The grandest of all optical illusions occurred in the Garden of Eden. We do not know how long Adam and Eve lived in that wonderful place before the Serpent enticed them to sin. But we do know that there were living conditions set by God that, if followed, would produce a long and happy life- perhaps even an endless one (Gen. 2:15-17). The Serpent intended to destroy that and he knew his mark well. Like a crafty car salesman, he’d polished the lemon and was waiting for the first customer who knew nothing about cars so that with a graceful swoop of the hand across the cherry red hood he could reel in the unsuspecting buyer. One look and Eve was hooked. Who cares about God’s rules? It looks GOOD!
Photography is an art built on illusion. From the moment one looks through the viewfinder to the press of the shutter, decisions to include or exclude information from a picture are made. A flower can appear to be blooming in a beautiful garden as the close-up of its petals fill the page. But in reality it could very well be blooming on a heap of garbage. What fills the frame is ultimately an illusion. The Bible tells us there is a grand and dangerous optical illusion in our life and we run into it on a daily basis. It is the temptation of sin. Proverbs is so mindful of this illusion it repeats the warning two separate times (Pr. 14:12; 16:25). Sin looks harmless at first glance, even good at times, but in the end, its reality is death.
Neither you nor I have a corner market on the eye’s ability to lead us into sinful choices. Scripture is replete with examples. Perhaps the greatest example of how sin can begin with a casual glance comes from the story of David and Bathsheba (2 Sam. 11:1-12:23). The Bible makes note that David is not where he should be (2 Sam. 11:1-2) which puts him in a place where he sees something he normally wouldn’t have seen. One glance led to a longer one which lead to an inquiry and finally to full blown sin (2 Sam. 11:1-27). The result is the same as that of the first sin back in the garden. Adam and Eve experienced death just as God said they would once they ate from the tree and the child conceived through David’s illicit affair died too (2 Sam. 12:23). The fruit may have looked like a floating glass ball. Bathsheba may have looked like a floating glass ball. But it was only an illusion.
Temptation in itself is not sin, but yielding to it is (1 Cor. 10:13), especially when help is not far off (Is. 55:6; Lk. 11:4). The greatest scene of temptation in the New Testament (and perhaps all of Scripture) is the encounter between Satan and Jesus (Mt. 4:1-11; Mk. 1:12-13; Lk. 4:1-13). No matter what Satan offers, fame, power, or pleasure, Jesus steadfastly refuses them. The illusions do not work on Him. Instead His lens is fixed solely on God’s will and His Word and that Word reveals the Truth behind the illusions. What Satan has to offer is the optical illusion of a floating ball. The eyes may make it seem real but it is not. God’s Word is the most powerful lens by which to view the optical illusion of sin. We can’t escape those illusions. They will always be a part of life. But we can learn to distinguish them and avoid the consequence of our Biblical predecessors (Js. 1:14-15). The question is, are you and I willing to take a closer look at the illusion and see it for what it truly is- an illusion.
Ann H. LeFevre, M. Div.
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