Friday, December 31, 2010

Overcoming Temptation (Part I)

The New Year is usually a time of reflection and new beginnings, a time when many are inspired to better themselves.  A very appropriate time, I think, for me to address an issue that plagues us all.

We recently watched the new Narnia movie, Voyage of the Dawntreader. Each Narnia story has a spiritual theme at its core.  The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe presented sin, Jesus' atoning self-sacrifice, and Satan's defeat at His hands. Prince Caspian taught us that it's far better to trust in God's plan, than to go it alone.  This time around, Narnia addresses the problem of temptation. I won't spoil it for you, in case you haven't seen it yet, but during a climactic moment, the Winter Witch rears her ugly head again to tempt Edmund away from doing what's right.  In fact, temptation is a problem for most of the main characters, throughout the movie, sending us home with the reminder that its consequences carry a great price.  Of course, there is an even greater reward for resisting it and doing what's right.

"Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him. Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death" (James 1:12-15).

By definition, temptation is an exploitation of our weaknesses, which boil down into a cornucopia of flavors of selfishness.  These are chinks in our Godly armor (Eph. 6:10-17), that the enemy needs no help penetrating; we are experts at exposing ourselves to temptation on our own.

Empowered by the Holy Spirit and educated by God's Word, the mature Christian generally manages to put Christ ahead of self.  However, it is almost unavoidable that he will eventually stumble.  God calls us to be holy as He is holy, perfect as He is perfect, to "press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus"(Phil. 3:14).  Being truly born again means receiving God's nature, which does not tolerate sin, in any form.  Therefore we should want to continue pressing toward that goal and ask the Master Blacksmith to fix any and all imperfections in our armor.

To be continued...

No comments: