Hosea 13.14 says, “I will ransom them from hell; I will redeem them from death: O death, I will be your plague; O hell, I will be your destruction.”
One of God’s favorite tricks is to give evil men all they want, only to have their evil desires prove to be their undoing.
God acts like a fisherman who binds a line to his fishing rod, attaches a sharp hook, fixes on it a worm, and casts it into the water. The fish comes, sees the worm but not the hook, and bites, thinking that he has taken a good morsel; but the hook is fixed firmly in his gills, and he is caught.
That’s exactly what God does in Christ. The Son becomes a man, and the Father sends him into the world where the devil finds him like a worm and swallows him whole. But it is like food he cannot digest. Christ sticks in his gills and Satan has to spit him out, and yet he can’t. The devil chokes on Jesus and is taken captive in his ruin.
God’s cleverness often goes unregarded, which is a shame, since it is the basis for so many great moments in modern fiction and film, just as it is in real life. It is God’s cleverness that stands in the wings of the climax to the Harry Potter series—wherein Voldemort’s killing spell backfires—and to the Matrix trilogy—where Agent Smith’s victory becomes, also, his defeat. It was unrestrained evil that led to Irina Spalko’s death in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, and unrestrained evil that led to Moriarty’s death in SherlockHolmes: Game of Shadows, and unrestrained evil that led to Gollum falling into Mount Doom in The Lord of the Rings.
God’s great trick is to give evil men over to their sinful desires (see Romans 1.24), to be destroyed by them.
What are we to learn from this?
For starters, we ought to recognize that God’s prohibitions against sinful behavior are not arbitrary. Sin destroys life. If you want to enjoy life and find fulfillment, meaning, and satisfaction, then be obedient to the God who gave you that life to enjoy in the first place.
We should also recognize that when people stand in our way and caution us against sinful behavior, they are God’s means of interrupting our self-destruction. Our real worries should begin when all opposition to our selfishness ceases. That’s the moment God has finally taken his hands off our lives and said, in effect, “be my guest, Moriarty.”