**Author note – the inspiration for this writing came from a brief sermon given yesterday by Pastor Louie Giglio. I am giving credit where credit is due. There is too much plagiarism going on in modern Christianity and we should have none of it. Key Verse: The woman was convinced. She saw that the tree was beautiful and its fruit looked delicious, and she wanted the wisdom it would give her. So she took some of the fruit and ate it. Then she gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it, too. – Genesis 3: 6 (NLT) I think sometimes we tend to downplay things that should take on a more serious meaning in our walk with God. The world has done a masterful job at the direction of the enemy to turn Satan into a caricature. Just a harmless little fellow in a red suit with a pitchfork and if you aren’t careful he might just poke you with it! The truth is that we in the modern church have become increasingly ignorant spiritually. Lip service is paid to the enemy within the modern seeker friendly movements because the sermons about the devil don’t lead to higher offerings and more bodies in the pews. Give me more of that bless me speak! Tell me how much God loves me and wants to give me my heart’s desires! The bottom line however is that just because we fail to acknowledge the enemy doesn’t make him any less aggressive or effective against the children of God. I saw a sermon yesterday by Pastor Louie Giglio, where he used this analogy that I thought was so fitting and might make it easier for us to understand the schemes the devil uses against us. The analogy deals with cropping pictures. As technology has improved over the years we have more and more creative control over our pictures. For example, many of our profile pictures on Facebook we may have cropped out who else was in the picture originally. What we create in other words is what we want other people to see and not what the picture really represented. That is what the devil does to us all of the time. The temptations we are presented with are merely cropped images made so we see only what the devil wants us to see and not what it really represents. This is what we see in the key verse today, taken from the story of the fall of man. God had created Adam and Eve and they enjoyed fellowship with God. The Bible says that God walked in the garden with them. Yet God had instructed them very plainly to not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil or else they would certainly die. Satan of course is the original heretic: The serpent was the shrewdest of all the wild animals the Lord God had made. One day he asked the woman, “Did God really say you must not eat the fruit from any of the trees in the garden?” – Genesis 3: 1 (NLT) This is what the devil loves to do, engage us in a conversation by mixing a little bit of truth with a little bit of lie. God of course had said to not eat from one tree, not any of the trees. Eve takes the bait and engages in a conversation with the enemy. The enemy then steps up his heresy to flat out deny God: “You won’t die!” the serpent replied to the woman. “God knows that your eyes will be opened as soon as you eat it, and you will be like God, knowing both good and evil.” – Genesis 3: 4-5 (NLT) So we come to the key verse where we find Eve convinced. She coveted the tree for its beauty, seemingly delicious fruit and the wisdom promised by the devil. So she ate and so man fell. Satan had conveniently cropped out of the image he presented to Eve the consequences for her actions. He cropped out being cast out of the garden and never being allowed back in. He cropped out the loss of fellowship with God. He cropped out the pains of childbirth for disobedience. All Eve saw was the fruit. All she saw was how beautiful it looked and how delicious it must taste. All she saw was the wisdom the devil had promised to her. She couldn’t zoom out to see the ramifications of her disobedience. When the devil showed King David the naked Bathsheba bathing one fateful day he did not show him the full picture. All David saw was his own lust and covetousness. All he saw was her beauty and his desire. I am sure the devil showed David a picture of his power as king and his right to claim whatever he wanted. If David could have zoomed out he may have been able to see the conception of a child, the murder of an innocent man, the death of the infant born from this sin, and the loss of his kingdom. If David had been able to see what the devil cropped out of the picture of Bathsheba, then maybe he never goes through with it. When the devil showed Judas Iscariot the betrayal of Jesus he did not show him everything. He sold it to him for 30 pieces of silver, playing up to his greedy nature but he also must have sold it to him based on his politics. To Judas, Christ should have been the one to deliver the Jews from the oppression of the Roman Empire and clearly Jesus was not going that route. The devil cropped out of the picture the lies the leading priests and elders would employ to kill Jesus. He cropped out the ignoring of good testimony and the seeking of false. Judas would soon realize he had been deceived: When Judas, who had betrayed him, realized that Jesus had been condemned to die, he was filled with remorse. So he took the thirty pieces of silver back to the leading priests and the elders. “I have sinned,” he declared, “for I have betrayed an innocent man.” “What do we care?” they retorted. “That’s your problem.” – Matthew 27: 3-4 (NLT) After we buy the false image it is indeed our problem. The way this reads it certainly appears that the devil cropped out of the picture the fact that this betrayal would actually lead to the death of Jesus! Oh beloved, what the devil doesn’t show us is so much more important than what we might readily see with our own eyes. There is a parable that says a wise builder counts the costs. It becomes so difficult to count the cost if we are looking at only half the picture. Wherever this writing finds you I pray that we all take a closer look at the things the devil uses to tempt us. That we are able to tell a cropped picture when we see one and zoom out so we can see the whole picture and thus truly count the cost. How do we know when the devil has cropped a picture he is selling us? Simple – he always is: You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. – John 8: 44 (NLT) Lying is the devil’s native language beloved. As you and I might only be able to speak English – he only knows how to speak lies. So if he is presenting us with a picture you can guarantee that he has cropped out of that picture all of the consequences. Sure that co-worker is attractive and it is only a harmless flirt but zoom out and see the destruction of your marriage and your current life as you know it. Sure that short cut at work looks like it could lead to a major payoff but zoom out and see yourself caught up in a federal investigation. It’s just one drink! I am only going to the club to dance! What’s the big deal! Surely God did not say that you would die! Zoom out beloved. Zoom out before it is too late. Rev. Anthony.