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544. The Viper of Thoughts. June 27, 2024


And when they were escaped, then they knew that the island was called Melita (Malta). And the barbarous people shewed us no little kindness: for they kindled a fire, and received us every one, because of the present rain, and because of the cold. 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.


I grew up believing that the only good snake was a dead one. You'll understand the saying if you've been chased or attacked by an aggressive snake. 

Throughout the Bible, the snake is associated with sin and deceit. Eve was bitten by the piercing fangs of a serpent's deceit, and Paul was bitten by an equally deceitful viper hiding in the woodpile. There is even deceit in how a snake moves, sliding from side to side to mislead its prey.  

Was Paul's viper incident simply a coincidence?

We find that the viper didn't bite anyone else. It just went after the Born Again Christian leader. Call it a coincidence if you like. But I won't. Satan's vipers go after us in the same fashion, seeking to strike the hands that do the work. If he can stop the work, he's played his role. If he can get us to focus on the distraction instead of the work, leaving just enough time for venomous thoughts to merge with the spirit, then our minds will be preoccupied, and God's work will cease or be hampered. 

The viper was also small enough to easily hide in the work Paul was doing to increase the flame of the fire. Spiritual work is all about the flame of spiritual passion. 

Shaking the beast into the fire reminds us of 2 Cor 10:5: Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;

Paul shrugged the viper off as if it were an annoying fly. This shows how quickly we can shake off wrong thoughts, which produce wrong sayings and actions.

Satan's fangs try to inject venom, and the time to cast them down is immediately upon the first bite. Serpent bites have no impact when we are full of the Holy Spirit. The trouble is, we are not all full of the Holy Spirit, and Satan's bites aren't as sharp or painful as a snake but far more subtle. Therefore, we wait longer to despatch the snake and, in the meantime, get infected by evil thoughts and intentions.

Once we learn to resist the Devil and quickly flick the snake off, we will find he will flee far from us. 


Dear Lord, thank you for including this true story in your Word. It is an authentic object lesson for me in casting down wrong thoughts and how easily I can be duped if my Christianity gets lukewarm. 

Photo by Janko Ferlič


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