Late last week many news agencies reported the story of an Alabama man, Billy Forbus, who had an unsuccessful battle with a headless rattlesnake. Actually, Billy killed the snake. He blew its head off with a shotgun when the rattler invaded his garden.
But a second battle took place an hour later. Billy threw the snake’s lifeless body into the back of his pickup and drove off to his brother-in-law’s house to show it off. However, when Billy reached back to remove the rattlesnake from his truck, he was shocked to find it moving! That’s right. Its head was gone, but it was writhing away in the bed of his pickup.
With his wife, Kerry video-recording the event, Billy used a grabbing tool to try and pick up the snake. The snake, however, refused to cooperate. Then, using his “grabber,” Billy took it by the tail. The snake easily wiggled loose. Billy tried again. Then the snake started to “strike.” At one point the rattlesnake—with no head, mouth, or fangs to harm anyone—lunged at Billy. That’s when Billy dropped the grabber out of fear and retreated from the battle—content to wait until the dead snake finally settled down.
What in the world was going on here? A headless snake still moving around and striking at people? Well, according to Adam Cooner, a veterinarian at the Alabama Medical Center in Anniston, “snakes have spinal reflex arcs that they rely on more than brain simulation.” He went on to say, “Throughout the spinal cord, there are sites which control movement, so the spinal cord can function, to a degree, autonomously from the brain.” In other words, a rattlesnake can have its head blown off and yet still squirm around and try to “strike.”
The Old Serpent
Can you see the spiritual parallel here? The Bible repeatedly describes the devil as a snake—“the old serpent” (Gen. 3:1–15 ; Luke 10:19; 2 Cor. 11:3; Rev. 12:9–15; 20:2). He is so described because of his “craftiness,” his ability to strike unawares. The serpent attacks his prey in such a way that they will feel his bite before they ever realize he’s there.
The old serpent, Satan, attacks us unawares with all kinds of venom—to get us to sin against God. He uses deception, confusion, disappointment, discouragement, and despair. With these poisons he can pry open our armor and tempt us to do evil. Adam easily fell before the devil’s wiles. And none of his children has ever done any better against the old serpent. We’ve all sinned and fallen short of God’s glorious standard (Rom. 3:8–23).
This is why Satan is pictured in the gospels as a strongman who closely guards his captives—us (Matt. 12:25–29; Luke 11:17–22). The devil enslaves the whole world, holding it captive to do his bidding (1 John 5:19). Therefore, New Testament writers refer to him as the “prince of this world” (John 12:31) and the “god of this world” (2 Cor. 4:4). Though he has no chance of attacking God directly, he can hurt God by attacking the object of His love—humanity. And though he himself is doomed to damnation (Matt. 25:41; Rev. 20:10), he intends to bring as many people with him as possible.
The good news of the gospel, however, is that Jesus Christ has overcome and defeated the devil. This message was first foretold by God Himself after Adam sinned. He told the devil that the woman’s seed (Jesus) would crush his head, though he would bruise the Messiah’s heel in the process (Gen. 3:15). In other words, by dying on the cross, Jesus crushed the head—decapitated him if you will—of the devil and dealt him a blow from which he cannot recover.
This was further predicted symbolically when God told Moses to attach a bronze serpent to a pole and raise it up so that all who see it might live (Num. 21:4–9). 1500 years later, Jesus declared, “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so the Son of Man must be lifted up (on a cross), so that everyone who believes in Him may have eternal life” (John 3:14–15).
And when we sinners embrace the risen Lord Jesus Christ by faith, His victory over the devil becomes our victory. In response to our faith God delivers us from the domain of darkness and transfers us into the kingdom of His beloved Son (Col. 1:13). It does not take a “super saint” to overcome the world and the devil. It only takes the simple faith of one who believes in Jesus (1 John 5:3–5).
Overcoming Through Faith
We can now overcome the devil through faith, first by trusting Christ’s blood to cleanse us and thereby nullifying all of Satan’s accusations (Rev. 12:10–11). We also overcome the devil through faith, being delivered from the coming wrath (John 3:18; 5:24; Rom. 8:1; 1 Thess. 1:10; 5:9). Hell is that place of wrath from which believers are delivered and for which Satan is destined.
Third, we overcome the devil through faith because God sends His Holy Spirit into our hearts (Gal. 3:2–3). The Holy Spirit transforms our inner person and empowers us to rise above sin and resist the temptations of the devil. This is the only way that James can tell us to “resist the devil and he will flee” (James 4:7). It’s the only way Paul could say, “But the God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet” (Rom. 16:20). Jesus stated, “Behold, I have given you power to trample upon snakes and scorpions (Satan and his demons) and to overcome all the power of the enemy, and nothing will by any means harm you” (Luke 10:19; Ps. 91:13). When we face the enemy of our souls we are commanded to be strong with the Lord’s strength and power (Eph. 6:10–12).
Only by the Holy Spirit’s transforming and enabling power can we overcome the devil.
So don’t be like Billy Forbus and his headless rattlesnake—running away from those phony “strikes.” Billy was in absolutely no danger. He could have grabbed that snake with his bare hands and been perfectly safe.
And you also are facing a “head-crushed” enemy. Satan will bluff and threaten and try to deceive. So arm yourself with the sword of the Spirit—the word of God—and rely on God’s Spirit to empower you (Eph. 6:10–18). Resist the devil and you will put him to flight.
Dear Father in heaven, when Satan roars in my face and tries to frighten me into disobeying you, please help me to hear Your voice. Fill me with Your Holy Spirit and arm me with Your sacred word. By faith in Jesus, crush the devil under my feet, I pray. Amen.
Information from: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5871713/Heart-stopping-moment-headless-rattlesnake-Alabama-appears-lung-man-trying-pick-up.html
In article photo: 090807-M-4273B-001 by the U.S. Marines licensed by U.S. Govt. Work