Thursday, December 7, 2017

Temptation and Sin

Chuckle: "The trouble with resisting temptation is it may never come your way again.” --Unknown
Quote: "O help me Father in heaven to overcome and resist temptation in every form or shape.” --Emmeline B. Wells

". . . but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when full-grown, gives birth to death" (James 1:14-15 NIV).
Everyone is tempted.  It happens to all of us. "Temptation is common to man" (I Cor. 10:13). Temptation even came to Jesus. "For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one (Jesus) who has been tempted in every way, just as we are -- yet without sin" (Hebrews 4:15 NIV). New Christians may be surprised to feel a pull toward those old sins. But remember, it's not a sin to be tempted. The sin comes in the yielding to the temptation.
Who tempts us? God does not tempt us, but uses temptations to help us grow toward maturity."God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He tempt anyone" (vs.. 13). We tend to blame God for our weaknesses, but that blame is misplaced. It's not God's will for us to yield to temptation. When we yield, we are the ones who make the conscious decisions and no one is to blame but ourselves.
Some say: "I was just made that way - it's just my nature!" (liars, cheaters, thieves, adulterers, etc.). We justify our actions by blaming God for making us that way. "To err is human, but to blame God is more human." Then if we don't blame God, we can blame our parents - "it was the way they raised me." Parents often fail in their responsibilities, but yielding to temptation occurs within us and we make the decisions. Nobody can make you yield to temptation. Eve blamed the serpent and Adam blamed Eve, etc.
What are the results of yielding to temptation? "Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death" (vs.. 15). When we succumb to temptation, we begin to die to purity, purpose, life, joy, meaning.
How can you and I overcome temptation? We must deal with our desires. You don't have to give in -- its up to you. You are the final authority. You have a new nature in Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit lives within you. A little girl once said in response to a question about how to deal with temptation: "When Satan comes knocking at the door of my heart, I send Jesus to the door. When Satan sees Jesus, he says, 'Oops, I'm sorry. I must have the wrong house.'" "Greater is He that lives in us than the one who lives in the world." I John 4:4.
Here are some practical suggestions for dealing with temptations. (1) Recognize your desires as real and normal. (2) Keep your focus on Christ, the giver of every good and perfect gift. A trained dog will "sit" in front of a steak keeping his eyes on his master, and will eat the steak only after the master signals it's OK. (3) Discover and understand the areas where you are the weakest and most vulnerability and stay away from temptations in those areas. If you don't want to be stung, stay away from hornet's nests. (4) Learn to say "no" in the power of the Holy Spirit. "Walk (live) by the power of the spirit and say no to the desires of the flesh" (Galatians 5:16). (5) Acknowledge past failures, ask God for forgiveness, and begin focusing on Him.
Use the fellowship of Christians in your church to help you -- a friend in Sunday School -- an accountability group. "No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it." (I Corinthians 10:13 NIV).
Love, Jerry & Dotse


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