Yes, I invented “trick or treat”
So you could fill your mouth with sweets –
Candy bars and lemon drops,
Marshmallows and Tootsie Pops,
Butterscotch and bubble gum.
Hold out your hand – they’ll give you some
Chocolate kisses, Jujubes,
Sourballs and jelly beans.
Have a cake – some cookies too.
Take a couple – grab a few
Peppermint sticks and Mary Janes,
Licorice whips and candy canes.
Slurp some soda, munch a pie,
Don’t let those M&M’s go by,
Chew that toffee, munch those treats,
Get that caramel in your teeth.
Then come see me, I’ll be here –
I’m your friendly dentist, dear.
– The One Who Invented Trick or Treat by Shel Silverstien
Swindled. Hoodwinked. Bamboozled. Deceived.
I can’t help but wonder if the duped child in the poem would feel that his Halloween indulgence was worth it? As he leans back in the dental seat getting his rotten teeth pulled out, I wonder if maybe, just maybe…he might wish he wouldn’t have listened to that trickster! While a humorous poem, it also has a sobering truth attached to it – sometimes what seems like a treat is really a nasty trick!
The deceptive dentist in this story reminds me of the original deceiver – Satan himself. He sees our desire for a treat and he sneakily puts a well-disguised trick in front of us instead.
On October 31, children all over will be walking door to door asking this age old question: “trick or treat?!” Now it certainly doesn’t take a brain surgeon to know what each child yearns for – a treat. In fact, they might as well shorten the phrase TO “treat” as it would save the children valuable time and get them on their merry little way to the next person’s door! Granted, most of the people who answer their door to trick-or-treaters are civilized and want nothing more than to make some little one smile. Yet there is always a risk of those who would ruin innocent fun with ill-intent…
Every parent approaches trick or treating with caution, especially in an unfamiliar neighborhood. There are too many crazies out there to just trust anyone to have upright motives towards our children. Any person that opens their door could be a potential predator, and we must exercise great care to keep our kids from danger! If it isn’t enough to think that someone could possibly harm the child on their doorstep by brute force, another concern that we might have is the tainting of the candy itself!
There is an unsettling irony here. While an innocent child might ask a stranger, “trick or treat?”, the stranger might in fact give them a trick under the guise of a treat…a devilish scheme akin to that of the original trickster himself.
Just like children do on Halloween night, we adults go through life with an extended spiritual basket, asking, “trick or treat?”. Just like a child, I daresay that most of would rather be treated than tricked. Children must practice safety precautions in the physical sense on Halloween, but all of us need to be on the lookout for spiritual dangers every day. We have an enemy who is both ruthless and cunning, and we need to know what dangers to watch out for!
– What do you seek out of your “spiritual basket”?
– Are you looking for a trick, or a treat?
– Is it possible that you have been given a trick FOR a treat?
– How can you be sure?
There are three red flags to look for. Shall we discover them? Let’s each one of us take a few moments to empty out our baskets and sort out the good candy from the bad…
1. Throw Away Any “Treat” That Is Un-sealed…
There are articles galore warning parents to look out for Halloween candy that is given un-sealed! If candy is un-sealed, there’s a chance that the giver may have poisoned it, laced it with drugs, or at the least made it unsanitary in some fashion. The general consensus is: if it’s un-sealed, it goes straight to the garbage bin.
Take a look in your spiritual basket. Has someone tried to give YOU an un-sealed trick for a treat?
John 3 and 2 Corinthians 1 speak of being “sealed” by God. With that in mind, let us think of each one of us as a piece of candy. The picture is this: like a wrapper on a candy, Jesus is a covering for us. In return, we wear his brand. One must be sealed by God in order to be saved. We can not enter into heaven unless we have been covered by Jesus’ blood, and we can not enter into heaven wearing any other brand but that of Christ.
There will be those who will try to deceive and tell you that it is just fine and dandy to be un-sealed. These individuals believe, and will do everything in their power to convince YOU that God is nothing more than an imaginary friend for weak-minded children. They claim that you don’t need a God to have a fulfilling life, but that you should “live the life you please”. This is no new “enlightenment”, but a folly as old as the hills…
…evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived. – 2 Timothy 3:13
The unbeliever is deceived. Would you be like unto him? I can think of no unhappier life than that of a non-christian. Sure, they might appear to be having a good time on the surface…but where is their true joy? At the end of the day, life that has been lived with no higher purpose than that of the animal kingdom (eat, drink, and be merry) is meaningless and void of all merit.
