“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.”
— 1 Peter 5:8
Have you ever done something sinful, something that seemed so exciting and promising at first, only to feel empty after actually doing it? When we pursue sin, we’ll always feel that way—left high and dry.
This empty sensation reminds me of a story told by the preacher Clovis Chappel. Once there was a Christmas party in an orphanage. Beneath the tree were all sorts of beautifully wrapped packages. With all the children gathered around him, Santa Claus passed out the gifts. As he did so, everyone excitedly opened his or her present, enthusiastically examining each new toy. Everyone, that is, except for one young man, who was often picked on by the others. With no package to open, he sat, crestfallen, in the corner. Upon realizing his bad fortune, everyone became quiet, and all the children stared at him. Just at that moment, the man pretending to be a benevolent Santa Claus reached behind the tree, pulled out the biggest box of them all, and handed it to the unfortunate boy. The young man’s face lit up! Excitedly, he tore away the ribbons and wrapping paper and pulled off the lid only to find an empty box. As he stared despondently into it, all the children laughed. How cruel.
But there is a sense in which we are like that unfortunate boy, when we willfully try to grab Satan’s empty boxes. Life is filled with empty boxes, and we each take our turn at playing the fool. “Give me the goods,” we say, and Satan hands us a beautifully wrapped but empty box. What are these empty boxes? Sin. Satan says, “Oh, just one little lie” or “one little look” or “Everybody’s doing it.” But when we give in, we realize he has taken us again, promising the world but delivering nothing.
The devil is the great illusionist, the great liar. He promises all manner of delights. He promises excitement, but in the end he clothes his victims in filthy rags, hunger, and misery. If these people decide to turn around and return to their Father’s house, Satan sends all the bloodhounds of hell after them to overwhelm them with temptations and pull them down into the miry clay. How foolish is the man or woman who believes the promises of the father of lies. Every good gift comes down from above, not up from the pit with its hook that pulls you into the lake of fire.
Have you opened any empty boxes lately? If so, ask God to forgive you and show you how to pursue His righteousness. As you seek God, He’ll help you discover the excitement and abundance of living obediently in Him.