Our Heads In The Lion's Mouth
Back in 2003, news reports terrified us with stories of the white tiger who nearly killed Roy Horn of the famous duo, Siegfried and Roy. These Las Vegas entertainers have been thrilling audiences for decades with their exotic animal shows. Until recently, these animals “never put a scratch” on their handlers. But Roy Horn found himself in critical condition because a trusted animal, for whatever reason, almost took his life.
It seems to me we are fascinated with such dangerous, risky exploits. Another television star, Steve Irwin (now deceased), of Crocodile Hunter fame, was particularly exciting to watch. He ultimately died from the poisonous barb on the tail of a sting- ray, but audiences often watched just waiting for the moment when a crocodile, poisonous snake, or other deadly critter would bite or snap at Steve. He died in September, 2006.
All of this titillation and excitement may just reveal more about us than we realize.
The Bible features Satan, our adversary, as a “roaring lion, walking about
seeking whom he may devour.” (I Peter 5:8). He is dangerous and deadly, but our familiarity with him causes us to be off-guard. When you couple our over-familiarity with the Devil with his cunning ability to appear as an angel of light (2 Cor. 11:14) you have a disaster waiting to happen. How often do we put our own heads in this lion’s mouth, falsely feeling secure and impenetrable to his bite?
I fear we do it all the time. We foolishly think we are the exception to the rule that “whatsoever a man sows, that shall he also reap.” (Gal. 6:7). We play with fire, expecting not to be burned, when suddenly we are engulfed and
A businessman takes funds from the company by padding his expense account or “borrowing” with the intention of paying it back before anyone notices. Suddenly the great jaws of the lion clamp down on his head! An unmarried teenager looks until he or she finds a willing partner for sex and an unplanned pregnancy, venereal disease, or gnawing guilt results. A young married couple views pornography over the internet as a “marital aid” without realizing they are undermining trust, confidence and genuine intimacy. Before long, what seemed to be an arousing burst of excitement in their marriage destroys the very thing they foolishly thought they were building! The trusted lion, in whose arms they sought comfort, has ripped them asunder. An innocent little alcoholic beverage, consumed at an office holiday party, eventually leads to a dependency on strong drink on a daily basis. The drinker never intended it to be so, but without his realizing it the great jaws of the lion had caused the razor-sharp teeth to sink deeply into its victim’s jugular. “At the last it bites like a serpent and stings like a viper.” (Prov. 23:32)
Yes, we put our heads into the lion’s mouth, lie down with him to sleep, playfully tumble around the turf with him, and are eventually eaten and digested by him! James 1:14-15 contains a stark warning concerning the dangers of sin and temptation. “But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death. Sin is deadly, no matter how it appears at first. It is a killer! It kills your desire for spiritual things; it kills your self-respect; it will kill your soul eternally. Sin is not a cuddly, cute little kitten, it is a vicious, man-eating lion. It can never be trusted, no matter how much experience we have with it. I wish that we could see sin for what it really is! The mirage of pleasure and satisfaction it offers us is in reality the venom of a deadly serpent.
Yet, in spite of this knowledge, we still defend sin! Roy Horn, shortly after being mauled by his tiger pleaded, “Don’t harm the cat!” The tiger tasted his blood, almost decapitating him with his powerful bite, yet he defends the cat! Who knows why this wild animal did what he did? The tiger is not a domesticated house pet. In one brief moment that lesson was painfully, tragically remembered. A wild animal cannot be trusted, no matter how much familiarity his handler has with him. It’s just the nature of the beast.
Our sin must scare us. It must frighten us into reality. We should all shudder at its prospects. We can ill afford to become comfortable with it, much less nurture and cuddle it. It makes little difference if one sin is more deadly than another, for they all have what it takes to kill us! We must beware when we begin to reason that this “one little thing [sin] won’t hurt me.” Oh yes it will — it’s the nature of the beast!
— Mark White