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The Serpent Metaphor

In the bible, the serpent is used as a metaphor for the Devil. The serpent uses lies to tempt and persuade people to sin. After their sins have made them vulnerable, the serpent gains spiritual power over them.

Serpents have long been associated with evil. The serpent or snake is commonly used as a metaphor to describe a deceptive person. This metaphor comes from the bible, where the serpent is one of many names given to Satan himself (Revelation 12.9).

Of course reasonable people know that natural snakes aren't the problem. Snakes (like many animals) can be dangerous, but they're not demonic servants of the Devil. The bible uses the serpent as a metaphor to convey deeper knowledge.

The bible informs us about the Devil through the metaphor of the serpent. The serpent metaphor is an insight into the nature of the Devil, and how he operates in the world. The serpent metaphor reveals the Devil's tactics and modus operandi, through which he takes control of people's lives.

Any general or strategist will tell you that if you want to have success in dealing with an enemy, you must have information about that enemy. You must be able to identify your enemy's habits, motivations, and behaviors. If you can't see your enemy you are at a disadvantage.

Serpents are ambush predators. They don't chase down their prey, but instead rely on its carelessness. When the prey happens to get too close, the serpent will quickly strike it. The serpent then backs off, and allow its venom to work. It waits in the shadows while the venom paralyzes, digests, and destroys the animal from the inside out.

This is the serpent's survival strategy, and how it derives strength from other creatures. It doesn't seek confrontation, but relies on stealth and the power if its venom. Only after the prey is completely helpless will the serpent swallow it.

Obviously, the Devil doesn't go around literally biting and poisoning people, but he does overpower and consume them on a spiritual level. He increases his power over them in a pattern that's similar to the way that natural serpents hunt and feed. The way of the natural serpent tells us how the Devil operates.

The serpent has a forked tongue.

The venom of the biblical serpent is not a literal poison, but something more insidious and dangerous. The serpent's poison is his lies. From the beginning, the Devil has been a liar and a father of lies (John 8.44). He uses the power of his lies to create dissension between man and God.

The Devil's power comes from lies, not truth. His lies are a spiritual toxin that destroys those who listen. His lies create estrangement between man and God so that man becomes spiritually vulnerable. As souls become lost, the serpent gains more authority over them.

The lies of the serpent create false thoughts and perceptions.

The power of a lie is to create distorted thoughts and perceptions. The Devil's lies create false perceptions within people so that they think and act in ways that alienate them from God. They become estranged from God in both their minds and actions.

Of course man can err on his own. However, many of the most destructive lies originate from spiritual places. The serpent is a trafficker of lies, and has sown many over time. We are all influenced by the cess pool of spiritual lies that are in the world.

The serpent's lies can take many forms. They often work on our individual dispositions, weaknesses, and insecurities. These false thoughts and perceptions take root within the vessels of our minds. They poison our minds so that we can't find the right path.

The serpent's lies can tear people down, and make them feel worthless. Other times the lies can puff up and flatter people, getting them to think they're special. The lies can make us arrogant so that we see other people's faults more than our own.

The lies can target any part of our lives; from our self-perceptions, to our relationships, to our perceptions of the past. Often the lies poison our values so we pursue worthless things. Whatever form they take, lies are distortions of reality that alienate us from God.

Often the lies turn people away from true deliverance, "Those [seeds] by the way side are they that hear; then cometh the devil, and taketh away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved" (Luke 8.12 KJV bible).

Among groups of people, there are often lies that inflame feelings of anger, hatred, fear, and jealousy. People then react to these lies, and social trust breaks down. Many false perceptions have led to chaos, war, and suffering.

Perhaps the greatest delusion is the one that we all experience. It's the belief that we'd be happy if we got our way all the time. It comes from a spirit of self-righteousness and a lack of faith. There is great peace in overcoming this delusion.

Most people don't recognize the power of deception in our thoughts. Perceptions and beliefs control our thoughts, which in turn control our actions. We grow up in a world of lies, and as certain lies take root in our minds, they affect our thoughts. These thoughts create a compulsion to sin through words and actions.

Sin can lead us deeper into spiritual death.

When our sins increase, we become more alienated from God. This gives the serpent more power over us, making us more susceptible to him. We often respond to the grief we feel by using sin as an outlet. This can create a downward spiral, in which we try to deal with our grief and misery through sin, but in the end we create more problems.

This is similar to the alcoholic who drinks to drown his sorrows, but his drinking has also created many of them. Another example is the overeater who is sad and depressed about her life, so she copes with this grief by overeating more. In both examples, they are coping with their spiritual problems in ways that make them worse.

Perhaps worse than self-destruction are those who harm others. Some people inflict harm on others as a way to cope with their own inner turmoil. They can't heal inside because they're filled with lies. So they manifest their inner demons outward onto other people as a release. They learn to feel better at someone else's expense.

Often the things people do to feel better in life end up driving them deeper into darkness. The resulting destruction is sometimes called the snare of the Devil. These are temptations that bind us spiritually, and make our problems worse.

The snare of the Devil binds us, "In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will" (2nd Timothy 2.25-26 KJV bible).

The path of sin is a snare. The snare becomes tighter as we struggle to escape from it. Our own ways of coping with it lead deeper into its power, and this is the serpent's gain.

Some people embrace the serpent's lies more than others.

All people sin, but there are some individuals who are drawn to the Devil's lies more than others. For these ones, the lies are a liberation. They help them realize their innermost desires. The lies provide them with a spirit of self-righteousness that they embrace.

The wicked embrace the lies of their spiritual father, "Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it. And because I tell you the truth, ye believe me not" (John 8.44-45 KJV bible).

They love the wages of unrighteousness, and have no desire for the light of God. They despise the truth because it stands against what they feel in their hearts. To the wicked, the serpent's lies are a gospel of power. He is their spiritual father, and they follow after him.

Of course most unbelievers are not the Devil's children, "For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves" (Romans 2.14 KJV bible). (see Can Unbelievers be Saved?).

Christ gives us immunity to the serpent's lies.

Spiritual lies are sinister because they influence our thoughts and perceptions. The problem with overcoming them is that we have no inner truth to defeat them. We don't have an inner light that exposes lies. We are sinners who were born into sin, and can't enlighten ourselves.

Our natural thought process is corrupted and entangled by false perceptions. Many of these false perceptions reach down to our subconscious level. We often aren't aware of what we feel deep in our hearts. Its only by grace and healing that we can emerge out from the confusion and darkness that exists in us.

Christ is the antidote to the poison of lies that sickens us. In him, we are finally cut loose from the serpent's snare, and sobered up from the toxin of deceit. When we have strong faith in him, we are spiritually immune to the serpent's venom.

"And when Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks, and laid them on the fire, there came a viper out of the heat, and fastened on his hand. And when the barbarians saw the venomous beast hang on his hand, they said among themselves, No doubt this man is a murderer, whom, though he hath escaped the sea, yet vengeance suffereth not to live. And he shook off the beast into the fire, and felt no harm" (Acts 28.3-5 KJV bible).

The authority of Christ protects us from the venom of deception, "Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you" (Luke 10.5 KJV bible).

When we understand the serpent metaphor we have better insight into how the Devil operates. He and his servants are predators that seek power within the world. They survive by lies and deceit. The testimony of Christ guides us into spiritual freedom from these lies and bondage.

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