Monday, March 11, 2013

Escaping Temptation

If it wasn't fun, it wouldn't be tempting

Back in the Old Testament days, when the nation of Israel was possessing the land, there was a time when the LORD told Joshua, the nation's leader, to take out the city of Jericho by marching around it and trusting in the LORD. The LORD had given the Israelites the command to not take any of the spoil of Jericho when they overthrew it.

One man, Aachan, let temptation get the best of him. He spied some nice clothes and a fat wedge of gold like a slice of cake, and he just had to have it. He figured nobody would know, but maybe he forgot about the LORD. Anyhow, next thing you know,  the nation loses badly trying to defeat the town of Ai, something that should have been child's play. The LORD helped Joshua narrow down who it was, and before you know it, Aachen was outed as the guilty one.

Joshua asked Aachen why he disobeyed the LORD, and Aachen's reply is a classic temptation story.

Joshua 7:21 KJV - [21] When I saw among the spoils a goodly Babylonish garment, and two hundred shekels of silver, and a wedge of gold of fifty shekels weight, then I coveted them, and took them; and, behold, they are hid in the earth in the midst of my tent, and the silver under it.

It didn't work out well for Aachen. He was executed, along with his whole family.

Some temptation comes from outside

Yeah it does. In our day and age you can't turn the TV for 15 minutes without seeing some nearly topless babe. Doesn't matter which channel. The TV has a non-stop flood of ads for booze and women. Beer ads always look great. Carl's Jr. ads always look like they're for an adult channel.

The shows aren't much better.

The TV isn't the only source of temptation. If you have internet access, you have access to all the free porn you choose to view. Even a cell phone with a data plan is potentially a personal peep show.

Of course, each person has their own temptations in life. If your thing is booze, walking down the street and passing a liquor store could be a challenge. If you're a smoker trying to quit, temptation is everywhere. And if you are trying to lose weight, you face the tough challenge of needing to eat, but not too much.

Temptation bombards you from everywhere!

Some temptation comes from you

Well, let's face it: We often are our own worst enemies. If you are trying to lose weight, does it do you any good to walk past a doughnut shop? If you are trying to quit smoking, does it do you any good to hang out with smokers? If you struggle with alcohol, you know who the drinkers are. Same with drugs; you know who's drugging and who ain't.

So, where you put yourself matters. Who you put yourself with matters. And what you think really matters. Sometimes we're tempted by thoughts of anger over a situation in our past. Thoughts of pride, manipulation, envy, laziness, judgement; you name it.

The Book of James sheds light on where temptation comes from

James 1:13-15 KJV - [13] 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: [14] But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. [15] Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.

So even the temptations that come at us from out side are really playing against our inner desires. Something captures our attention, or maybe we crave something and go after it. We are tempted when we are drawn away by our own lusts and enticed. And that evil thing grows and grows until it kills us.

You can ask to avoid temptation

Jesus had twelve disciples, and one day, they asked him a really great question.

Luke 11:1-4 KJV - [1] And it came to pass, that, as he was praying in a certain place, when he ceased, one of his disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples. [2] And he said unto them, When ye pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth. [3] Give us day by day our daily bread. [4] And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil.

Jesus tells the disciples to ask the LORD to spare them from temptation. And it wont' be the last time.

Luke 22:39-40 NKJV - [39] Coming out, He went to the Mount of Olives, as He was accustomed, and His disciples also followed Him. [40] When He came to the place, He said to them, "Pray that you may not enter into temptation."

As Jesus was heading to the garden of Gethsemane with his disciples, He told them to pray. And for what? That they might not enter into temptation. Jesus knows you face temptation, and He is telling you, you, you to ask for help! Ask the LORD to keep you away from temptation. Why? Because Jesus said to do so. Ask the LORD for help. Jesus told you to do so, twice.

Romans 7:24 KJV - [24] O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?

2 Peter 2:9 KJV - [9] The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished:

Jesus is the answer.