All too predictably, the monstrous ants soon swarm and wind up in the concrete spillways and sewers of the Los Angeles River, where their nests must be found and eradicated before their offspring can wreak havoc on the city and its inhabitants.
While not nearly as fierce an opponent as these marauding eight foot long ants were, their smaller cousins have nonetheless kept my wife and I have been under siege for the past couple of weeks. In particular, we have been plagued with ants in our shower – to the tune of about ten or twelve a day.
Weary of picking them off one at a time, we called in an exterminator. He quickly analyzed our problem. The particular form of ant we have been keep encountering is an odorous house ant, which is attracted to sweeteners of all sorts. To make his point, he pinched a hapless ant and it gave off a slight sweet smell in the process. He then told us that the ants in our shower were very likely attracted to the fragrance in the shampoo.
Suffice it to say that the delicious smelling shampoo that has lured so many ants to our shower over the past few weeks has now come home to roost. Literally. The ants are gone now because the last few to return to their nest bearing a sweet tasting substance from our shower retuned not with shampoo, but with a little sweet smelling substance left by the exterminator. Only this substance contained something deadly as well as sweet.
Alas, if the poor ants in question had simply foraged in the abundance of our yard and nearby woods, their entire colony would likely still be alive. Sadly, they chose to venture out of bounds for an easy meal and paid the price.
As I have reflected on this little incident, I have been reminded of the story contained in the Bible in chapter 3 of the Old Testament Book of Genesis. Adam and Eve were given a wondrous garden in which to live – one that abounded with all types of fruits and vegetables. And they were allowed to eat of all its bounty save one plant: the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
Alas, however, the tempter came along and reminded them of the wondrous fruit this tree had to offer, and of how good it would be to the taste. As a result, they soon disregarded God’s rules and partook of this forbidden fruit.
No doubt it was good to the taste. But the aftertaste, left not in their mouths so much as in their hearts and minds, was not nearly so palatable. For having violated God’s law and, they then fell under the sentence of death as a consequence.
Ever since that day, the tempter has continued to excel at the business of luring people away from God. He delights in presenting us with luscious and seductive fruit, all the while concealing his true motive, which is our physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, and ultimately eternal demise.
By His grace, God gave His One and Only Son, Jesus Christ, to redeem us from this sentence of spiritual death. Christ literally died in our place. As the Apostle Paul puts it (in the New Testament Book of Romans, chapter 5, verse 8): “God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.”
He then explains (in chapter 6, verse 23) that even though the wages of sin is death, the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord! Thus, (according to chapter 10, verses 9 and 10) he tells us:
9“If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.”
I am thrilled to know that even though I was led astray by the tempter and violated God’s righteous laws in the process, I have nonetheless been gloriously saved through the vicarious death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ on my behalf.
Nonetheless, like all believers, I still face temptation. We Christians may be saved for eternity, but we must still live in this fallen world, where the tempter, at least for now, runs amok. This means that temptation must still be faced – and that on a daily basis.
But I praise the Lord that even in this ongoing struggle against temptation and sin, I am not without help. In the later New Testament Letter to the Corinthians (chapter 10, verse 13), the Apostle Paul further states:
13“The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.”
To be sure, temptation is a powerful thing. In fact, it is arguably the single greatest weapon in the arsenal of the evil one to be used against us. And yet, it does not always have to lead to defeat and disgrace in our lives as believers. With God's help, we can soon learn to anticipate and avoid the wiles of the Devil!
It was William Shakespeare who once famously said: “All that glitters is not gold.” In much the same way, not everything that appeals to our sense of sight or smell proves to be in our best interest once it is consumed and ingested.
So, remember my friends, beware the luscious and fragrant traps of the evil one! Or else, you might just swallow something that leaves you with a terrible aftertaste!
NOTE: Before finding lasting fame portraying U.S. Marshall Matt Dillon in 635 episodes from 1955-1975 on the television show, Gunsmoke, James Arness also starred in another science fiction classic in 1951: Howard Hawks’ The Thing from Another World. He plays an alien who crash lands near the Arctic Circle and attacks the U.S. Air Force personnel sent to investigate.