The Bible describes the devil in many ways. One of the better-known descriptions is of the devil walking around like a lion, seeking whom he may devour (1 Peter 5:8). Lions have different hunting methods. Coincidentally, the devil also uses different means and schemes to attack us (2 Corinthians 2:11), ), even during the holidays when we attempt to spend more time to God, just as soon as we are done eating, spending, and stressing about how much we have eaten and spent. Even trickier than the lion’s tactics, the devil’s own are not inherently dangerous. They can be good things that are used, or misused, in such a way that we stumble into the devils’ traps. The bottom line is that the devil has anything and everything in this world at his disposal to ensnare us. To make a list of every device Satan can use would fill the entire Internet (incidentally one of his devices). To be more succinct, I am focusing on only five.
We can think of entertainment as any activity, sight, or sound that causes amusement or pleasure. Something like watching a movie, playing a video game, or even reading a blog. Over time, though, people can develop an emotional attachment to the thing providing amusement or pleasure. How many people have you heard say, “I love this TV show” or more dangerous still that they “love” a celebrity? The concern here is that celebrities can turn into idols rather quickly. There are television programs and magazines devoted entirely to who is starring in what, what that person ate and drank last night, and “who” or what they are wearing to a star-studded event. It is much more than just television programs and magazines. Pick three mainstream news websites of your choice. At least two, if not all, of them will have sections or articles on celebrities. Why? People find amusement and pleasure in reading that information.
How much time do we spend on social media? According to one study, Facebook had 1.49 billion active users monthly during the second quarter of 2015. Another reported Facebook users spend a cumulative 700 billion minutes on Facebook every month. A 2012 survey even found that 75% of Americans admit to using their smartphone while in the bathroom! Take a moment to calculate how much time you have been spending with technology. How does it compare to the amount of time you spend reading the Bible, listening to a sermon, or talking with fellow believers about your faith? Sure, you might use apps and websites for faith-based purposes, but I sometimes feel the urge to check scores, read status updates, and play games, when I have lost interest in Scripture readings and sermons. I also feel like I am missing something when I do not have my phone or Internet-capable device. No, I may not be worshipping my Nook and iPhone, but an object of extreme devotion is still an idol, and devotion can be the use of time, money, or energy for a particular purpose.
Long before anyone dreamed up Hollywood and Apple, money was a device used by Satan. It still is today. Money itself is not evil, rather the love of money is (1 Timothy 6:10). People crave money. Others keep it close, especially if they worked for that money. On that note, however, Jesus tells us that no one can serve two masters (Matthew 6:24, Luke 16:13). When was the last time you dreaded tithing or making that faith promise for missions? I will be honest and say that there are times I have been stingy with “my money,” and I do not think I am alone here.
Many countries of the world have an obsession with a sport. The United States is obsessed with all sports. Go down any magazine or cereal aisle and you will see pictures of athletes, team logos, or promotions for a sport in and out of season. Here in the southeastern United States, we talk about football whether it is February or September. Therein lies the problem. Sports often reign over our lives if we are not careful. No matter the sport, the competition alone generates conversations. That leads people, even Christians at church, into seemingly endless debates that take our attention away from God.
Regardless of whether it is an election year or not, people talk politics. A lot of people I know talk about their favorite politician or candidate on a first-name basis. They may quote a tweet from their favorite candidate as though it is gospel truth. It is one thing to identify with a candidate. It is another thing to put your faith in that candidate as the solution to all of our country’s ills. If people want to go down that road, that is certainly their choice, but Psalm 118:8 tells us that it is better to put our trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man.
I am not proposing we become monks and avoid these areas of temptation. While some people use them for immoral reasons, entertainment, technology, money, sports, and politics are amoral. And there is nothing wrong with being engrossed at times when these things, even during Christmas and the start of a New Year. The problem is that our hearts are idol factories, as John Calvin once noted. Therefore, getting our hearts right with the Lord will help protect us from idolizing forms of entertainment, sports, etc. After all, we know the devil wants to distract us, divide us, and even sway us from the Lord. We have to be careful not to give him too much time by allowing ourselves to become engrossed in things of this world. If we do, Satan may take advantage of us.