Summary: No Christian is immune to the LIES of the Evil One. Seduction is all around us. Yet through prayer, fellowship and a spirit of brotherly/sisterly love we can check in on ourselves and one another.
Sermon by Adam Cetrangolo
[Begin with latest Crown Casino Advertisement, http://www.myspace.com/video/vid/22809362]
What you have just seen is the most recent television advertisement for Crown Casino. It is the only one I could get a hold of for today and in some ways it is tamer than some of its predecessors. But what it does depict is Crown as a place of glamour and excitement … A world of entertainment!
Last month an Australian magazine printed the following comments regarding gambling in Australia:
• On average a person with a gambling problem loses about $12,000 a year, and even non-regular gamblers lose roughly $600 a year.
• There are estimated to be over 300,000 problem gamblers in Australia and for every problem gambler there are five people affected by their addiction. That’s 1.5 million Australians.
• Of every $100 spent on the pokies, at BEST only $87 is returned. In the long run, people lose.
• After casinos opened in Atlantic City in the USA CRIME in a thirty-mile radius increased by 100 percent.
• The average rate of divorce for problem gamblers is double.
• The suicide rate for problem gamblers is twenty times higher.
• Australians gambled a record $153.3 billion in 2006-07. Collectively, $18.2 billion was lost, $10.6 billion of it on pokies.
When I began reflecting on today’s reading, my mind immediately turned to commercials like this one … full of promise!
Let me say that I don’t want to say … emphatically … that Crown is evil or people who gamble are evil what I do want to say however is that there is a massive difference in what is promised in this advertisement and what we know the effects of gambling to actually be. One promises excitement, lifestyle, everything you could possibly hope for and desire … a world of entertainment and yet the documented research on problem gambling promises that what it actually delivers is: family breakdown, divorce, social dysfunction, massive debt, unrecoverable loss, crime and suicide.
The thing about it is … IT’S ENTICING … IT’S SEDUCTIVE
Evil always is.
Evil always has an enticing element … status, wealth, sex, fame, power – these things in and of themselves are not bad things but, if abused, carry the potential for corruption, injustice and Evil. Evil can even, under some circumstances, appears to be good. C.S. Lewis writes “There are two equal and opposite errors our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them. They themselves are equally pleased by both errors … readers are advised to remember that the devil is a liar … not everything that he says should be assumed to be true.”
For this reason, I have perhaps controversially called my sermon today:
Sex, Lies and Videotape. And though controversial, I think the title is rather apt because John has a vision (not a video but a vision) about the insidiousness of sex, lies and corrupt power—which we ourselves have witnessed from time to time—but he also sees something that we do not see: a vision of the fate of Evil itself.
As believers it is easy to think of Evil – out there – stuff that we choose to not partake in.
But our passage today outlines the subtlety and the seductive nature of sin. It presents a false reality and we are left to choose the COUNTERFEIT or the REAL DEAL … sometimes its not obvious and it is only after we have engaged in something for a while do we realise that it has some Evil implications. Some of us in small ways, and so of us in big ways are seduced by the subtlety of Evil …. what are the subtle openings for Evil in your own life? … Well … we’ll return to this question later?
But for the moment I want to suggest that as we move quickly through chapters 17-19, that we might divide this reading into three parts:
1. The Seduction of Evil (as we have just heard read);
2. The Fate of Evil;
3. The Victory over Evil.
Now at this point, I must congratulate you! Because you have endured several months of beasts, dragons, angels, cherubim and seraphim and we have had to wade through a lot of symbolic imagery to understand the deeper meanings of the book of Revelation … AND NOW you might be thinking: haven’t we already dealt with all this victory over evil stuff? Several weeks ago Chris had the Hallelujah chorus resounding through the Church, then Heather exposed the Devil to us. Last week it was the 144,000 of God’s Elect … how come we’re back to Evil again? And it is a very good question ….