I could feel it’s icy hand creeping up my shoulder, whispering to me that I could just give in. No one would know. What’s the harm? The tempter’s foul breath sliding across the back of my neck making the hairs stand on edge as I debate within myself whether or not to succumb to the enemy of my joy. My hands tremble as I enter into the war. I know the strength of this enemy. I know the feelings of dismay that would come in surrender to fleeting pleasures. And yet, the temptation remains as I struggle to engage my mind in the battle.
What is described above is a common occurrence. It is not unusual to wrestle with temptations in this way; sometimes with victory, sometimes with failure, always feeling alone. In my walk with Christ thus far, I’ve learned to recognize the signs of temptation before they come. They bear a consistent pattern: a private moment, a sinking feeling, a mindless inattentiveness to surroundings, and a silent commotion within my inner being. I know this enemy well. This former lover of mine, who seeks to own me, will stop only when I kill it or give in to it.
Maybe this makes since to you? Maybe you’re super-spiritual and it doesn’t affect you at all? Either way, maybe the following will help you when you’re tempted.
When faced with temptation, remember:
Consider the consequence of your sin, it’s not just your life.
When King David made his horrific decision to stay home instead of going to war, as kings were supposed to, he set in motion the downfall of the Kingdom of Israel. (2 Samuel 11:1) In the pages of 2 Samuel 11-12, David denies responsibility as king, abuses his authority, commits adultery, plots to deceive, murders, and then tries to hide his sin from the eye of the people. It is not until the Prophet Nathan rebukes him in 12:9 that David finally repents. If David had known the extent of the consequence of his sin, surely he would not have pursued the course he did. Had he known that his sin would destroy a family, result in the death of a child, begin the splitting of the kingdom of Israel and eventually result in exile for his nation, surely he would have held back his urges. David’s people deal with his sin for the next 600 plus years. Consider your steps and the far reaching effects of your secrets. Your children will war against what you have hidden.
Remember the Love of your King
The voice of the enemy almost always echoes in my ears: “no one cares,” and “it’s no big deal.” But that is not true. The Lord of all the universe actually loves you and is not far from you. As He has promised in Mt. 28:20, Dt. 31:6, 8, Heb. 13:5, and Joshua 1:9, He will never leave you. Further, we are admonished by Peter to “cast [our] cares upon Him, for he cares for you.” (1Pt. 5:7) The love of God is so deep and powerful that He consistently remains with you when you have turned your back on Him. He is a good God, who loves you deeply. Now, consider this… even in the midst of your darkest hour, He remains with you and loves you. Cling to His love and throw off the lie that you’re alone in this… you’re not.
Call upon the community to share the load
At my church we have a saying: “we all struggle, your struggles are just more visible than mine in this moment.” I find myself reminding people of that often. Too often. People don’t believe me when I say it, but it is true. We ALL are beggars in God’s economy of grace and not one of us deserves the grace that God gives (c.f. Romans 1-3… and the rest of the Bible.) Your sins are no greater than mine, and mine are no lesser than yours. When we grasp the truth that God is great and we are not, we can begin to lift each other up and walk with one another. It is a tragedy in the American church that we are incapable of working together to combat sin. Instead we decide to hide our sins from each other fearing that we will be made less in the eyes of our friends. The truth (at least in my church) is that people who will confess their sins openly are held in much higher esteem than those who do not. So, when facing temptation, call on your community for help. Be specific when necessary and be sure to pray with each other openly. The more accountability the better.
Too much of modern Christianity is defensive. Go on the offense when temptation comes. Eric Ludy has a great chapter in his book on masculinity God’s Gift to Woman. (please ignore the pretentious nature of the title.) He explains that when the adversary attacks, go on the offensive. Keep running lists of people’s prayer needs and pray for them each time you’re feeling tempted. Go talk to someone about Jesus every time you feel tempted. Sing worship music, make art, engage your soul in positive works for the Kingdom of God and the glory of His name! Get to work for the Kingdom and watch the adversary run from your great God! Remember what Jesus said to Peter in Mathew 16:18? “You shall be called Peter, for on this rock (the confession of Jesus as the Christ) I shall build my church and the gates of hell shall not overcome it!” Last time I checked gates are defensive… not offensive. So storm the gates! You are not on defense!
Now get to work!
At Sovereign Grace Fellowship we are striving to live this out. If these words resonate with you or you’re simply interested in learning more, come check it out.
You can find more about what we believe here: Sovereign Grace Fellowship Documents
You can hear recent messages here: Sovereign Grace Fellowship Podcast
You can view supplemental materials on our YouTube channel here: The Deep End
And you can check out more on our website here (under construction):sgfbrazoria.org
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