Dealing with the Issue of Temptation Part 2


“Temptation as a Reflection of our Own Hearts”

 

9 Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction.” (First Timothy 6:9) NIV

 

            There is a part of temptation that ought to be celebrated as we will see later in this series. However, there is a part of temptation that gives us great warnings concerning the true condition of our hearts.  I am not afraid of making this statement: “The more idols we have in our lives, the more we are going to fall victim of our own temptations.” Temptations are designed to seduce us to sin; we can only be seduced with those things we like and enjoy. If I am trying to follow a diet because I feel that I need to lose some weight, I am not going to be tempted with raw vegetables and carrot juice; even as I recognize that these foods are good for me; they don’t necessary interest me so much. I doubt that I’ll be tempted with pork as I have learned to avoid pork. However, for me, temptation can come in the form of yellow rice, with Puerto Rican style Pinto Beans, little pieces of turkey bacon and a nice sized and juicy T-bone steak. Satan looks for those weak areas in our lives to attack us. In general those weak areas are very common to all of us:

“There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man…” First Corinthians 10:13

The same happens with other desires in our lives; those are open doors for temptations to enter in left and right. However, the bottom line here is that we will all be tempted; perhaps in different individual ways; but at the end we must understand that temptation feeds out of the desires of the flesh. If we are honest we must recognize that we all have desires in us that are not Godly. Some have gotten to the point of feeling comfortable with confessing our sins to one another; and that is indeed Biblical. However, how mighty it would be if we will get to the point of confessing our temptations before they manifest into sin.

            As I said before, we can’t see in the dark, but Satan can. If Satan can get us in his dark rooms of sin, he will make sure that at the least, we come out of there (If we ever come out!) so wounded, that we would never be able to recover. Many are walking around in shame and trapped by sin because they never opened their mouth to expose Satan right from the beginning. By exposing our temptations we turn the lights of truth on and it is that light that will shine so bright that it would blind Satan and make him flee from us.

            If we are not exposing our temptations we must ask ourselves: why? Is it that we have no one to talk to with that level of transparency? This may be true! It amazes me to see how connected people are today’s days with cell phones that, not only allow us to talk to someone at any time in any place, but also we have the ability to text and stay connected in Facebook, Twitter and other social networks. However, it equally amazes me that even with all that connection we are still so disconnected from the truths of our hearts and what comes in and out of our thought process. If we are not exposing our temptations we must ask ourselves: why? Is it that we are ashamed or is it that we are enjoying the temptation and looking forward to the sin? Temptations are a great indicator of the stuff that is still piling up in our hearts; however temptation is not the sin; it is just an attempt of the enemy to bring you down. The Devil has been able to recognize those buttons and triggers in your life and he knows exactly how, where and when to attack you more effectively. We will all be tempted because we all have flesh and stuff in our hearts that needs changes. That is the reason why God allows certain temptations to come our way; God can also use them to get us to see our condition; when we do and we cry out to God, that is when God is able to turn everything around for good. However, as long as we continue insisting in our sinful ways we are refusing God’s help.

            The Bible tells us in Galatians that there is a war going on inside of us; the war between the Spirit of God and the flesh. We have an innermost man that is always willing to do God’s will, but we also have an undisciplined and disgusting flesh that desires nothing Godly. The Bible tells us in Matthew 26:41

“Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

            Which one are you going to listen to? It is time for many of us to take an inventory; to examine our ways and to take a closer look at the end-results of our choices. The times are so dark that we must not wait to confess our sins; we must attack as soon as it becomes a temptation; why? Because if it is a temptation; there is something in our hearts that want that thing; it is that “want” that we must honestly deal with. Not on our own strength, but in the power of God.

