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Sensing the Serpent

Last Friday I took my dog for rattlesnake training. During this training, my dog encountered live muzzled rattlesnakes in three stations. One of those rattlesnakes could not rattle. In a fourth station my dog encountered only rattlesnake skins. A shock collar was attached to my dog and when he closely approached a rattlesnake or skin, a measured electric shock was applied. I love my dog and really don’t like the idea of shocking him, but I’d rather have him shocked than to have him be bitten by a rattlesnake. My dog can now recognize rattlesnakes in different circumstances and with three different senses: sight, sound, and smell (yes, rattlesnakes have a distinctive smell). Rattlesnake venom affects the body in various ways. The venom of most rattlesnakes in our area primarily contains substances that prevent coagulation of the blood and can destroy tissue and organs. There are elements in some of the venom of local rattlesnakes that are similar to that of cobras in that they attack the respiratory system, the nerves, and the heart. Permanent scarring can result. Limbs can be lost. Death sometimes results. I have a healthy fear of rattlesnakes!

In the Bible, Satan is represented as a serpent:

Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?

Genesis 3:1

We are told that the devil is subtil. A being that is subtil is crafty, cunning, and may use concealment to deceive.

The Apostle Paul expressed fear that the Corinthian believers would be ”beguiled” by the subtilty of this serpent. To beguile means to deceive or seduce:

But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.

II Corinthians 11:3

Rattlesnakes are often very difficult to distinguish from their surroundings. Years ago in Death Valley, a friend and I walked right past a rattler while a third friend was the only one of us to see it.

Just as a rattlesnake can be difficult to recognize, So that old serpent the devil can be difficult to recognize:

For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.

II Corinthians 11:13-15

As it was very important that my dog have his senses exercised to recognize rattlesnakes, the Christian must have his senses exercised to recognize Satan:

For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.

Hebrews 5:12-14

Having been saved for almost 50 years, I have never seen such a frightening lack of discernment in professing Christians when it comes to recognizing the devil and his ways. I’ll be very frank: the overwhelming majority of people that I know who claim to be Christians seem to have very little if any ability to recognize the devil’s subtil ways. This is either because they are lost or because they are “milk of the word” Christians. They are “unskilful in the word of righteousness”. They don’t have a healthy fear of the devil. They have heeded the siren sound of false teachers. They love this present world and scoff at godly warnings.

Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;

I Timothy 4:1

There are four species of rattlesnakes that live in San Diego County. The Speckled Rattlesnake is one of them and it lives in our local deserts. This snake frequents areas where granite rock is prevalent. Their coloring and skin pattern match this rock very closely. See the example below:

The devil is very subtil and his venom has eternal consequences. If you don’t recognize his ways, then perhaps you need a little “shocking”!

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