The Trojan Horse
This calls for wisdom: let the one who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man, and his number is 666. Revelation 13:18
When I first allowed opioid pills into my life, I had no idea how much they would eventually cost me. My decision at that time was based solely on the fact that I liked what the pills did for me. There was no counting the cost. There was no asking what my wife might think. There was no weighing the pros and cons. Because I wanted pills, I invited that trojan horse – and absolute destruction – into my life. By the time I realized what I’d done, it was too late. Addiction was in, and it didn’t plan to leave quietly. Instead, it took profound loss for me to eventually do what it took to violently abandon it, finding recovery.
Today’s passage describes such a trojan horse. In it, John continued writing about the mark of the beast. He said that to recognize it would require vigilance and wisdom. As I said yesterday, the mark of the beast won’t be some sign saying, “I worship Satan”. The mark of the beast rather, will be something terribly subtle and attractive – something which we all want. It may not be a requirement at first, but then evil will spring its trap and following the beast – wearing his mark – will be necessary simply to live in the world at that time.
The scary thing is, we’ve all got little destructive trojan horses we’ve allowed into our lives. According to surveys, a majority of the men sitting in church on Sunday morning are regularly viewing pornography on their computers or smart phones. We didn’t know the first time, way back when, that it would one day damage our marriages and that we’d pass the struggle on to our sons. We didn’t count the cost, weighing the pros and cons. We just wanted it and so, we invited it in, thereby embracing misery, shame, and marital strife. Looking back, we see the trojan horse, but now it’s too late because we’re addicted and the thing that came out of that trojan horse isn’t going away easily or quietly. We let it in and now we’re stuck with it. So, we have a few choices. We can learn to live with the guilt and shame, trying desperately to keep it a secret while being spiritually paralyzed for the rest of our lives. Or we can daily do what it takes to painfully and violently abandon it. And the next time of course, we must learn to count the cost before we open the door to something evil, simply because we want it.