2013-01-18 - Temptation
2 Corinthians 12:7-10 (NASB)
Paul had a thorn in his side. I know most experts believe this to be a person or group that persecuted Paul but still when I rid this I think of it as a sin that he struggled with. That's how I want to read it anyway. We all have our own sins and temptations that we deal with. The things that are most tempting to me are likely not appealing at all to others; the issues they struggle with most I would never consider to be a big deal either. But to me, my temptations are a thorn in my side. But when I fall to my thorn I do not have to be discouraged. When you fall prey to sin you do not have to beat yourself up either. God's grace is sufficient.
We are responsible for our choices. We choose to sin so please don't take this the wrong way but sometimes it is helpful if we think of sin chasing us like a lion chasing a gazelle. Sure the gazelle could have run faster to escape the lion but ultimately it is the lion not the gazelle that is responsible for the gazelle's death. Satan is such a roaring lion. But it is our job to outrun that lion. Don't stand and face the lion, a gazelle might be able to gore a lion with its horns and occasionally hold its own but more often than not that gazelle is going down.
We are to turn from the lion, turn from the temptation, and run; run to Jesus, before it leads to death - actual sin. For sin is death. Every sin we commit kills a part of us. But if we run to Jesus, he will always protect us from a lion. Do you remember the old Tom and Jerry cartoons? Jerry would turn to the big bulldog when Tom chased him. Like a mouse running to a dog to get away from a cat, we need to run to Jesus to escape the clutches of sin.
But when we don't outrun the lions and we don't outrun the old alley cat when we do sin, we are to do two things. First, repent to God. This one is obvious to most people I think but it is worth repeating. Repent! God already knows. Your sin will not surprise him but confessing it to him helps you to lose the guilt and shame. It takes the power away from the sin. The second thing we can do is judge ourselves. This one is not so obvious to some I think so let me explain it more. We need to judge ourselves or God will judge us. As a kid there were some times where I did wrong and went to my dad and said "Dad, I'm sorry I messed up and did this. I feel bad." The punishment I received then was less severe than when my dad found out that I had swept it under the rug and compounded the problem by trying to cover it up. It is also worth noting that we should judge our sins harshly. Take a serious look at the triggers that can cause us to stray, deal with those things. Scriptures tell us it is better to pluck out an eye or cut off a hand than to die and go to hell. Poking your own eye out and cutting your own hand off would be tough. If this were very literal, I would just be a blind, deaf, dumb, torso by now but it does indicate how seriously we should carve out the sin. My feet have taken me places they shouldn't; my hands have done things they shouldn't; and my eyes have seen, ears heard, and mouth spoken things they shouldn't. I do not need to maim myself, but I do need to cut out the sin in my life and deal with it quickly and decisively.
Here are two things to help us do that. First, die daily to sin. Pray each day for strength to run. Being faced with temptations is a burden or cross we must bear everyday but we need to cast that burden at the feet of the master and rest secure in him. "Come and I will give you rest." Second, give yourself to God. It is not enough to take yourself away from sin. You must also surrender your life to God. "Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you." (James 4:7 NIV) Just get under the protection of God and Satan will tuck his tail and run for greater is he that is in me than he that is in the world!
All scripture references from KJV unless otherwise noted