“He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel” (Genesis 3:15b).
“Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you” (Luke 10:19).
I was contemplating the concept of ‘power’ the other day, particularly as it relates to our battles with temptation and sin.
How often do we treat temptation as if it is a snake and we are merely a desperate snake-charmer, trying our best to either placate it, hold it at bay or dodge its next strike – allowing it to have the control, and reacting as best we can to avoid getting bit? Giving it the position of power does not give us freedom. It binds us.
To keep something at bay while playing defense is a recipe for defeat. Just ask any football fan who has watched his or her team blow a fourth quarter lead thanks to the ‘prevent defense.’
To compromise with wickedness is equally a recipe for defeat. Just ask the nations that thought a peace treaty with Hitler was a good idea.
But look at the Genesis passage above, and put your particular weakness in the role of the serpent for a moment. I see here two important truths related to that confrontation.
God tells the serpent “he [man] will bruise your head, and you will bruise his heel.” Let me work right to left.
God said “you will bruise his heel.” What this tells me is that sometimes our sin lands a blow, and that’s okay.
Well, I mean, it’s not okay, but it’s okay…if that makes sense.
We’re human. We make bad choices.
John writes “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins” (1 John 1:9), which presupposes we have sins that need confessing. In fact, he even goes on to write that if we say we have no sin, the truth isn’t in us (v. 10). (And remember, John is writing to church-going Christians here!)
Missteps and offenses are part of life. Temptation and weakness will get the upper hand once in a while. From the very beginning God acknowledged as much. It doesn’t mean we have a free pass, but it means His grace is enough to cover it.
The best part of this passage, though, is where God tells the serpent “he will bruise your head” or, in the NIV: “he will crush your head”.
God is using language that suggests not merely avoidance or keeping our sin at arm’s length, but outright aggression.
We were intended to meet the enemy head-on in the power of Christ. In Luke 10:19, Jesus tells His disciples “I give you authority to trample snakes and scorpions…” Again, His intention is for us to conquer.
Paul starts his ‘Armor of God’ discourse with the phrase, “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might…that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil” (Ephesians 6:10-11).
He didn’t say find a safe place to hunker down. Or learn some good footwork so you can dodge the blows. Or give it some slack so you can avoid the ‘big sins’.
He said “be strong, take on God’s power, and stand !”
So next time you’re faced with that habit or addiction or weakness that plagues you, remember that God doesn’t empower you to dance around it, He empowers you to meet it head on.
Don’t dance with it, don’t flirt with it – claim the power that resides in you as a believer, and crush it!
Let me close with one more verse. Something to cling to whenever you start to think that the serpent is too strong for you and all you can do is compromise or avoid…
“Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory” (Ephesians 6:20-21).