Thursday, January 6, 2011

Overcoming Temptation (Part III)

"For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places" (Eph. 6:12).

Indeed, we are in the midst of a war, in which earthly weapons are rarely used.  It is a war of ideas and worldviews, and the stakes are much higher than money, resources, or lands; we fight for human souls, our own and of those around us.  This is why overcoming temptation and sin is so important.

"Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds. Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin" (Heb. 12:1-4).

God calls for us to endure to the end of the race, and to avoid temptations, which can so easily ensnare and derail us from the mission that He has set before us.

"Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees; And make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed. Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled; Lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright. For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears" (Heb. 12:12-17).

As I was preparing for this message, the following acronym came to me, which I will share with you: SPAR.  It certainly reminds me of Eph. 6:12 (see above).

S = Submit
In thinking back on my own life, I had little trouble with temptation while I was still under my parents' roof, because I knew I would get in trouble if I disobeyed.  Being under their authority contributed greatly to my ability to resist a great variety of sin.  However, when I went to grad. school, I was out on my own for the first time and not under anyone's authority.  I neglected my studies and started going to bars with my friends.

God will hold all of us accountable for our actions in the Last Day, but it greatly helps if we have people we can trust here on earth, to whom we are also accountable.  This takes submission, not only to God, but to those around us: our parents, our pastors, our brothers and sisters in Christ, and our spouses.

P = Pray
All these acronyms are helpful, but ultimately, we are powerless against sin, unless we have a close relationship with the One who has already bruised Satan's head under His heel: Jesus Christ.  We get closer to Him through prayer and studying His Written Word.

A = Avoid
If you have a weakness for ice cream, don't keep it in your house!  Likewise, you need to analyze the things, people, or places that are a snare to you, and do your best to avoid them.  This may not be always possible, but it's a lot easier to avoid the quicksand, if you stay out of the swamp.

R = Rest
As a direct response to the T in HALT, you need to rest.  Physical rest is crucial, because you need a sharp mind and healthy body to withstand the firey darts of the enemy.  Just as important is spiritual rest in Jesus.  Remind yourself of Jesus' promise to take care of you, which is found in Matthew 6:25-34.

Finally, I leave you with what is perhaps the most famous verse on the subject, which needs no further comment from me: "There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it" (1 Cor. 10:13).

1 comment:

Tamela's Place said...

What a great post. submit, pray, avoid, rest.. resting is the big one here for me. Resting in Jesus that is and trusting His will done in His time and having peace with this.. Thank you for the reminder :)