Imagine the largest arena in the world. You notice that this arena is engulfed in complete darkness, except for a few sections that are illuminated with artificial lighting and a few sections that are lit with bright natural lighting.
A gigantic neon sign is the focal point for those on the playing field, its huge letters proclaiming PURSUE HAPPINESS. Many of the players in the arena are convinced that this is the main objective of the game. Some however, actually choose to play in the natural light.
The huge coliseum is filled with countless alternatives offering assurances of happiness. Enticing voices promoting the many possibilities of pleasure echo throughout the great stadium. The natural light stands in stark contrast to the blistering artificial light. And so, many of the players zealously give their lives to neon sign activities that promise to bring them the happiness they so desire.
But then one day the game is over. As each player steps off the field they catch a glimpse of what awaits them. Only then do they know how wisely or unwisely they played the game. As they glance back at the arena from a distance, many are horrified as they realize that the neon artificial lights were the con games of the master manipulator. If only they had understood sooner! But now the game is over. All that remains is an eternity of consequences.
Three Observations about Life in the Arena
1. Satan dominates the arena of life in which we live.
1 John 5:19 tells us, “We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one.” God created the arena of life. God gave human beings control of the arena, but they turned it over to Satan through disobedience. God is allowing Satan’s control so the arena can be a place of testing and character development for all people. However, God has placed limits on what Satan is permitted to do.
In some ways Satan is like a conniving Las Vegas casino manager. You may never see him, but he is always at work behind the scenes. He is constantly introducing new ways to entice you to gamble away part of your life while using loaded dice. But eventually God is going to put him out of business.
John 12:31 says, “Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out.”
2. Satan uses elaborate schemes of deception to fool us into doing what he wants us to do.
John 8:44 says, “He (Satan) was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.
Satan is a terrorist, he specializes in fear tactics. He is also a deceiver, a master of illusion.
As you think back to the arena illustration, parts of the arena are constructed like a movie set. It is carefully lit so that when you look at it from the front you believe it’s real. But it truly is only a façade. There’s nothing behind it, it’s all show.
In many ways, it resembles Las Vegas at night. The elaborate lights create an atmosphere of glamour, fun, and excitement. But when the daylight comes, the dirt, imperfections, and disappointment are revealed. Satan uses fear and deception to get us to do things that are contrary to God’s will.
3. God wants us to wise up to what is really going on and live according to his truth.
Titus 3:3 tells us, “At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures.”
God uses the term “foolish” to describe those who buy into the con games of Satan. God doesn’t want us to be fools! He wants us to wise up to what’s really going on. He reveals truth to us, but we need to embrace that truth and stop falling for Satan’s lies.