TO BE CONTINUED…

 

 

 

 

Dealing with the Issue of Temptation Part 1


“The Lord’s Prayer and Temptations”

 

            In some circles in the Christian faith, admitting that we are being tempted is considered as sinful as the sinful act, itself. Satan has prepared a nice trap for all of us where the word of the day is: “Don’t tell anyone!” We keep stuff secret in an attempt to avoid shame and judgment. We fail to recognize that the Devil is able to see in the dark; when we keep issues of temptation a secret we are turning the lights off in an unknown room full of dangerous and hurtful things to run into. We will, without a doubt, get hurt!

            The Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible Dictionary defines “temptation” as “An enticement or invitation to sin, with the implied promise of greater good to be derived from following the way of disobedience.” This is a very powerful and meaningful definition as temptation doesn’t come at you by saying: “Hello, I am temptation and I am coming to invite you to be destroyed.” Temptation extends the invitation; temptation uses enticement to lure you in, making it sound like the way of disobedient is better than the way of righteousness. Temptation always gives us an underline message that tells us that we are missing something; therefore it is okay to give into temptation.

            A good friend of mine, Mr. Reggie Bridge, and I were both confronting one of our students at the mission who stated something that I will never forget. The student was looking for a way out of having to admit the obvious truth. He started talking about others doing the same thing. Mr. Bridges then responded by saying: “I always see the same answer from people that are caught in sin; they use the same lines: ‘I did not know, nobody told me and everybody else is doing it.’”These three powerful excuses are corrupting our moral system like never before in the history of humanity. Giving into temptation as if we can’t help it is the acceptable doctrine of the hour. After all, the popular prayer known as, “The Lord’s Prayer,” promotes this kind of mentality. How? Matthew 6:13 tells us:

“…And lead us not into temptation,
   but deliver us from the evil one.”

 

            Do we care to review this translation? I must admit that I did not pay any attention to this translation until one day I was flipping channels and I ran into a Catholic Priest who pointed-out the error of this popular and acceptable translation. He actually used the correct translation using the Spanish language for it. The “Nueva Versión Internacional,” (New International Version) in Spanish reads:

“Y no nos dejes caer en *tentación,
   sino líbranos del maligno.”

This Spanish version is literally translated as: “And, do not allow us to fall into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.” This makes a whole lot more sense than “…lead us not into temptation.” How can we ask God not to lead us into temptation? We are actually asking God not to guide us or show us the way of temptation. Remember our definition for “temptation?”

            Why is this so significance? Because, if we don’t understand the nature of temptations, we will end-up like many; blaming God for our sins. Many then will have the position of “If God doesn’t want me to fall into temptation; then He needs to stop me from being tempted because as long as I am tempted, I will fall.” There is no wonder we have so many people that are just sitting back, doing their thing and with very little conviction… Why? Because it’s all God’s fault! James 1:13-15 tells us:

13 When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; 14 but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. 15 Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.”

            We established that we are all tempted at one point or the other. These verses started by saying: “When tempted.” The Bible also tells us in First Corinthians 10:13 “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man…” Temptations are normal! However, these temptations are a direct product of our own evil desires. Those evil desires drag us away and entice us as that desire gives birth to sin. The idea of connecting God to our temptations is absurd. In Matthew 4:3 the Bible refers to Satan as the Tempter. It is Satan and his demonic army’s job to tempt us. However, we can’t blame it all on the devil; as we saw in James, the devil knows exactly how to tempt us based on the evil desires that are already in us. In Genesis 3:6 we read:

 “When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.”

Notice the pattern; the serpent already knew that Eve liked that tree; and if she was not paying attention to the tree, she was now.  The enemy knew it was the perfect way to come after our souls. How could she resist Good food and something pleasing to the eyes? It was just too much for the flesh to resist. But, like many of us, we always need a justification or an excuse to sin. For some it’s, the “everybody else is doing it” excuse; for others, it’s the “they did it to me so, now it is pay back” excuse. For others, it’s the “well, if God wants me to stop, He can take the desire away” excuse. So what was it for Eve? She saw that the tree was “desirable for gaining wisdom.” What can possibly be wrong with gaining a little wisdom; right? As a side note we most also add that sin loves company as we see that Eve “…gave some to her husband…”

 

TO BE CONTINUED…

Are you Trying to Draw Near to God Without a Personal Relationship with Him?


