2010-11-26 - Handling Pink Elephants
Part 3 ~ Collectively
That's why it's important to each of us individually. Now, why should it be important to us all collectively? Well let's say you get a small wound - maybe barely a scrape - but if it gets infected and is left untreated the infection will spread. Before you know it you could have to lose a limb or risk losing your life. Seems like I remember reading somewhere that back in the Civil War more people died after the battles from infections than died on the field at the hands of the enemy. Or this time of the year your sinuses get a little irritated by pollen. That irritation leads to sinus infection that untreated can become an upper respiratory infection. Then deep in your lungs pneumonia develops and you die. A small irritation ignored destroys the whole body We are one body... what affects part of us affects all of us. Romans 12:5 clearly says, "So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another." I wonder how many churches have fallen due to sins of infected members. Look at the Atlanta Baptist Convention or the Episcopal Church and their battles with homosexuality. Look at the pedophilia plague of the Catholic Church.
How Do I Nip It?
OK I get it. It's important to deal with so how do we deal with it? How do we nip temptation? Think back to the pink elephant illustration. The trick is that by trying to not think about the elephants they wind up staying in your mind. When we try not to think about things it doesn't work and yet everyday most of us will not think about pink elephants. Why? Because we are busy thinking about other things. If instead of not thinking about elephants we had instead tried over and over to think of bouncing black books or big ole friendly smiley faces, those pink elephants would have faded into distant memories.
Temptation to sin is kind of like that. If something tempts you, you can't not think about it. The solution is to think of something else. We need to replace the pink elephants of temptation with black books and friendly faces.
My copy of the greatest book ever written has a black cover. For others it may be blue, burgundy or brown. This book is filled with all sorts of wonderful advice. One piece of advice contained within it comes from the great psychologist Dr. Paul who wrote in Philippians 4:8, "Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things." The psalmist knew it too when he wrote, "Thy word have I hid in my heart that I might not sin against God." (Psalm 119:11 ) Martin Luther, one of the fathers of the Reformation movement stated, "When I find myself assailed by temptation, I forthwith lay hold of some text of the Bible, which Jesus extends to me."
Jesus, our own divine example, showed us how to apply these truths to thoughts of temptation. In Luke we saw Him confront temptation with scripture. He didn't try to not think about the temptation. He didn't try to argue about it. He didn't try to discuss the good and bad of eating bread, jumping off buildings, or being powerful instead he chose to not think about them by dwelling on the scripture. He just turned his mind to scripture; he thought about better things.
We ought to be so familiar with scripture that we can use it when the very thought of sin enters in.
So let me share with you some black book bullets that you can use to shoot down some temptations. You may cut and paste the table below. It should print small enough to be placed with your money inside your wallet. I originally pulled this list from a bigger list by Charles Stanley and added a few verses to it. As you read the scripture and find verses add some of your own.
Bullets from the Bible
Next time we'll look at friendly faces to help us deal with temptation. Until then...
All verses are from the King James Version unless otherwise specified.