Slightly Obsessed #254: Be Not Deceived

Can you tell the difference between Good and evil? are you sure?


“But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to distinguish between good and evil.”

-Hebrews 5:14

We walked through the tall, dry grass with a forester friend as we checked out the progress of the fledgling evergreens on our property overlooking the Clearwater River valley. The men sauntered down the hill, intently inspecting the little trees. The friend’s wife followed. I brought up the rear, watching my feet.

In this part of the country, you never know what might be lying in your path.

Toward the bottom of the hill, I heard the buzz and saw the grass part beside me. The rattler had lain quietly while the others passed, and only alerted at my approach.

I shrieked. The snake crawled away. My husband carried me back up the hill.

In northcentral Idaho live two species of snakes that look remarkably alike to the casual observer. The bullsnake, a subspecies of the harmless gopher snake, has a pattern much like its venomous neighbor, the Northern Pacific rattlesnake.

When threatened, it coils and shakes its tail in warning. A longer inspection reveals this species to have a longer, thinner body and rounder head. The above photo is one of a bullsnake.

The rattlesnake is fatter, shorter, and more docile. Its head has the characteristic viper triangular shape with the hooded eyes. Its tail has the namesake rattles to warn an intruder. Sometimes, the first alert to its presence is its distinctive, loud buzz. Occasionally, it gives no warning, and you must be able to recognize it before it strikes.

Both snakes are beneficial hunters.

One can kill you.

Satan is compared to a snake in the Bible because of several common qualities:

  • His predatory nature. Snakes hunt and feed on the vulnerable.
  • The ability to camouflage his presence. Like a snake, he blends into his surroundings to get close to his prey.
  • His deadly bite. In John 10:10, we read that Satan comes “to steal and kill and destroy” (John 10:10 NASB)

In our part of the country, it’s imperative to know the difference between a harmless snake and a venomous one.  It’s a solemn reminder that it’s a deadly error to either denounce the innocent as evil or fail to recognize danger ahead. It takes trial and error, success and failure, to discern good from evil.

We live in challenging times. The temptation is strong to either ignore the warning signs or to lash out blindly at those around us. Our charge is to be as wise as the serpent. Know what is good and what is evil. Watch your path and be smarter than your adversary. And always, be as gentle as the Spirit of God.

Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. 

Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.

-Matthew 10:16 (NKJV)

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