February 4

By Mr. Dennis Owens

“Learning from Nadab and Abihus”

“And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer, and put fire therein, and put incense thereon, and offered strange fire before the LORD, which he commanded them not.” (Leviticus 10:1)

            There are many Nadabs and Abihus today. They draw near to God but fail to treat Him as holy in their personal relationships with Him. Their presumption often goes long unpunished only by the grace of God; but this story confronts us with whether we are “treating Him as holy.” Perhaps this is an opportunity to ask Him to show you what it means to Him, and to align your heart anew with His holiness at a greater depth. None of us wants to be found in the ultimate place of Nadab or Abihu, so this may be an opportunity for some to examine their heart attitude toward God.

            God may have given us a picture with Nadab and Abihu to warn us against a do-it-yourself religion without a surrendered heart. That is a thought that should scare us all into judgment. Jesus has made us priests of the Lord. We are not all clergy, but we are all ministers of Christ. But we’re not all living as priests of the Lord or allowing the gifts of the Holy Spirit to flow through us for the benefit of others. Perhaps some time alone with God, saying to Him, “I trust You so much, I’m all in. I want Your way not mine, I believe that your plans are your wisdom are better than mine. I am willing to live by faith! Fill me with your Holy Spirit and transform my life from the inside out as I meditate and apply Your Word to my life.” When you take this step life is never the same.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Strange Fire


February 3

By Mr. Dennis Owens

“Then Aaron lifted up his hands toward the people and blessed them…. And Moses and Aaron went into the tent of meeting. When they came out and blessed the people, the glory of the Lord appeared to all the people. Then fire came out from before the Lord and consumed the burnt offering…and when all the people saw it, they shouted and fell on their faces” (Lev. 9:22-24).

Wow, what a glorious scene. Fire appears from heaven and devours the sacrifice! But it’s not just visual; there is a sense of God’s holy presence that causes every single person to shout and fall prostrate before God!  But the scene quickly changes when the same fire which devours the sacrifice now devours two priests! Nadab and Abihu offer “strange fire,” before the Lord, which “He had commanded not.”  But what did they do? “Now Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took their respective firepans, and after putting fire in them, placed incense on it and offered strange fire before the LORD, which He had not commanded them. And fire came out from the presence of the LORD and consumed them, and they died before the LORD” (Lev. 10:1,2) What a shock! This happened while the entire congregation of Israel, including Moses and Aaron saw what happened. If there wasn’t a fear of God among the people before, there would be one now. Did they even understand what had happened? Aaron must have been in agony of so great a loss. What had happened? Moses, who has spent considerable time in God’s presence, gives the explanation: “Moses said to Aaron, “It is what the LORD spoke, saying, ‘By those who come near Me I will be treated as holy, And before all the people I will be honored'” (Lev 10:3). Aaron is so submitted to God at this point that he says nothing and submits to God’s holy judgment.

What are we to learn from this tragic incident? We can have a calling directly from God Himself, we can experience God’s glory, we can spend time in His presence, but ultimately it is a matter of our hearts. What was Nadab and Abihu’s motive for offering what God called “strange fire?”  Was it do-it-yourself worship? Was it “of the flesh?” What we do from natural impulse, without thinking it through, often exposes what’s in our hearts. Here is the sin of presumption; and it was visited with sudden and awful judgment.

The expression “strange fire” seems imprecise and has been interpreted numerous ways. The infraction may have involved any of the following: using coals from someplace other than the burnt offering altar, using the wrong kind of incense, or entering the Holy of Holies at an inappropriate time. The latter rendering seems more likely here since, the LORD himself had indeed shown himself to be holy by the way he responded to the infraction of Nadab and Abihu. They had not treated the LORD as holy, so the LORD acted on his own behalf to show that he was indeed holy. Whatever the reason, they did not honor God as God. Their hearts were not right with Him and it was their hearts that God judged.