I guess I’m normal, but sometimes I feel like I’m all alone in some areas of my Christian walk. One of those areas is temptation. I’ve heard the sermons and done studies over it, but I still end up feeling helpless and like I’m the only person in the history of Christianity that has ever dealt with temptations. Part of it is that I have given in to temptations so often that I feel like a failure.
But today I have to offer praise to God, who knows my inner thoughts and understands how I’m feeling. Because today, He showed me that His Word contains everything I need for godly living, and He showed me that He actively intervenes in my life, often times in the most subtle of ways. Allow me to explain…
Yesterday I was listening to a lecture over the beginning of Genesis in my Old Testament Introduction class that I’m taking. Dr. Gibson, the instructor, was talking about Genesis 3, and the temptation in the Garden of Eden. In his discussion of this passage, he brought up a verse from 1 John 2:16:
For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world.
In this passage, John lists the 3 “focal points,” if you will, of temptation:
- Lust of the flesh
- Lust of the eyes
- Pride of Life
Dr. Gibson compared these to the way Satan tempted Eve in the Garden, described in Genesis 3:6:
Lust of the flesh – “Good for food…”
Lust of the eyes – “Pleasing to the eye…”
Pride of Life – “Desirable for gaining wisdom…”
He then went on to describe how these same focal points of temptation were used when Satan attempted to tempt Jesus in the wilderness (see Luke 4:1-13):
Lust of the flesh – Stones to bread…
Lust of the eyes – Kingdoms of the earth…
Pride of Life – Pinnacle of the Temple…
This is an interesting teaching, and one that deserves some real thought. There are all kinds of ways we can apply this to our lives…
The thing that amazed me today, though, is that my normal morning Bible study – the course I am going through on the Online Bible College – was over temptation! And even more amazing was the fact that it taught this exact same truth, about the 3 focal points of temptation listed in 1 John 2:16! It used the same examples from the temptation of Eve in the Garden, and Jesus in the wilderness, too! I love that God speaks to me through His Word, and that just when I need to experience Him, to see a tangible way that He is working in my life, He offers it. Some may say that it’s just coincidence that I received teaching over a specific topic for the first time, from 2 separate sources, right at the same time. But I can’t help but think that God ordained that this would happen, right at this point in my life. Perhaps I need this teaching right now more than ever. Only time will tell.
So what are some of the ways we can apply this to our lives? My study this morning offered these ideas:
- Understand temptation and the devil’s schemes (but don’t focus on them)
- Know that our old selves, the person we were before Christ changed us, still pops it dead little head up now and then (or daily for some of us). That old self attempts to tell us that this world has something to offer, that honor and recognition in this world is something to attain, and that we should make ourselves comfortable in this world and its ways.
- Know the victory is already won
- Colossians 2:13-15 says “…God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.” Jesus has already defeated Satan on the Cross – the victory is won!
- Walk in the Spirit
- Galatians 5:16 says “So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.” Here, Paul explains that if we focus on Jesus and doing the things that will draw us closer to Him (studying His Word, prayer, ministering to others), we won’t have time to give in to the temptations that surround us.
- Avoid areas of obvious temptation
- Andy Stanley preached a series titled “Guardrails” (click the link…I highly recommend it!), where he talks about setting up boundaries in our lives so that we don’t fall into the traps that the devil has set for us. The best thing we can do for ourselves is to keep ourselves from entering in to areas of known temptation. If you’re a recovering alcoholic, don’t go to bars. It’s easier said than done, but it’s a very practical way to avoid temptation and therefore avoid the sin and guilt that goes along with it.
**Some material today quoted from Lesson 104-13: Temptation, from the course Essential Truths I – Living with God, from the Online Bible College