Is it possible for the heart to walk after the eyes? How does our eyes lead to an ensnared heart that traps us in sin? As we take in the world around us, our eyes “see” before the heart “feels.” Satan knows that our eyes are one of the primary gates through which he can tempt us. From the Garden of Eden to today, the “lust of the eyes” is one of the ways that Satan tempts us to sin. Perhaps this is why David prayed, “Turn away mine eyes from beholding vanities.” (Psalm 119:37). David understood how easily the eyes will lead to an ensnared heart.
1 John 2:16 says, “For everything that belongs to the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride in one’s lifestyle—is not from the Father, but is from the world.“
An open gate to sin and an ensnared heart
Our eyes can be an open gate that leads us to the sin of lust. When our eye see something that we want, the fires of lust are kindled and if we allow eyes to feast on the person or thing we are lusting for, it will not take long before the spark turns into an inferno that consumes our mind and our heart. The moment our eyes look with lust, our heart will follow and it becomes ensnared and sin is sure to occur.
We need to be aware of how our eyes can mislead our heart and cause us to lust. Jesus taught this truth in Matthew 5:28: “But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” He understand that our eyes is the open gate that leads us to the sin of lust and adultery. For this reason we must guard our hearts to prevent our eyes from seducing our hearts. Proverbs 4:23 tell us to “Guard your heart above all else, for it is the source of life.”
Sin dwells in an ensnared heart
In Scripture, the heart is the seat of indwelling sin and from it, sin springs up. However, the eye allures the heart and causes the sin to leap from the heart so that we act on it. What the eye sees, stirs the heart to sin. King Solomon warned us of this in Ecclesiastes 9:3, saying, “The hearts of all people are full of evil.” He tells us the hearts of all people are not just tainted by sin, but indeed, full of sin.
Jesus also told us us that the heart is full of sin in Matthew 15:18-20, “But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these things defile a person. For out of the heart come evil ideas, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. These are the things that defile a person; it is not eating with unwashed hands that defiles a person.”
Satan used the eyes in the temptation of Jesus, but did not ensnare His heart
We find in Matthew 4:8-10, “Again, the devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to Him, “All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me.” Then Jesus said to him, “Away with you, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.’ ”Worship the Lord your God, and serve only Him.
Satan used the eyes of Jesus to tempt him as he showed Jesus the beauty of the world and said that he would give Jesus all that He saw if Jesus would worship Satan. But let’s pause for just a moment and remember who the creator of the world was. The world already belonged to Jesus — He is the creator. It wasn’t Satan’s to give away in the first place. Because Jesus’ heart did not know sin, His heart did not walk after His eyes and lead Him to sin.
Satan used the eyes in the temptation of Eve and she allowed her eyes to lead to an ensnared heart
Genesis 3:6 tells us how Satan used Eve’s eyes to ensnare her heart: “So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate”
The desire for the fruit was awakened through the lust of the eyes, ensnared Eve’s heart and led her to sin. I imagine the scene in the Garden of Eden unfolding and in my mind I see Eve sitting on the grass near the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, petting one of the animals in the garden. Somewhere close by, a serpent lies in slumber and then Satan enters the serpent and begins to watch Eve…and he waits. If he wants to be successful, he’ll need the perfect moment. He notices that Eve gives several curious glances at the Tree God said they could not eat of and then he hears Eve’s belly rumble. “AH!” He thinks, “She’s hungry. This is the perfect moment.” And so, the serpent crawls over to Eve and the infamous conversation begins.”
Four Ways our eyes lead to an ensnared heart
Now this is just how my imagination sees this scene playing out. The Bible doesn’t really tell us what’s going on before the serpent begins to converse with Eve. Nor does it tell us if a talking serpent was normal or if this is the only serpent that could talk. It also doesn’t tell us how long Eve had been created, so perhaps she’s not aware that serpents were not supposed to talk. She certainly doesn’t appear shocked or scared that a serpent is talking to her. Regardless of how it all went down in the Garden that day, Satan used the lust of Eve’s eyes to awaken sin in her heart – and Eve fell for it.
And so, if we want to avoid the same mistake Eve made, we need to be aware of four ways our eyes lead to an ensnared heart.
1. We can have an ensared heart through the wantoness of our eyes
Wantonness is the trait of lacking restraint or control. It is a reckless freedom from inhibition or worry. It is the abandonment of what is right and choosing what is wrong without any restraint. Wantonness is the extreme indulgence in sensual pleasures.
