|Posted on August 28, 2017 at 4:40 AM|
Main Passage: James 1:12-18
Secondary Passage: Matthew 4:1-11
Focus Verse: Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. James 4:7NIV
When I was a little girl, a friend and I pretended to camp out in the back part of her yard by a field. It was a nippy fall day which sent shivers across our little bodies. Instead of going inside like I suggested, my friend wanted to continue our outdoor fun. She said, "Hey, let's build a camp fire. We can get warm with it." An alarm bell went off in my child's mind. Mommy and Daddy always told me to leave matches alone. "No, I'm not allowed to play with matches," I stated with a frown on my face.
"It's okay. I'm allowed. Besides, we aren't playing because we really are cold," she retorted with an aire of confidence. So she ran into the house, grabbed a book of matches, then quickly returned to our "camp". Deftly, she lit the match while I pulled a bunch of dead brush togeher for her to light. Instantly, we had heat! What we didn't bargain for was for the fire to rage out of control, catching the neighboring field on fire. An alarmed parent came rushing out of her house with buckets of water to douse the flames. Another adult from nearby came to help. Soon the camp fire was a soggy mess. My mom arrived on the scene in the middle of the flurry of activity. She made me apologize, dragged me home, then proceded to give me a good old-fashioned spanking. I wasn't allowed to play at my friend's house again unless Mommy was with me.
What's the Deal?
Just like I caved into the temptation to start a fire like I was told not to do by my parents, many adult Christians find themselves facing temptations, ignoring God's warnings. Rationalization makes the temptation, "No big deal." So, they get sucked into an all cosuming mess they can't get out of on their own. When Christians are frustrated about their weight or health, the temptation to take shortcuts appears out of the blue, as if "someone" is listening standing at the ready with the perfect solution. Others begin their journeys to total health with the best of intentions, but the slithering serpent in the gym whispers in their ears about ,"how you great you look," then feel compelled to continue crazy weight loss plans and extreme workout regimens impossible to continue for the long haul. "We are all gods because there is the spark of the divine in us," the basis of Namaste' sounds like the Holy Spirit that resides in us, a lie from the pits of hell." No, we aren't practicing a a religion in yoga class," a confident yoga or martial arts instructor states when questioned about zazen bowing to system founders ' pictures or postures meant to connect us with the Great Tao, a supposed universal energy force. Just like the raging fire my friend and I started with forbidden matches, Satan's lies are the fuel to a raging self-centered fire that lures us down the wrong road. It's not long before we get burned by caving into temptation we knew would be a problem in the first place.
According to James, the half-brother of Jesus, in James 1:12-18, believers will face trials and temptations. His practical tone of voice speaks to New Testament Christians probably converted from Judaism, who have found themselves struggling with difficulties resulting from becoming Christians. It would be easy to blame God for temptations, but they are assured that God tempts no one, rather are lured away by one's own desires. This horrible spiral downward into evil ends in death. He uses the imagery of conception to birth through full-growth as if the person lured embraces evil as a way of life which changes the person's character so much it leads to spiritual death. God, the Father of Lights, has only good things for us. He created us as to be the pinacle of His creation. God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. We can count on that fact.
In Matthew 4:1-11, Jesus is led into the wilderness (desert) to be tempted by Satan. This time was preparation for His three year ministry as well as His sacrificial death on the cross for our sins. According to Revelation 5, He is the only one worthy to receive the scroll from God the Father. He is worthy "to receive power and riches and wisdom, and strength and honor and glory and blessing!" (Revelation 5:12) All of the people who ever lived and those in heaven said, "Blessing and honor and glory and power be to Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, forever and ever!" (Revelation 5:13). If He would not be a worthy Savior to atone (pay the ransom price) for our sins, bridging the gap between us and God.
Each temptation is worth our consideration. First, Satan uses the temptation to satisfy physical desires. Each time Satan skews Truth to make it sound plausible. Jesus corrects him each time and resists the temptation. The first begins with this lie: You can take care of your own needs and desires. Truth: Everything we need is supplied by God. God sustains us.
The second temptation is to seek approval and acclaim from others. Lie: You can do what you want because God will protect you from harm. Truth: When we seek approval of others, there are serious hazards God will not protect us from because He does not jump to our bidding. Don't put God to a test.
The temptation to become all powerful, like God, is the deadliest, as demonstrated in Genesis 3 when Adam and Eve fell for Satan's lie that they could be like God. Lie: You can be like God with all the power and authority He has. Truth: We are finite beings created in the image of God, but not gods. The creature is not on the same level as our Creator.
We all face temptations every day. Because we either don't beleive that Satan exists or think he looks really bad, we don't recognize his lies very well. In fact, he actually looks quite beautiful, like an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14). Satan will make every bad thing look good to lure us away from God. He wants to hurt and destroy us. Christians have two things at our disposal to stop temptation in it's tracks: the Holy Spirit's guidance and wisdom, and the Bible, God's Truth to us. It is important to recognize temtation for what it really is. God would never tempt us, but He does test us to purify us (1 Peter 1:7). God has every good thing for us. We can count on this truth because He never changes.
Those temptation we come across will hit every weak areas we have: self-reliance, acclaim, and absolute authority. That deadly trio will result in spiritual, and sometimes, physical death. We can combat temptation by knowing and quoting God's Word. We must resist the devil and then he will finally leave us alone. But do remember, just as he left Jesus for a more opportune time (Luke 4:13), he will be back to bother us again. We are not alone because we have the Holy Spirit to lead, guide, and direct us away from those temptations and toward God.
We can stop temptation in it's tracks. If I had simply stated what Mom and Dad said, then went home, I wouldn't have become party to burning part of my neighbor's field. Resisting temptation begins with knowing the Truth of a situation. The second part is to walk, or run, from it like Joseph did with Pharaoh's wife in Genesis 39. Whether you want to look good, get fit, or destress, the temptations Jesus endured will come your way. It will even come in the form of being "a god because we have the spark of the divine in us". Of course, there are many other temptations besides looking perfect, eating the whole box of cookies, or chanting mantras in Yoga class. If you know what God's Word (the Bible) says, you will get a discomfort in your spirit that says, "This isn't right." The Holy Spirit will remind you of what you already know and give you the ability to walk, or run, away from it. If you aren't sure why something doesn't seem right, then check it out from a safe distance. For example, look up meditation from yoga and compare it to what the Bible describes as meditation. They are totally different, aren't they? I plan to give a free lesson on how to discern if something is safe or not in the upcoming months, so watch for it's announcement. You can resist temptation. Stop it in it's tracks!
What temptations do Christians often struggle with? What about when it comes to health, fitness, weight loss, or wellness? Do you have an example of when you or someone you know successfully resisted a temptation?
Do you need prayer to resist temptations you face? Feel free, to email me at [email protected] or comment below. May God bless you!