The devil wants to deceive us. Sometimes he does this by telling us an outright lie. He lied to Eve when he said, “You will not surely die” (Gen. 3:4). Tragically, this worked for him then and it still works today. At other times he is more underhanded. When he challenged Jesus to jump off a pinnacle of the temple, he quoted Psalm 91:11-12. The words he cited were true, but the way he applied them was false.
Satan used this latter approach when he argued with God about Job. He said Job was not sincere and insisted that he could prove it. He told God Job was only being good because of the things God gave him. His challenge to God was this: take away his blessings and he will curse you to your face (Job 1:9-11). God allowed the devil to test Job’s character. Job lost what he had and Satan lost the argument. But the devil was not finished.
When God later chided the devil about misjudging Job, he quickly made an excuse: “Skin for skin! Yes, all that a man has he will give for his life” (Job 2:4). A man will do whatever it takes to “save his hide” or “save his own skin.” Satan argued that Job was no better than most men. He just surrendered what he had to preserve his life.
Satan misrepresented Job, but what he said is true of many people. They will give anything they have to save their life.
In some cases this is the sensible and right thing to do. If a thug holds a gun to your head and demands your wallet, it makes no sense to let him take your life and your money if giving him what you have will save your life.
The trillions of dollars that are poured into health care prove that there is some truth in the devil’s words. When people have to choose between their belongings and their life, most will give up what they have to live. I am not saying this is necessarily wrong. After, which is more important—life or things?
Self preservation can be taken too far, however. When people are so afraid of dying that they forget about heaven and hell, they have let the devil deceive them. When they are more concerned about the health of the body than the salvation of their soul, they have been blinded by Satan. The past year has shown that most people, including some who claim to be Christians, are more afraid of losing their physical life than they are of losing their soul.
Jesus faced death so that we will not have to live in bondage to the fear of it (Heb. 2:14-15). We will always have a natural fear of dying, but we don’t have to live with a “spirit of fear” (II Tim. 1:7). Now more than ever we need to live a bold, happy, and productive life for the Lord. Most people will give up anything to extend their life on earth for a few days, but as Christians we have vowed to give up everything for Him (Matt. 16:24-26). That is what He did for us.