Sunday, May 6, 2018

Unlearn that Sin

If you think you are standing strong, be careful, for you, too, may fall into the same sin. But remember that the temptations that come into your life are not different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will keep the temptation from becoming so strong that you can’t stand up against it. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you will not give in to it. (I Cor. 10:12-13)

I think we could all agree that no one is immune to temptation or 'above it' because it is a tool Satan uses to trip us in our walk with the Lord - he delights in nothing more than seeing us fall flat each and every time. When you are “immune” to something, it has no affect on you - it cannot get an inroad. As we grow up in Jesus, that temptation we struggle with today will become less inviting to us – but as we grow up, the very nature of the temptations we struggle with will change - they just get a little different inroad. The old temptations will not have the same appeal, but be assured, Satan will continue to find ways to tempt us and our own human nature will still struggle with stuff!

We don't always resist, though, do we? Guilt is associated with temptation because it is an end result of our inability or unwillingness to resist. As we grow up in Jesus, we will come to the place where we understand God is helping us to no longer be “caught off guard” when the temptation comes.  Satan’s ability to even make us feel guilty that we are “being tempted” is one of his tactics. Satan wants us to feel that I we are not really changing – growing into a new creature – so he uses that temptation over and over again to attempt to get us to believe the lie that we are not truly a new creation in Christ - we are the 'same old us'.

Satan has a way of bringing up old sins that are already forgiven to make us feel guilty for them again and again! That guilt is a means of keeping us bound – allowing doubt, frustration, and fear to enter in – focusing us away from our deliverance and toward our PAST bondage. It is important for us to remember that temptation only becomes sin when we allow our emotions and imaginations to have free rein to entertain the tempting suggestions the enemy brings. We can reject the thoughts – or we can give place to them in our minds and see them through to actions. Proverbs 4:23 says, “Above all else, guard your heart, for it affects everything that you do.” When we entertain the thought – we begin to give into the temptation. It begins with rejecting the thought – because our thoughts eventually become our attitudes and those attitudes influence our actions.

All of us want to know how to overcome temptation. Recognizing that it exists and has an effect on us is the first step in overcoming – but the main way to deal with temptation is to take responsibility for it. When we blame others for our temptation, we deny our need – we are assigning the responsibility for the sinful temptation to another (even if it is Satan) and that limits our ability to see our need (getting from God what we NEED to overcome). When we acknowledge our need, God’s resources are at our disposal to do the work of overcoming the sinful temptation. God wants us to rely on him, not our self-directed ability (or inability) to resist. James tells us, “Temptation comes from the lure of our own evil desires.” (James 1:14) Sometimes we need to cry out to God to deliver us from OURSELVES.

As we learn to rely upon the Holy Spirit’s assistance in recognizing the temptation, we are able to respond obediently to the truth we have come to learn in our times of spiritual discipline. It is the Spirit’s presence in our lives that helps us to conform to the image of Christ in us, learning to respond differently to the temptation’s pull, so that we are no longer pursuing it. Obedience reinforces our spiritual integrity – our character is transformed, removing the diseased part of us, chunk by chunk, until it is completely gone and we enjoy the total freedom of spiritual health in that area of our life. Integrity is a state of being undivided – not serving two masters – giving of ourselves to obedience to only one master. It is true - we can count on God to unmask what Satan has masked as excuses or "I will never change" thoughts in our lives! Just sayin!