Our home’s master bath had an ant problem. There were ants everywhere. I think the main attraction for them was the water in the shower, but they were making a nuisance of themselves all over the bathroom. Ants are like that, you know. The wise man used them as an example of diligence and industry that the lazy human would do well to consider: “Go to the ant, you sluggard! Consider her ways and be wise. Which, having no captain, overseer or ruler, provides her supplies in the summer, and gathers her food in the harvest” (Pro. 6:6-7). Brother, the wise man was not kidding; our colony of ants was pestering the daylights out of Amy and me with their incessant work schedule! Something had to be done!
So, something I did. I went to a local hardware store, told them of my plight, and asked their recommendation for getting rid of our little pests. The hardware store sold me some Terro Liquid Ant Bait. The salesman said it was the best thing he had ever used for ants who have invaded the inside of a home.
According to the packaging, Terro Liquid Ant Bait contains 94.6 percent “other ingredients.” That is the stuff that ants really like and is actually quite good for them (sugar, water, etc.). The ants are drawn to the bait by the 94.6 percent ingredients. But Terro Liquid Ant Bait contains 5.4 percent sodium tetraborate detrahydrate (common name Borax), which is lethal to ants (and to all other living things in high enough dosages).
The ant bait did the trick. The ants came to the bait in droves. The Borax fulfilled its mission. By the second day there were only a few ants milling around. By the third day all ant activity had ceased in the master bath.
Do you know that sin is like that Borax concealed in Terro Liquid Ant Bait? Sin is poison to the soul. Its effect is spiritual death to those who participate in it, even a little bit (Rom. 5:12; 6:23). Sin does not advertise itself for what it really is, but rather hides itself within promises of pleasure.
Hebrews 11:25 tells us that Moses chose to suffer with his captive brethren rather than enjoy the passing pleasures of sin. The challenge for Moses is the same challenge for all of us, to see through the pleasure sin advertises and recognize it for what it really is, spiritual poison.
In 2 Peter 2:18-19, Peter makes the same point about the false advertisement of sin. He describes false teachers – presumptuous, self-willed men who bring destructive doctrines into the Lord’s church – who hide their spiritual poison behind great swelling words and allure the spiritually weak with teachings that appeal to the desires of the flesh. Peter writes that such men make empty promises of freedom, but in fact their teaching turns saints into slaves of corruption. The doctrines espoused by such false teachers are spiritual Borax.
Evidently God did not equip ants with the ability to think through the warning signs of ant bait. They must be totally incapable of suspicion. I mean, think about it: All of a sudden, here is this ample supply of really tasty sugar water, in a nice little package that is tailor made for ants to enter, mysteriously appearing right in front of the ants’ entrance into the house. That should raise about a dozen red flags to any creature capable of raising them. And even more suspicious, there are dead ants all over the place! I am not sure what is the ant equivalent of a skull and crossbones, but whatever it is, the ants should have seen it in their minds plastered all over the Terro Liquid Ant Bait station. But they are ants, and so they did not.
Fortunately, God has equipped mankind with the capacity for suspicion, to think through the warning signs, to identify the spiritual poison hidden behind feel-good activities and empty promises. It is only to man that God has given the capacity for seeing the “poison” in the “sugar water,” to understand when something is not what it seems, to see through a lie. The Corinthian church was notorious for not being able to identify the warning signs of spiritual poison, and so Paul encourages them in 1 Cor. 14:20 to “not be children in understanding . . . but in understanding be mature.”
And it is through God’s word that we come to understand just what is spiritual poison to us. The psalmist wrote in Psa. 119:104, “Through Your precepts I get understanding, therefore I hate every false way.” Paul wrote in Rom. 7:7 about the value of God’s precepts in this regard, “I would not have known sin except through the law. For I would not have known covetousness unless the law had said, ‘You shall not covet.’” He is speaking of the Law of Moses in that passage, but what he says applies to all of God’s words; they identify the spiritual Borax that Satan tries so diligently to mask as harmless or even helpful.
The point of all this? There are two points, really. One: Read your Bible. Read it to learn what sin is and how Satan has disguised it. And two: Live circumspectly. Stay sensible. Keep a watch out for hidden dangers to your spiritual life. “Test all things; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil” (1 Thess. 5:21-22). Remain constant in those two points, and you can avoid the deception that destroys the ant.