I heard a sermon a few weeks back about temptation and wanted to sift through it. It kind of reminded me of a cartoon where we are often faced with a red-horned devil sitting on one shoulder, shouting at us. And then a peaceful angel sitting on the other side gently encouraging us to do what is right. Isn’t that it? We have a waging war inside of us where the flesh is constantly being fed from the world and Satan. Then we have our spirit who needs to be fed, but is only fed when we connect to the vine and receive its nourishment to fight against the flesh. It’s kind of like our immune system. The Holy Spirit is our immune system inside of us. It’s there, ready to work for us and combat any viruses or diseases that we come in contact with. But, if we don’t build our immune system up (gird up) with healthy choices (eating right, sleeping well, exercising, etc.) it becomes taxed and compromised. The flesh will eventually win and illness and disease sets in.
If someone were holding a mirror to me I would say my biggest temptations are food, clothes, my mouth, busyness and my ability to judge others without really knowing their circumstances, where God has them or how He is working in their lives.
Satan and temptation are part of life.
Do you feel that tug-o-war? We experience a spiritual high and feel like God has taken us to a new level of intimacy—new levels bring new devils. Satan loves to come in right behind a blessing and uproot it. It’s not an illusion. Times of revelation are always followed by times of testing. Satan is just as real as God and vies for our attention and following. His main goal is to kill, steal and destroy as he prowls around like a roaring lion seeking to devour. (1 Peter 5:8) Satan feeds our flesh with lies; he is the father of lies.
Satan’s M.O. is to separate us from the Word of God. Think about it, it started in the Garden of Eden where he showed up saying, “Did God really say that? Are you sure he has your best interests at heart?” Not only does Satan want to separate you from God’s Word, but he wants to distract us with our idols. We all have them. I am guilty of focusing on God and His Word without taking the time to learn about what keeps me from Him and His Word. It’s threefold—it’s my flesh, my idols and Satan whose primary strategy is to take a good thing (kids, marriage, friendships, desire to be married, good health, comfort, job, hobby, sport, etc.) and make it more important than God. That is what an idol is. That idol or desire becomes the focus of our attention, dominates our emotions and dictates our behavior.
This last temptation is something that seems to be branded into my soul. We often interpret God through our circumstances rather than His Word. When life is good, I must be pleasing the Lord. When life or circumstances go south, I must have ticked God off or stepped out of His will and is punishing me or angry. Does God punish us? No, NEVER! He does not “punish” us for sin or making things an idol even. Punish means to inflict pain as a penalty from an offense. Our punishment was paid once and for all. “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1) God only sees the righteousness of Christ when He looks at us. However, sin that remains in our life does require God’s discipline at times. Just as children are disciplined for their own good, our heavenly Father does the same. (Hebrews 12:7-13) Discipline is how God lovingly turns his children from rebellion to obedience and opens our eyes to see His perspective. And often there are natural consequences; if we constantly speed we will eventually get pulled over for a speeding ticket.
Sin and idols are a constant in our life. If you think you are without, you are merely listening to Satan’s lies. Sin and Satan are not something I love to think about or write about. I’d rather write about God and His goodness for sure. It’s because of God and His goodness that He will not leave us as we are—we are constantly being sanctified.
Ask God to reveal to you the idols and sin in your life. He will. He will speak through the Holy Spirit that lives inside of you. He will start making you keenly aware of when your flesh is in control. The best medicine for your “immune system” is to take care of it. Feed your soul well by making a rich quiet time a priority. Take fellowship with other believers for mutual encouragement. Identify your idols and ask God to help you conquer them or put them in proper perspective. Remember, an idol becomes an idol when it holds more power than Christ. For me, crafting, shopping, busyness, judging and my impatient mouth can all be controlled by the Spirit if I let them. I can take time to craft and enjoy it. I can be busy without it controlling and dictating my day. I can shop for stylish clothes as long as I stay within my budget and do not purchase excessively. I can eat yummy food if I practice healthy choices and portion control. I can judge others if I first look at myself and my own inequities and judge out of a loving, compassionate heart, not a condemning, self-righteous heart.
Have a fantastic weekend!