Sunday, March 31, 2013

The Purpose Driven Life - Day 26

Day 26 - Growing Through Temptation

Every temptation is an opportunity to do good.

We know that Jesus is perfect, and one of the most concise descriptions of Christlike character is the fruit of the spirit: "When the Holy Spirit controls our lives, He will produces this kind of fruit in us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control."  This chapter teaches that  God develops the fruit of the Spirit in your life by allowing you to experiences circumstances in which you're tempted to express the exact opposite quality! Pastor Rick examples this by explaining that God teaches us love by putting some unlovely people around us ... He teaches us joy in the midst of sorrow ... He teaches patience in situations where we are forced to wait.  God uses life to strengthen and grow the fruit of the Spirit within us. 

Likewise, God uses Satan's temptations to develop and grow our character and faith in the Lord. Fortunately, we need not worry as the Bible tells us that Satan is predictable and has been using the same strategy since Creation. The Bible teaches us that temptation follows a four-step process.

Step One: Satan will identify a desire inside of us. Whether it is a sinful desire or a normal desire such as to be loved. Satan will tempt you through your thoughts, he will place ideas in your mind, tempting you to do what you know to be wrong .... what you know to be against the Will of the Lord. The Devil is always trying to get you to follow your desires by offering them to you - but he will do so by seemingly showing you a shortened way - an something for nothing mentality that humans often fall for.  Remember to Beware of Shortcuts!

Step Two: Is doubt. Doubt in what God has told us about sin. Have you ever questioned "Is it really sin?" ... "Did God mean me?" ... "Doesn't God want me to be happy?" ... "How do I know it is a sin?" ... Let me be blunt.  All of the above questions - and questions like these are the Devil speaking to you - tempting you to doubt God's word. God's commandments to you. Trying to lure you into the darkness.  Don't let him succeed!

Step Three: Deception. Here is a truth about Satan, he is incapable of telling the truth. In other words. Anything.. Everything he says. Every thought he sends into your mind. Is a lie. In fact, Satan is called "The Father of Lies."  His lies will come in the form of thoughts that sound something like this... "Nobody will ever know." ... "You can get away with it." ... "God didn't mean it when He said ____."  Know that God's Word is the Only Word you will ever need in your life.  Anyone or anything that attempts to tell you otherwise is the work of Satan.

Step Four: Disobedience. In short, you have fallen for it and Satan has won.  The seeds planted by the Devil in your mind in the form of thoughts have grown and become actions. 

James warns: "We are tempted when we are drawn away and trapped by our own evil desires. Then our evil desires conceive and give birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. Do not be deceived, my dear friends!"

Not only must we learn to overcome temptation, but we must learn to not be overcome by temptation. What does that mean? Well, simply put, it means that the more your mature spiritually, the more Satan hates you. And the more you will become tempted. Being tempted in and of itself is not a sin. Jesus was tempted many, many times - yet He did not sin.  As humans and even as Christians, we will never outgrow temptation.  What does grow is our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and our knowledge that He is always with us, and that when we call to Him for help to not give into temptation - our call will be heard - our call will be answered!

Learning about ourselves is our best defense against temptation. Study yourself, learn environment allows you to become weak to temptations.  Is it when you are depressed? Is it when you are work? At the bar? With certain people? A certain day of the week? Time of the year? Know and understand your weaknesses ... do not be ashamed of them, but learn where the soft spot in the armor is, so that you can best defend yourself against the works of evil. 

Pastor Rick reminds us that temptations keep us dependent upon God. Just as the roots grow stronger when wind blows against a tree, so every time you stand up to temptation, you become more like Jesus!

"God blesses the people who patiently endure testing. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him." - James 1:12 (NLT)