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Posts Tagged ‘Temptation’

monkey-with-hand-trapped-in-bottle-grabbing-bannana-with-sign“we are tempted when we are dragged away by our own evil desire and enticed.  Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is brought to completion, it brings forth death.”   — James 1:14-15

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it to the full.”   — John 10:10

“…choose life…by loving the Lord your God, by obeying His voice, and by holding fast to Him…” — Deuteronomy 30:19b-20a

 

In Southern Mexico lies the Cueva de Villa Luz, or Cave of the Lighted House.  I’ve read that as you make your way to the cave you walk through a veritable paradise of tropical birds and lush rain forest. Underwater the cave is fed by 20 underground springs, beautiful watercourses which teem with tiny fish. The cave itself is home to spectacular rock formations and beautiful ponds. The environment is inviting. Yet accept the invitation and you’ll soon be dead. You see, the Cueva de Villa Luz is filled with poisonous gases.

Temptation is just like this. It presents itself to us as something inviting, attractive, lifegiving. Yet in reality it’s poisonous and toxic.

Now squarely in mid-life, I, like many others before me, am examining my life — in particular, what have I done, if anything, of lasting meaning — and what, if anything, can I do with the time remaining to me that will be of lasting meaning. In this lengthy (and still in-progress) exercise, I’ve had to admit the painful truth that, as Paul puts it in Ephesians 4, I’ve often given the devil a foothold, following the path that James outlines in his first chapter (and quoted above).

The result has been, indeed, death.  Death of dreams, death of opportunities, death of fulfilling my role fully as husband, father, and friend.  I reflect on moments in which my words and actions can only have negative impact they are modeled by others such as my children.  In the opportunities and ministries God has provided, I see responsibilities only partially fulfilled and effectiveness compromised.

All too often, I’m like the monkeys that are caught using candy or other sweets and a bottle. You see, old milk bottles are tied to the ground, and then something sweet is placed inside the bottle.  When a monkey comes along and sees the sweet he places his hand inside the bottle, but with the sweet enclosed in his palm his fist is too big to get back out the bottle. The  monkey will pull and push in an effort to get that sweet out, but he will not let it go, not even as his captors approach. And so the monkey is caught, literally with “his hand in the cookie jar”!

This represents perfectly the contradiction of temptation and integrity.  As Dr. Jim Denison notes, “temptation seems to benefit more than it costs at first, but its disastrous consequences always outweigh the reward. Integrity usually costs more than it benefits at first, but its positive consequences always outweigh the cost.”

Our enemy is always a “roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). He wants, as Jesus told us (also quoted above), only to steal from us, to destroy us. Thus, we can know that any offer of good from our desires which contradict God’s word to and design for us must lead to a greater harm.

Theologian Lyman Abbott noted that “every life is a march from innocence, through temptation, to virtue or vice.”  In my self-examination, I’m looking at where my march is headed.  It’s a question I urge you to consider as well.

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Have (or do) any of the following ever applied (apply) to you:

  • I am strongly tempted to sin
  • I give in to temptation and choose to sin
  • I feel overpowered by the pull of a particular sin in my life
  • I know what God wants me to do, but just don’t have the desire to do it.

I came across this question in my continued study in Nancy Leigh Demoss’ and Tim Grissom’s Seeking Him — Experiencing the Joy of Personal Revival. — And I was initially depressed by the fact that all of these statements have applied to me at one time or another (and still do sometimes).

But, thankfully, God has something to say on this.  I went on to read through Hebrews 4:14-16; Titus 2:11-12; 1 Corinthians 15:10; and 2 Corinthians 9:8.

As believers in Christ, as beloved ones of God, we have one who has been tempted as we have — who pleads our case before God.  AND we have God’s grace!  I urge you to read those above versus carefully — it is God’s grace which provides the power and the training.  God’s grace can be a dynamic force in our lives and result in our sanctification (becoming more and more like Christ — living triumphantly in accordance with our new nature).

Imagine — in all things at all times abounding in every good work — as a result of God’s grace (2 Cor 9:8).

Some of you may be struggling with temptation and sin or wondering, “if it’s all God — all His grace, then why don’t I have the desire to obey God — to walk with Him in relationship?”  You may be struggling with discouragement, despair, and wanting to give up.

In my own struggles, I’ve come to learn that we play a role!  It is God’s grace, but we must be plugged into that dynamic force.  Otherwise it’s like wielding a jackhammer with no power.  You get nowhere and eventually give up.

Read 2 Tim 2:1; James 4:6; 2 Peter 3:18.  All of these verses talk about standing in God’s grace, being strong in God’s grace and growing in God’s grace.  If we’re not plugged in — not active in our relationship with Him, not taking the steps necessary to be plugged in and maintain a relationship with God and His church, we will be disconnected from that source of power.

Remember, the Lord has promised He will be found by those who seek Him; He will never forsake those who seek Him; and He will be faithful to complete the work He has started in you!

So be plugged in, ready for use, wired — stand and growing in the grace of God — and God’s grace will not be without effect (1 Cor 15:10); He will work in you to both desire and do His good pleasure (Philippians 2:13).

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