25 Apr 2018
For most of us, if we had the history of our problematic behaviors printed out it would resemble “rap sheets” similar to criminals arrested many times. Many us would have long “rap sheets” that probably don’t begin to detail our entire sketchy history of activity. Our “rap sheets” most likely began with petty stuff. We stole a little beer from our parents, lifted a few bucks from Dad’s wallet, but soon found ourselves wanting and doing ever more dangerous and serious stuff. Temptation is an escalator…it moves us from minor to more difficult indiscretions. Take Rachel’s true story as an example.
Rachel was eleven when her parents split up. She was angry with her parents and angry with herself since she mistakenly blamed herself for her parents’ divorce.
The rage got worse when her mom’s new boyfriend started making sexual moves on her when she turned thirteen. It boiled over when her mother didn’t believe her when she told her about the advances. Rachel decided to run away.
Once on her own, Rachel needed food and began stealing it. Then someone offered her some weed, which took the pain away temporarily. Money was always a problem, so Rachel traded her body for food and drugs. That led to numerous arrests. After getting out, Rachel hooked up with a pimp who was also responsible for a large cook of meth. She started to use and then agreed to sell it. She was busted and sent away for eight years for distribution.
The devil is never satisfied with little temptations. His goal is to lead us up the escalator to “bigger and badder” sins. Remember: King David’s adultery with Bathsheba started with just a peek and ended up being first-degree murder.
We need to understand temptation. We need to know where it comes from, what it looks like, and how it works so that we can identify it, prepare for it, and deal with it. Temptation is ultimately a test. Will we do the right thing, or will we give in to the temptation?
When we realize that each temptation leads to greater sin, we need to stop and think. We must recognize the path that we’re on. Never be deceived into thinking temptation is a one-shot deal.
Jesus was tempted too. Jesus did not give in. He did not sin in the face of temptation. He won the battle. We serve a Savior who faced the same temptations we do every day. Jesus went into the wilderness for a showdown with Satan, the enemy of our souls—and Jesus won!
Let’s be on our guard. We can be confident of God’s strength to give us victory over temptation.
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.