Recognizing the demonic and the self-centeredness of addictions.
The sharp-nosed, black-capped vendor hustled from one customer to the next, stooping under the trolley then back up again, always with just the right bottle for each desire. Some shoppers crinkled their noses and turned away. Others lingered, glancing furtively over their shoulders, and eventually bought. A few slipped up, shoved their money into the vendor’s hands, and slunk swiftly away with their bottles tucked out of sight.
The bottles all looked the same but for their labels. One popular label said “Lust,” another “Power,” another “Prestige,” another “Money,” still another “Altered State of Mind.” Other bottles in the pile read “Arrogance,” “Self pity,” “Unforgiveness,” even “Laziness.”
When people turned away from the vendor, some held their bottles proudly. Others concealed them under their jackets or in shopping bags. Some opened their bottles and drank right there, and with every one a sweet grenadine perfume wafted through the air.
Customers knowing exactly what they wanted smiled to reveal teeth rotted from frequent use. Whatever the label, the syrup seemed to have the same effect on every customer: rotting teeth that refused cleansing, fixing, and anything but more of the sweet syrup. Some veteran customers wheezed from rotted lungs and rotted stomachs as they told the vendor their need. Each time the vendor pulled out a bottle for their clutching hands.
A little girl slipped away from her mother, who stood perplexed over which bottle to buy. The little girl wandered in a circle then stood behind the vendor and watched curiously. A shopper spoke to the vendor as he nodded with a smile. He crouched down behind the trolley, pulled the label off a bottle, and pasted a different label on. He then handed the bottle to the eager customer and took the money. The little girl proudly proclaimed her discovery. “It’s all the same stuff, Mommy! The man just changes the labels!”
The vendor reeled on her with flaming eyes and bared teeth. She froze. He seethed at her and reached for her throat. The shocked mother glared at the bottle in her hand and dropped it to the concrete. Glass shattered and syrup splattered across the sidewalk and on the vendor, whose hand had just reached the girl’s neck. He turned on the mother with an ear piercing shriek, saliva and blood dripping from his mouth.
Then he noticed other customers staring in shock. He stopped, politely closed his mouth, smiled, and stepped back to the trolley. Turning away from the mother and little girl, he drew his customers’ attention back to the bottles.
The customers kicked the glass shards aside. One asked, “Did anything happen?”
Another answered, “No, nothing.”
The others breathed sighs of relief and went on purchasing.
For Thought and Discussion
- In whatever way he does it, Satan tries to separate us from God. As he entices according to self-centered cravings and carnal desires, it ultimately doesn’t matter what he employs to separate us, for we will still be separate just the same. Name as many ways as you can how Satan separates people from God. How has submission to carnal desires separated you from God?
- When we become aware of Satan’s schemes and live with dedication to God, we may experience Satan’s temptations or attacks. Many people seem to prefer going along with what satisfies their cravings rather than living for the truth. How can this be sweet—then rotting—like the syrup? What does Romans 1:21–25 have to say about it?
- Romans 8:38–39 says that nothing can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus. How have you experienced God’s grace and power in helping you overcome what separated you from God? How might you need that grace and power now?