Thursday, September 30, 2021

The Spiritual Value Of Temptation

No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.” – 1 Corinthians 10:13

Right after my rebirth, I recall the man that I will call my spiritual dad saying to me, “Your struggle has only just begun.” He was referring to the fact that the day before I surrendered my life by faith I there was no conflict between right and wrong – I only had one nature -  a sinful nature. But, the day that I was born again I had a second, spiritual nature, that would be at odds with my old nature for the rest of the time I lived on this earth. The struggle is not merely one of self will or moral discipline, but is spiritual.

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.” – Ephesians 6:12-13

Before there was nothing contending for my soul – the devotion of my heart. After my rebirth – the old refused to give up its hold on me. The temptation to choose my sinful nature over obedience to God’s declared truth is always there.  Some days the beat of its drum is almost deafening – other days it is but a faint noise in the distance – but it is ever present, and I must always be on my guard.

For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice. Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good. For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man. But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!” – Romans 7:18-25

Paul described his struggle with sin – wouldn’t you think that meeting Jesus on the road – called to such a great mission – taking the Gospel to the Gentile world would mean that he would no longer struggle with worldly temptation? None of us are exempt from temptation.  None of us.  And if any of us should forget that – we will fall into the snare – again – just like Paul.  Paul was telling us that the solution is spiritual through faith in Jesus – he tried to do right yet the temptation to do the wrong thing was stronger than Paul – stronger then you – stronger than me.  It is spiritual. Do you remember when Jesus was tempted in the desert?

Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterward He was hungry. Now when the tempter came to Him, he said, (1)‘If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.’ But He answered and said, ‘It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’’ Then the devil took Him up into the holy city, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, (2) ‘If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down. For it is written: ‘He shall give His angels charge over you,’ and, ‘In their hands they shall bear you up, Lest you dash your foot against a stone.’’ Jesus said to him, ‘It is written again, ‘You shall not tempt the Lord your God.’’ Again, the devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to Him, (3)‘All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me.’ Then Jesus said to him, ‘Away with you, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.’’  Then the devil left Him, and behold, angels came and ministered to Him.” – Matthew 4:1-11

In each case Jesus’ human nature was tempted – God cannot be tempted (James 1:13) – there is no sinful nature to be tempted. It is our flesh that is tempted in three ways – lust of the eyes, lust of the flesh and the pride of life. (1 John 2:16) If you notice those are the three ways Jesus – the man – was tempted in the desert. Notice also how Jesus responded – not with His self will or determination but with the sword of the Spirit – the Word of God. Unfortunately, many Christians venture out each day spiritually unarmed. We don’t see resistance to temptation as a spiritual issue – but merely the need to try harder not to do whatever we are being tempted to do.

I am not aware of any Christian who has lived a sinless life after their conversion. Any Christian who has gotten a pass on being tempted.  If there is one thing that comes from my struggle and perhaps yours is that my daily struggle is a reminder that I need a savior – that I cannot be right before God standing on my own merit and by my own effort. That it is ….

“…. by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them..” – Ephesians 2:8-10

We are His workmanship – our new life is by faith and the power of God.

Think about it – Pray about it – Believe it – Walk in it. Let your light shine and give God the glory.

By Faith Alone By His Grace Alone And For His Glory Alone

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