Have you ever heard how to boil a frog? Apparently you can’t put it directly into the boiling water, because it will sense the danger and hop out of the pot. You need to put it into cold water and gradually heat both the water and the frog until they boil. We don’t usually compare ourselves to frogs, but if we did, we could say that the pot we are in is close to boiling and we may not even realize it.
“Nor give place to the devil.” (Ephesians 4:27)
“If God doesn’t soon bring judgment upon America, He’ll have to go back and apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah!” This quote, frequently attributed to Billy Graham, was actually spoken by his wife Ruth back in 1965. Yet since that time, in many ways, our “pot” has gotten hotter.
Those of us who have been around for any period of time can attest to this. Having been born in 1962, I was a child in the 60’s. This was a period of upheaval and rebellion against the standards of society—a time of communes, immorality, and drugs. Yet because, as a child, I was oblivious to much of what was going on, or perhaps because our community wasn’t on the cutting edge of popular culture, this didn’t seem to impact us much. Most people in our quiet, predominantly Polish Roman Catholic neighborhood still went to confession and mass, did their first communions, and were reasonably decent. Yet the pot was slowly being heated—things were going on during this time whose impact would only be felt decades later.
In 1962, in Engels v. Vitale, the court ruled that, “state officials may not compose an official state prayer and require that it be recited in the public schools of the State at the beginning of each school day…” Then in 1963, in Abington School District v. Schempp, another ruling declared school-sponsored Bible reading in public schools in the United States to be unconstitutional. This double-whammy of hostile litigation guaranteed that the majority of future generations would neither know, nor be encouraged to pray to, God. And this removal of the plumb line of God’s Word and prayer to guide our society effectively opened the door for the pot to get hotter yet.
In 1973, in the landmark decision case Roe v. Wade, the court essentially allowed abortions. In 2003 in Lawrence v. Texas, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that sodomy laws violate the right to privacy. Today, the homosexual agenda is seeking to redefine the Biblical definition of marriage.
Genesis 6:11-12 tells us what the earth looked like in the days of Noah, right before The Flood:
The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence.So God looked upon the earth, and indeed it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth.”
Everything was wrong; everybody was corrupted—messed up and full of sin, not at all as God originally created mankind to be. Yet there was a contrast:
“Noah was a just man, perfect in his generations. Noah walked with God.”
In the middle of a terrible world—and we cannot but conclude it was awful, because God, whom the Bible identifies countless times as merciful, subsequently destroyed it—Noah stayed with what was right; he walked with God.
Today’s verse warns us to not “give place to the devil.” What does this mean? To give place to the devil means to give him ground, to give him a foothold. Just as in battle you have to stand your ground and not let the enemy gain the upper hand, in our battle against Satan we are not to give him a chance. 1 Peter 5:8 tells us to, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.”
And how are we to not give Satan the upper hand? Jesus gave the answer in Matthew 5:30:
“ And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell.”
The way we keep Satan from gaining a position of advantage over us is by eliminating anything from our lives that would give him an edge. If you are a recovering alcoholic, you should not become a bartender. If you struggle with pornography, you should have controls on your computer. If you feel tempted on business trips, perhaps your spouse should accompany you. It really is better for us to enter heaven not having had access to whatever it is we have cut out of our lives here on earth rather than miss out altogether on an eternity with Him because we couldn’t say, “no.”
Yet Satan has always sought to deceive God’s people and trip them up. In a corrupt society such as Noah’s—and increasingly perhaps now ours—the key to surviving is recognizing how far our culture falls short of God’s holiness. If we are the proverbial frog in the pot of our present-day culture, we need a thermometer to alert us to what we otherwise would not notice—that the pot is starting to boil. That thermometer is the perennial and unchanging standard of God’s Word.
We need to get out of the pot and stay out, and we can only do this if we recognize the danger and see how close to boiling it is. God tells us:
“Come out from among them
And be separate, says the Lord.
Do not touch what is unclean,
And I will receive you.” (2 Corinthians 6:17)
So how can we do this? This does not usually mean we have to physically move, but it does mean we have to stay holy in a very unholy culture. Yet we are not naturally holy; left to our own devices we would be as bad as anyone else. It is God’s Word that the Holy Spirit uses to convert and sanctify us—to change us into the people God wants us to be. So the way to walk with God is to make a priority of staying in His Word—studying it so we can know it and apply it to the situations around us we daily face. Furthermore, we also really do have to “come out from among them.” We may or may not choose to be dramatic about it, but the truth is that because our culture is so rotten, immersing ourselves in it through music and entertainment will numb us to its sinfulness and make us almost feel that what is going on is okay. So there must be programs and music, books and plays, that we will voluntarily choose to forgo.
Ultimately, it all boils down to what we value the most in life. If we value entertainment, fun, or pleasure more than anything else, we won’t care that it is desensitizing us to the evil around us which God abhors and Christ died on the cross to literally save us from. If, on the other hand, we come to a point in our lives where we realize just how precious the promise of an eternity with God is—that it is, indeed, that “pearl of great value,” it won’t be so hard to do what we have to, to get it.
Help us not give the devil an opportunity to try to trip us up. Help us recognize that our cultural pot is very hot and stay safe in Christ and Your Word. Amen.