Overcoming Temptation

What if I told you that all temptations fall into one of three categories. 1 Corinthians 10:13~No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation, he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. (ESV)

So, do you have a type? In life, we have many propensities. Our natural tendencies or leanings of the flesh and mind attempt to sway us in seemingly sundry directions, always away from God. Some wrestle with nature versus nurture, as our flesh has a way that seems right, but ultimately it will lead us to destruction. (Proverbs 14:10) That is why the New Testament reminds us that when we come to Jesus, kneeling at Calvary, confessing our sin, what we are truly doing, is dying to self.

Galatians 2:19-21~For I through the law died to the law that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain. (NKJ)

Thus life, in all of its living, is to be lived in Jesus Christ, who died for us. He died in our place. This means as we live in this world we will not face any temptation that does not come from the same three categories of sin, that Jesus was tempted by. (Luke 4:1-13) Luke records the three temptations Jesus faced, while John categorizes them in his first epistle. 1 John 2:16~For everything in the world-the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life–comes not from the Father but from the world. (NIV)

Let’s breakdown the three categories of sin? Sin Category #1—The Lust of the flesh: sexual sins, gossip, violence, drug usage, etc. Sin Category #2—The Lust of the Eye: coveting what isn’t ours (think material possessions, people, family) 2 Samuel 11 shares a fine example exposing David and that woman. This is looking at what does not benefit us, pornography, status, appearance for visual appeal. Sin Category #3—The Pride of Life: desiring God’s credit or glory, desiring positions, titles, or bragging rights, which puff us up, making us think more highly of ourselves than we ought. (Romans 12:3) Even desiring to be worshiped. I am great! Sure, you are really, I mean you are something, but still, we all need to know our place in God.

As you reflect today on what you may struggle with in your life, I want to encourage you to ask God for help. He already knows the tender areas of our lives and is ready and willing to help us, for the asking. John 14:13-14~Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it. (ESV) So, instead of doing the usual dance around, or putting our best foot forward, why not take the scripture at face value and ask God for a little help. 



Holy Living

As we approach our final chapter of Redeemed, a study of Pursuing God, I hope that you have felt challenged in your faith to pursue after God. Philippians 3:12~Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own because Christ Jesus has made me his own. (ESV) To apprehend the joy of His presence to floods and fill our lives. 

There’s nothing like the joy of being in the presence of the one we love. And this week many will attempt to rival that in some way, gathering around tables to give thanks. I hope that as you give thanks to the Lord you’ll be intentional in sharing gratitude, especially in a very difficult year. This week we turn attention to the Sacrament of Living. A sacrament is something done to impart grace, that is received fruitfully. When we come to the table we do so in remembrance of Jesus. This carved phrasing on many communion tables is taken from Paul’s imparted blessing in 1 Corinthians 11:24~when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me. (NIV)

What we are remembering at that moment and hopefully never getting over is that Jesus is the perfect sacrifice. The Millers remind us in song O what love, No greater love, Grace, how can it be,  That in my sin, Yes, even then, He shed His blood for me. The precious blood of Jesus is enough. It is enough to cover every sin, the blood is enough to cleanse all unrighteousness. The blood of Jesus is enough to heal all ailments, sickness, and disease. Not only does the blood cover and cleanse us, but it speaks a better word. Hebrews 12:24~to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel. (ESV) Jesus has given to us an impartation of grace.

In Christ alone is new life is given by the grace of God. That we would no longer live to self, but wholly unto God. Let’s unpack what’s happened to us in light of placing our faith in God. 2 Corinthians 5:17~This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! (NLT) In Christ, God has given us new life and we are to be fruitful in this new life, bringing glory to God. (John 15:8) New life comes by an impartation of divine grace from God, and it’s meant to propel us in the Sacrament of Living.

With that picture of remembrance, what God’s grace did for us in Jesus Christ now hanging on the wall of our mind today, I want you to ask the Lord to whom can I share what Jesus Christ has done? When He lays someone on your heart, then ask how you can connect with them in humble participation. Let God speak and guide you and watch as He does amazing things through your life.



Divided

Did you know that you have a holy inheritance? In Christ, we possess all things. Some would have you believe that coming to faith in Jesus isn’t freedom but to be saddled with rules when nothing could be further from the truth. What Jesus reminds us of in His first Beatitude is that being poor in spirit is really freeing us up to live this life for eternity. Because He then says to us in Matthew 5:3~…for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (NIV) We need to take this seriously. This is not mere Bible teaching, rather it is the path to greener walks with God, as we pursue Him.

Our New Testament principles for living can often find the best examples within the Old Testament. Abe and Isaac provide excellent commentary on the first beatitude: Isaac is born to an aged father. From Isaac’s first appearance, what love must have overcome Abe. In his arms, he held the promises of God. The covenant of a future filled with hopes and years. Even the long anticipation of messianic reconciliation. As Isaac grew so did Abe’s love, even to a perilous place, when God then steps in to save both father and son.

Genesis 22:2~Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, whom you love–Isaac–and go…Sacrifice him as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.” (NIV) The sacred writer spares the close-up of agony and anguish of that night in Beersheba when an aged father must have surly begged and pleaded to the point of being emptied. Imagine your own feelings, as one may not have wrestled any harder until, Gethsemane. (Luke 22:44) Such mortal pain upon a human soul in great conflict. After that bitter and blessed encounter, the pronouns of my and mine hold nothing of what they once held for Abe. Many call Abe rich, but his true wealth was inward and eternal.

Our humanity often hinders us from giving up our treasures to the Lord. We are often fearful of their safety, and hard-pressed to release them to the Lord in trust. We forget the scriptures say in 2 Timothy 1:12~I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that day what has been entrusted to me. (ESV) God wants each of us to give-up our defense and accept His generous gift of Jesus, that we might live our lives for the cause of Christ.

Today, don’t let fear own you! The Lord is the safest place one can store their treasures. Jesus said I did not come to destroy but to save, (Luke 9:56) everything we commit to him is safe. It’s the things we don’t commit to Him that are in jeopardy. Listen to Paul in 1 Corinthians 4:7~For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not? (NIV) Saint of God, God has given you everything and what He wants in return is all of you.

If we are to grow in our intimacy with God, then we must learn the way of renunciation. Only in rejecting our righteousness and pride can we begin to accept God’s amazing grace. Which will in turn set us on a lifelong pursuit of God. Sooner or later we will face this test and just as Abe’s test changed him, this test will change us. For our whole future will be conditioned by the choice we make when God levies the test on us. What will your choice be? Will you choose the self, or will you choose to live in a longing pursuit of God? The choice is yours.