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Temptation

23. Partake – The Christian Disciple and Temptation

As Beautiful As They Are Delicious... :)

Photo courtesy of Jan

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Jesus said in Matthew 26v41: "Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak." And Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 10v12-13: “So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don't fall! No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.”

We know that Jesus’ words are true because we stumble and sin, as we face constant temptation to sin. It’s an undeniable and inevitable fact of the Christian disciple’s life! But it is good to know that temptations are common experiences for all Christian disciples, and not just for us as individuals, no matter what we may think! An important thing to note right at the start is that temptation itself is not sin! Rather it is the giving into temptation that is causes us to sin. So one of the keys to living a righteous life and not sinning is by dealing with temptation the very moment it confronts us. Part of dealing with temptation is to know its strategy to ensnare. The Bible tells us that as Christian disciples we face temptation from three different angles: the world, our old nature and satan.

Temptation by the world

In the Bible the term world does not always refer to the universe. It is often used to describe the community of sinful men and women that possesses a spirit of rebellion against God (1 John 5:19). Because of its opposition to God, the world values those things God hates (1 John 2:16). It’s temptations to the believer are twofold: lust for the sensual and pride in life.

Love of the world produces in Christian disciples

A turning away from the Lord’s work and other believers (2Timothy4:10) Alienation from God (James 4:4) Corrupting sins (2 Peter 1:4; 1 John 2:15-17) Deception by false teachers (1 John 4:1; 2 John 7)

    To overcome the love of the world we need to love God with a greater love (1 John 2:15).

    Temptation by the sinful nature or the flesh

    Flesh in the Bible refers to the carnal, sinful nature within people that is opposed to God (Romans 8:7). The actions produced by the flesh are given in detail in Galatians 5:19-21. a person whose life is characterized by these sins cannot be a true Christian and is under the wrath of God (Galatians 5:21; Ephesians 2:3). Though the flesh is not destroyed for the Christian, he or she does not need to obey it (Romans 7:15-25). They possess a new nature empowered by the Holy Spirit. Since the flesh and the Spirit are totally opposed to each other, the one whom the believer allows to dominate will take charge in his life and produce its own fruit.

    The solution to the urges of the flesh lies in acknowledging and remembering that the power of sin was nullified by Jesus’ death on the cross (Romans 6:11) and in living under the control of the Spirit’s power (Galatians 5:16). It is a moment-by-moment dependence in faith on the Spirit’s power. We must choose by an act of the will to benefit from the Spirit’s power and assistance.

    Temptation By satan

    Now I am not going to go into detail now about satan but just to say something about his role in temptation of the Christian disciple.

    With the Christian satan will

    Accuse them (Rev 12:10) Devour their testimony for Jesus Christ (1 Peter 5:8) Deceive them (2 Corinthians 11:14) Hinder their work (1 Thessalonians 2:18)

    The Christian’s response to satan is

    To recognise his power and deception (2 Corinthians 2:11; Ephesians 6:11) Stay with the faith (1 Peter 5:9) Wear the armour of God (Ephesians 6:10-17) Resist him openly by submitting to God and he will flee(James 4:7) Not to give him opportunities (Ephesians 4:27)

    Probably the best way to oppose him is to grow as a Christian disciple and submit all to God. We must remember that our love for God must always be stronger than our love for the world. If we love somebody, we do not want to hurt that person. When we go against God and sin, we are hurting our relationship with Him. He is a holy God and cannot abide any sin! Therefore, as we grow as Christian disciples we grow more in love with God, and therefore our desire to sin grows less.

    As I read earlier from 1 Corinthians 10v12-13, all of us are tempted but God will provide a way out so that we do not succumb to temptation. Remember that as the Holy Spirit indwells you, greater is He that is in you than anything else in the world (1 John 4v4). Now that is a comforting thought, that we don’t face these temptations alone! So next time you are faced with temptation, pray and ask for God’s help! If you have specific sins that entangle you habitually, try to memorise a verse of Scripture concerning it and pray that verse daily and ask that the Holy Spirit will help you avoid the temptation! It may also mean that you are to avoid the situation or circumstance where you are being tempted. After all, if you are on a diet, you don’t spend lunchtime in a candy store!

    For more to think about please do read for yourself 1 Corinthians 10v12-13. Ask yourself the following question and suggestions, writing them down if you can, and see how you respond or react to them. Then why not share your answers with your spouse or a close friend, so that you can pray over any issues together.

    Q1 – What situations and circumstances do you find where are under habitual temptation? Q2 – Can I recognize ways to escape temptation and flee it, just as Joseph did from Potiphar’s wife in Genesis 39? Q3 – How can I ensure that I will continue standing firm against the temptations?

    The next time I am hoping to start talking about God Himself, so we can see just how the life of a Christian disciple is shaped by what we believe about the God we are to enjoy in our earthly life! As ever, if you have any comments to make on this, please do contact me at partake(at)hotmail.co.uk. I would love to hear from you and if these are making any difference at all to your continual Christian discipleship! Thank you.

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