I believe that the true reason that many do not admit to a higher power is the personal responsibility that it requires. If there is a God (I speak from the unbeliever’s perspective, not my own) then it would mean that one would have to subdue himself to that higher power! Let’s be honest…it is so much easier to shut our eyes and ears to the truth than it is to change our ways.
Pure truth, like pure gold, has been found unfit for circulation, because men have discovered that it is far more convenient to adulterate the truth than to refine themselves. – Charles Caleb Colton
The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. – Psalm 14:1a
If your basket contains an un-sealed treat, throw it out!
Mankind – as well as Halloween candy – must be sealed.
He that hath received his testimony hath set to his SEAL that God is true. – John 3:33
Now he which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God; Who hath also SEALED us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts. – 2 Corinthians 1:21-22
If being un-sealed means to be without Christ, then here are some tips to safeguard against un-sealed “treats”…
1. Surround yourself with those of strong faith, and limit time with those who whisper doubts into your mind.
Be not deceived: evil communication corrupts good manners. – 1 Corinthians 15:33
2. Pray earnestly that God would help you to overcome your doubts.
…Lord, I believe: help thou mine unbelief. – Mark 9:24b
3. Read the personal accounts of those who have turned from unbelief/atheism to christianity (whether biblical accounts or more recent).
For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another. – Titus 3:3
4. Use your God-given talents to serve the Lord rather than being a passive observer in the assembly.
And we desire that every one of you do shew the same diligence to the full assurance of hope unto the end: That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promise. – Hebrews 6:11-12
5. Open your eyes to the intelligent design all around you, and allow yourself to be captivated with God’s creation once again.
Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse.
– Romans 1:19-20
2. Throw Away Any “Treat” That Is Self-Sealed…
The same articles that encourage parents to throw away un-sealed candy, warn us to be careful giving our children any self-sealed candy. There are some houses that give away homemade treats. Now some of these instances might be harmless enough, but it’s worth considering that a homemade treat has a higher possibility of having been tainted…any step of the candy-making process might have lent a predator opportunity for contamination.
Take a look in your spiritual basket. Has someone tried to give you a self-sealed trick for a treat?
Similar to the un-believer or atheist, those people in the world who are self-sealed do not wear Christ’s brand. However, atheism is an uncomfortable extreme for some, so there are those middle-grounders who would like to consider themselves “spiritual”, while dismissing the validity of the bible. These individuals may not proclaim “anything goes” as loudly as the atheist, but live by what they often refer to as their “moral code”. In other words, they have some morals…but self chosen ones, and often very loose ones at that.
There is a grave danger in living the self-sealed lifestyle. A moral code chosen by one’s own self is subjective, easily modified, and often hypocritical. For example, if one is not tempted towards stealing, they might easily take a firm stance against it. Yet that same person might have a sinful bend towards lying and see no harm in it. Of course these are both sins, but with no God to define them as such, who gets to call the shots on what is and isn’t right to do?
Man has always sacrificed truth to his vanity, comfort and advantage. He lives not by truth but by make-believe – W. Somerset Maugham
If we say that we have no sin, we DECEIVE ourselves, and the truth is not in us. – 1 John 1:8
Be not DECEIVED: God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. – Galatians 6:7
Spirituality isn’t Build-A-Bear-Workshop. There is a divine blueprint that tells us how to live – God’s word. If you want to be a ballerina, you go to ballet class. If you want to learn how to build bridges, you consult with an engineer. If you want to be spiritual, you go to the living, breathing, spirit of God which speaks to us through the Holy Bible.
Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man receiveth not the things of the spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. – 1 Corinthians 2:12-14
If your basket contains a self-sealed treat, throw it out!
Mankind must be Spirit-sealed.
If being self-sealed means to have a religion of one’s own making, then here are some tips to safeguard against self-sealed “treats”…
1. Focus much more daily time and thought on spiritual things than on secular.
For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. – Romans 8:5
2. Continually remind yourself that you are God’s handmaiden, and remember that you were created FOR Him.
…all things were created by him, and for him. And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. – Colossians 1:16b-17
3. Compare the consequences of a self-led life as opposed to one that is flourishing in Christ.
For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. – Romans 8:2
4. Avoid conversations with foolish people who try to tell you that YOU are the master of your own destiny, YOU should follow your heart, YOU deserve to make your own way…
He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool: but whoso walketh wisely, he shall be delivered. – Proverbs 28:26
5. Identify the areas in which you are self-willed. Replace those habits with new ones!
Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not DECEIVED: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. – 1 Corinthians 6:9-10
3. Throw Away Any “Treat” That Is Re-Sealed…
We have thrown away the un-sealed candies, and the self-sealed candies. Now we come to the most hazardous and least noticeable danger of all: the re-sealed candies. There are those predators who would be so bold as to remove a perfectly safe piece of candy from it’s original wrapping, replace it with a harmful look-alike, and re-seal the candy to look as good as new.