Wantonness of our eyes will always mislead our hearts and put us in danger of an ensnared heart. In Job 31:1, Job made a covenant with his eyes so that he won’t think lustfully upon another woman. He believes that his life is lived before and governed by God who numbers all his steps. Job acknowledges that there is nothing he can do and nowhere he can God that God is not aware of it. So then God knows that Job has avoided sexual lust and he eyes have not ensnared his heart into adultery.
Then in verses 5-8, Job tells his friends that if he has walked with falsehood or his foot has hastened to deceit, if his step has turned aside from the way and his heart has gone after his eyes, then let God be the one to judge, who will judge with righteousness and find him innocent. Because Job had made a covenant with his eyes, he can stand before God in all innocent and with full integrity.
2. We can have an ensnared heart through a proud look
When we have a proud look, we look down on others in a condescending way. We think more highly of ourselves than we should while looking scornfully, disdainfully, or arrogantly at others. Our eyes can make us see ourselves as superior to others and ensnares our heart into the sin of pride. Proverbs 6:16-17 says, “These six things the Lord hates, Yes, seven are an abomination to Him: A proud look, A lying tongue, Hands that shed innocent blood. A heart that devises wicked plans, Feet that are swift in running to evil, A false witness who speaks lies, And one who sows discord among brethren.”
It is interesting that the seven abominations to God begin with a proud look. Pride often leads to a lying tongue, shedding of innocent blood, the devising of wicked plans, running toward evil, being a false witness, and sowing discord. Proverbs 16:18 tells us, “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.”
3. We can have an ensnared heart through eyes that covet
“Covet” is most commonly defined as “desire.” To covet something means to desire it and for a person to want to take it for themselves. The Ten Commandments tell us not to covet (Exodus 20:17). We need to know that when the Lord issues a commandment, he is protecting us from something harmful, not restraining us from something good. God’s call to forsake covetousness hems us in, dissuading us from running after things that, on their own, disappoint, distract, or even destroy. He instead calls us to what is truly good, worthy, and satisfying: himself.
Coveting, a sin inextricably tied to our want, is a corruption of what was created in us to be the mechanism that draws us to the Lord. Our want is the door through which we enter into satisfaction in God. Coveting turns our attention from our good Provider and fixates it on anything of lesser value. It leads us to believe that we can be satisfied in creation apart from the Creator.
In Joshua 7, we find the sin of Achan – a sin of covetousness. In verse 21, Achan confesses, “When I saw among the spoils a goodly Babylonish garment, and two hundred shekels of silver, and a wedge of gold of fifty shekels weight, then I coveted them, and took them; and, behold, they are hid in the earth in the midst of my tent, and the silver under it.” In this verse we find the progressive sin of covetousness and it started with Achan “seeing” the spoils. Once he saw, it provoked him to take and hide the forbidden spoils.
The sight of the eye blows up covetous desires into our hearts (Ecclesiastes 5:11).
4. We can have an ensnared heart through idolatry
Idolatry is the worship of something other than God. Idolatry is the root of all sin because it seeks to steal glory from God. This is what we see happen when Moses is on the mountain and the nation of Israel begins to wonder what happened to him. So they came to Aaron, and said “Come, make us gods that shall go before us.” After Aaron had the people bring to him their gold jewelry, he melted it all down and created a golden calf, then said, “This is your god, O Israel, that brought you out of the land of Egypt! They wanted something visible to worship.
But idolatry is also more than just bowing down before a physical idol. We can be guilty of making idols out of our careers, money, possessions, spouses, children, and hobbies. Whenever we place anything before God or give something a higher importance than God, we make that item or person an idol in our lives.
A visual reminder
God knew that Israel would struggle with their hearts being ensnared by their eyes leading them to spiritual whoredom and fornication by abandoning God and choosing to worship idols. . So, He gave them a visual reminder to help them focus on His commandments. In Numbers 15:38-39 God says, “Speak to the children of Israel: Tell them to make tassels on the corners of their garments throughout their generations, and to put a blue thread in the tassels of the corners. And you shall have the tassel, that you may look upon it and remember all the commandments of the Lord and do them, and that you may not follow the harlotry to which your own heart and your own eyes are inclined.
Today, we too, have a visual reminder to help keep our eyes from ensnaring our heart – it is the Word of God. This is why we are to read our Bibles every day, meditate on it, and hide it in our hearts. When Jesus was tempted, He defeated Satan by quoting scripture. If we memorize God’s Word, when Satan comes to tempt us, the Holy Spirit will recall the Scriptures we have already hidden in our heart so that we can keep our hearts from being ensnared.
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