Sunday, January 2, 2011

Overcoming Temptation (Part II)

"To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it" (Rev. 2:17b).

Before we can overcome temptation, we need to know our enemy... that is to say, we need to know ourselves.  Think back to the times you gave in to temptation.  What sequence of events led up to your fall?  Is there a pattern that you can learn something from?

A few years ago, I happened to hear a portion of a radio program, in which the topic was temptation.  The speaker suggested an acronym to help us remember four common weaknesses in the Christian's armor: HALT.  It's catchy, because it reminds you that when you feel you're about to give in to temptation, you need to halt!  Here is what each letter stands for:

H = Hungry
You know what happens when you go grocery shopping on an empty stomach, right?  You often end up buying several items not on your list, which you either don't need or that are bad for you (or both!).  And who can forget poor Esau, who infamously sold his birthright for a bowl of lentils (Gen. 25:29-34).

But beyond literal hunger, we humans tend to lust after things.  God knows that, which is probably why He devoted three of the Ten Commandments (adultery, stealing, and coveting) to the problem.  But Jesus, when He was tried by Satan, at the end of His 40 days in the desert, had the stamina to refuse offers of bread and entire kingdoms.

The lesson for us is to learn to be content with what the Lord has provided us and to lean on Him when trials arise.

A = Angry
Paul tells us, "Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath" (Eph. 4:26).  In-of-itself, anger is not always a sin, especially if it is for a good reason.  Jesus, for example, was clearly very angry at the merchants in the temple, because they were trying to profit from those who came to worship God. He overturned their tables and chased them out of the place with a whip He made Himself.  We can be angry at sin around us and those who wrong us, but we need to (1) be careful that you do not sin in your anger (i.e. saying or doing things you will later regret), and (2) that you quickly replace that anger with forgiveness, even if the person who wronged you does not apologize.

I believe that anger stems from things not turning out according to our plan, and people not behaving the way we want them to.  But we need to remember that we are not the ones in control.  God is still on the throne, and no one has ever or will ever interfere with His perfect plans.  Diffuse your anger before it gets out of hand, by remembering that God knew from before time began that you would face this trial, and He has had all eternity to work out the resolution.  All we need to do is trust Him and follow His plan.

L = Lonely
We are social creatures.  Most of us crave companionship, friendship, love, and approval.  Closely tied to hunger, this desire to belong and be loved can drive us to do things we would hardly consider otherwise.  Ugly examples abound, but a simple one is the peer pressure we feel when part of a group, to do things that group is doing, just to feel like we belong.

No man has ever been more lonely than Jesus on the cross.  "Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? which is, being interpreted, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" (Mark 15:34).  The accepted interpretation is that since Jesus had taken all the world's sins upon Himself, God the Father could not look upon Him.  He had been abandoned by his closest friends, shunned by His family, and tortured by those whom He came to save.  And yet, He also said, "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do" (Luke 23:34).  Even in His most desperate, loneliest hour, He thought of others first and sinned not.

In truth, we are never alone, because God has promised never to leave nor forsake us.  Nevertheless, surround yourself with other sincere Christians, who will encourage you and be encouraged by you.

T = Tired
This is an ironic one, because I am typing this at 3:15 in the morning!  LOL!  But I have certainly found that I do not think clearly when my body craves sleep.  My judgment is impaired, and my defenses against temptation are compromised.  But sleep improves not only our body's ability to stay healthy, but also the toughness of our Godly armor.

Yup!  Time for bed!

Next, I will introduce my own four-letter acronym...

1 comment:

Tamela's Place said...

the "A" spoke to me.. i have a tendency to worry more than i should which in my studies i have discovered a worrisome person has control issues.. Working on that this year with the Help of the HOly spirit of course.. NOt something i can do on my own. It does give me a sense of relief tho to be reminded that God is in control so my worry is really in vain it serves no purpose whatsoever. God is delivering me and i thank him for his patience :)

A great post thank you for sharing