My son, Dale, tells me that the mongoose builds up immunity to cobra venom by eating smaller poisonous creatures, from spiders to scorpions to wasps. That makes the mongoose an “ophiophagous” creature. Ophiophagous animals are those which hunt, kill, and eat snakes (including the poisonous ones). Many of these kinds of animals are thought to be immune from their prey’s venom, and they have antineurotoxic antibodies in their blood. However, the most venom-resistant animal known to science is the wild and exotic Virginia opossum. They do not build up immunity, but rather seem to be born with this resistance.
As a Grade A Snake Hater, my skin is already crawling. However, what a splendid application there is. In Genesis three, we are introduced to a creature many take to be nothing more than a serpent. While this may be true, Satan is referred to in symbolic terms as “that ancient serpent” in Revelation 20:2—a seeming allusion to the garden scene (cf. Rev. 12:9). Is it coincidental that the beguiling serpent is mentioned in the same context as Satan’s beguiling work in 2 Corinthians 11 (cf. 3 + 14-15)? Whatever may be concluded about any connection between the serpent of Eden and the devil, there are some potent comparisons. Like a poisonous serpent, Satan is destructive and deadly (cf. 1 Pet. 5:8-9). As such creatures can strike suddenly and without warning, Satan can do the same (cf. Matt. 4:3). Just as these can cause fear, so can the devil (Heb. 2:14). The devil can be made to flee (Jas. 4:7), just as those nefarious reptiles can.
Keeping with our analogy and original illustration, can we build up immunity against the devil? Yes and no. We cannot, in the sense that we can ever court sin and temptation and hope to come away unscathed. The wages of sin are always the same (Rom. 6:23). However, in another sense we can. By drawing close to God, we can build up devil-resistance (Jas. 4:7). Building a proper relationship with the Lord serves the dual purpose of helping us stand against the power of the devil (see Eph. 6:10ff). By being and remaining in Christ, we are free from the effects of the sting of sin and the spiritual death brought thereby (1 Cor. 15:56-58; Heb. 2:14-15; 1 Pet. 5:8-9). Let’s work to protect our souls from the ravaging effects of sin by building righteous, submissive, and holy lives!