25 Jan 2016
Great fighters have destructive one-two punches—a right cross and a left hook. People who follow boxing know it’s the left hook that’s usually the knockout punch. Satan has a deadly left hook too. The reason many of us get discouraged and want to give up on ourselves and God is because we allow the devil to knock us out. Here’s what’s going down.
Often times as we walk through life, we’re scared and bewildered by the world. We’re lonely and vulnerable to the attention of predatory women and men or to the allure of drugs—or both! The hard truth is that many of us will fall into sin even though we try to avoid it. The devil tries to convince us that sin is okay. Once we fall to his right cross, he shows us his left hook. He whispers to us that we are worthless because of that sin . . . that God could never love us. . . that we should just keep on sinning. After all, we’ve already blown it, right? Wrong!
The apostle Peter denied Jesus three times. Judas Iscariot betrayed Christ with a kiss. How the two men handled their sin made all the difference. Peter wept and came back to Jesus for forgiveness, avoiding the knockout punch. Judas refused to see his sin, walked into the devil’s left hook, and hung himself. When we get hit by sin (and we all do), don’t fall into the devil’s trap and keep on sinning. Recognize that God forgives us for Jesus’ sake. God accepts us back into full relationship when we confess our sin (see 1 John 1:9). Sin is inevitable—getting knocked out by it is not!
18 Jan 2016
Adjusting our attitudes and seeking to follow Jesus to move on to a better lifestyle is something for which we all strive. But the reality is that the devil as well as our own sinful natures love sin and they make it hard to overcome what some call “besetting sins.” We know they are recurring because we see them showing up in our life all the time. Is there any hope for us when we find ourselves doing the same stupid stuff over and over and over? Yes!
We can take great comfort in the realization that Jesus understands what it’s like to be tempted. His Father didn’t spare Him that experience. Because Jesus went through the agony of temptation, He can be an understanding friend in our agony too. The story of Jesus’ temptation in Luke 4 tells us that Jesus had been fasting when Satan came to Him. Christ had had no food for forty days. Knowing that Jesus was very hungry, Satan tempted Him at His point of vulnerability. “‘If you are the Son of God, change this stone into a loaf of bread.’ But Jesus told him, ‘No!’ The Scriptures say, ‘People need more than bread for their life'” (Luke 4:3-4). On the surface the devil’s request seems reasonable. After all, Jesus could have changed the stones into bread. But Jesus saw beneath Satan’s challenge. He saw that the devil really wanted Him to obey him, to do his bidding. But Jesus refused the temptation to be conned by Satan. Jesus passed the test.
Remember that Jesus knows the score. He faced temptation, and He promises to help us face it too. We can trust that God knows our situation and is concerned about our welfare. That is the concrete slab under our lives. It’s the firm foundation on which all other defenses against temptation are built. Follow Jesus’ lead, and memorize a key Scripture passage… something that is meaningful to your individual situation and temptations. Repeat it out loud when tempted and watch the devil disappear.