, but also work themselves out in the harm of others. The guy watching pornography is ignoring and belittling his wife while supporting an illicit industry that enslaves women; the idol worshiper is misleading his watching children; the grudge develops into factions; the gossip gets carried to others; the self-satisfying sexual act creates further selfishness that hurts others and leads to the objectifying of women; the lost time could have been used to serve and show love to others. Sin may be done in private but it never stays there. As Jesus said, even whispered words get shouted out on housetops.
He causes us to view the consequences of sin as distant or even non-existent. When tempting Eve, Satan responded to her reminder of God’s warning about eating from the tree with the contradiction, “You surely shall not die!” Like looking through the wrong end of a telescope, the evil one makes you believe that sin and its consequences are distant and will not harm you. Yet, even if delayed for a time, consequences will come. People mock the sure reality of Judgment Day, not realizing they are simply echoing the devil’s wishful hope. Sin always leads to death one way or another (Rom. 6:16).
He distorts grace so that it appears as licentiousness. Jude warned the church about those who creep in and “pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ” (v. 4). Satan uses false teachers like corrupting spectacles. They make professing Christians think such things as “not under law but under grace” means we can be lawless as believers or “being blessed” refers to material prosperity. Blurring what the Bible clearly distinguishes between right and wrong, they lead Christians away from obedience to God’s moral law and into a live of sensuality and self-indulgence. The cross becomes a therapeutic couch where one is told how much one is loved unconditionally rather than an altar where Christ’s death and resurrection brings a transformed lifestyle of self-denial with service to God and others.
He shrinks the majesty and holiness of God. Satan loves to obscure the infinite, eternal, and holy God in our minds. For when God is small in our thinking, it makes sin appear small as well. Think of it this way. If someone “vandalizes” a comic strip in a newspaper by drawing a mustache on Charlie Brown, we give it nary a thought. But if someone were to sneak in and put a mustache on the Mona Lisa in the Louvre, the whole world would cry out in disgust. Why? The greatness of the artist and the sacredness of his painting bring glory to him that demands respect and honor. Satan deceives most people into seeing sin as the mustache on Charlie Brown rather than on the Mona Lisa. The glorious God, who created by his handiwork the heavens and the earth, and especially sculpted men and women in his image, is dishonored when his own artwork disobeys him and does not even recognize the sin for what it is. The weight of him putting his own Son on the cross for sin is ignored at these times.
Now, let me conclude with this thought. Someone has also said the devil has another pair of glasses he places on us after we sin. These glasses make sin appear so large that it cannot be forgiven. If you are reading this today, have fallen into sin, and are despairing in this way, consider one last illustration. Though this post is not about the eclipse, let’s use it illustratively.
Though the sun is 400 times larger in diameter than the moon, today many will see it totally eclipsed for a time. How can that be? Because the moon, as its orbit passes between the earth and sun today, is also 400 times closer to the earth than the sun. So today the moon will look as great or greater than the sun as it blocks its light, even though we know that’s not the case.
Likewise, sin, when it gets close to us, can eclipse in our soul the glory of God’s grace found in the person and work of Jesus Christ. That’s why when we fall to temptation, we must look with faith beyond the shadow that’s been cast upon our souls and ask God to shine his grace in Christ on us once again.
For as John said, “My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (I John 2:1).