Wednesday, February 15, 2012

February 16, 2012

"And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen." Matthew 6:13

I feel that I need to spend one more post discussing temptation so you can fully understand and appreciate the importance of invoking God's help against it.

As I meditate on this portion of Scripture it occurs to me that we can fall into a "victim mentality" in regard to temptation. It is human nature to neglect responsibility whenever and where ever we can. And when it comes to temptation - we do.

How many times have you heard someone say (including yourself), "I can't help it, I'm only human" to excuse surrendering to temptation?

What Jesus is telling us here is, "You can't help it BUT if you call on Me I can help you help it! You ARE responsible and YOU are accountable to God for how you respond to temptation."

Here's what Jesus' half-brother, James wrote in his epistle:

"Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.  Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone.  But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed.  then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death." James 1:12-15

It is time to "man up" in regard to temptation guys! Temptation is not something that happens TO you, temptation is something that happens IN you!

Let me illustrate with a couple of examples:

You could surround me with sushi and I could be coming off a 40 day fast and there would be ZERO temptation for me. You could dip them in chocolate and the needle might move slightly but still they would be no temptation to me. I have no interest in sushi - unless I need some bait.

Take away the sushi and replace it with cheeseburgers and the battle is on! I love cheeseburgers - how they look, how they smell, and how they taste - LOVE cheeseburgers! Cheeseburgers tempt me because there is a strong inner appetite for cheeseburgers!

Obviously, there is nothing inherently wrong with sushi or cheeseburgers when consumed in moderate and reasonable quantities. But the point is, I must exercise control  over my appetite for cheeseburgers and have to make no effort at all to resist sushi.

My human nature is biased against God and toward sin. It is easier for me to sin than it is to resist sinning. It is easy for me to be tempted by sinful pleasures than it is to deny them. But, God calls me to do just that if I am going to be a follower of Christ. I cannot practice sin and selfishness and call myself a Christian. I cannot allow myself to live as a slave to temptation and expect to please God. As Jesus said, I "cannot serve God and materialism".

I must choose to take responsibility for my sinful lust and appetites. I must deny those destructive tendencies and pursue God's holiness. I cannot do that without His help. So I must frequently pray, "Lead me not into temptation but deliver us from the evil one."

Own your lustful desires! Confront them and confess them and ask God to cleanse then and control them! Pray for God's help daily - hourly or moment-by moment if necessary!

God holds you responsible so take responsibility! God holds you accountable so why not find an accountability partner to help you do right?

You cannot serve a VICTORIOUS God and continue to live like a victim.........