Take a look in your spiritual basket. A good, long, hard look…because this time you’ll have to inspect much closer than you had to before. Has someone tried to give you a re-sealed trick for a treat?
There are those who claim Christ, but are not true to his brand. They might go to church, pray, and live a seemingly admirable lifestyle, but still have not fully submitted themselves to God’s plan. These might be fellow church-members, deacons, elders, ministers, friends, relatives….it might even be you. It’s extremely difficult to tell a re-sealed candy from an original without a thorough inspection.
Satan is crafty, and one of his favorite techniques in deception goes by the “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” philosophy. He has infiltrated churches everywhere and deceived the minds of many would-be followers of Christ.
One way many have been deceived is in the area of salvation. It might sound hard to believe, but think about it – what could delight Satan more than in tricking people to believe they are saved when they really aren’t? It’s the ultimate scheme!
Life is the art of being well deceived; and in order that the deception may succeed it must be habitual and uninterrupted – William Hazlitt
For sin, taking occasion BY THE COMMANDMENT, DECEIVED me, and by it slew me. – Romans 7:11
There are many denominations all over the world who are being led astray by false teachers. The way I see it, there are two different kinds of false teachers – the malicious ones, and the ignorant ones. Some are leading the congregation in a wrong direction for personal gain, tickling their ears and giving watered down sermons that bring in the multitudes. On the other hand, their are some well-meaning leaders who have unknowingly misled others, perhaps because they have not studied deep enough to find out the real truth of what they are teaching. Whether maliciously or unknowingly, false teachers are a stumbling block to many.
O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you? – Galatians 3:1
HOWEVER – each member is responsible for his or her own salvation. One can not neglect their own personal bible study and blame their lack of knowledge upon someone else. It is our duty to search the scriptures and apply our hearts to wisdom.
That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to DECEIVE. – Ephesians 4:14
If your basket contains a re-sealed “treat”, throw it out!
Mankind must be reason-sealed.
If being re-sealed means to have a false sense of Christianity, then here are some tips to safeguard against re-sealed “treats”…
1. Examine yourself to see if you have truly been saved according to God’s plan of salvation. If you are – GREAT – no harm done in checking, right? If you are not, then why wait another second longer? Today is the day to be saved!
Questions to ask yourself:
Do I believe wholeheartedly in the God of the bible? (Hebrews 11:6)
Have I confessed with my mouth, and do I continue to confess with my attitude that Jesus is the Son of God? (1 John 4:15)
Have I repented of my sins and do I live each day trying my hardest to abstain from them? (Acts 3:19)
Have I been baptized (immersed in water as a believing adult) for the purpose of removing my sins, as God has designated as the symbol for the death, burial, and ressurrection of my old carnal nature? (Acts 22:16)
2. Study your bible daily. Don’t just read it – pore over it. Seek God’s will in every area of your life (body, soul, spirit).
Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. – 2 Timothy 2:15
3. Weigh what the bible says against that which others say – even your preacher. Never merely take someone’s word on a matter without first comparing it to God’s Word.
These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so. – Acts 17:11
4. If the church you assemble with teaches error, (and refuses to be moved by the word of God even after admonishment), locate a faithful assembly to link yourself with. One that teaches the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches DECEIVE the hearts of the simple. – Romans 16:17-18
5. Stay true to God’s truth that has been revealed to you. No matter what is popular, no matter if those you love won’t follow suit, no matter if it gets hard some days. Be faithful unto death!
Now therefore fear the Lord, and serve him in sincerity and in truth: and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt; and serve ye the Lord. – Joshua 24:14
Be watchful always. Once we have cleaned out our baskets, there is always the chance that “The One Who Invented Trick Or Treat” will try to sneak more and more of his “treats” back in.
-Only this time, we will know what to look for, won’t we?
I give you bitter pills in sugar coating. The pills are harmless; the poison is in the sugar – Jacek Galazka
For God’s Glory,
Chelsea Bolks is a church of Christ minister’s wife, and the home educating mother of two children. She and her family currently reside in Northwest Iowa.