Praying through the Psalms

Praying through the Psalms

Monday, January 25, 2016

Temptation Island

Matthew 3:8 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. 9 “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.” 10 Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’”11 Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.

There are many ways to view temptation. The world even has songs about it. 80's rock band Squeeze had a hit song, "Tempted by the fruit of another". There is a TV reality series called "Temptation Island". This was where married couples were put on an island with several attractive members of the opposite sex to test the strength of their relationship. Of course, some failed.

What does the bible say about temptation? The best bible verse on the subject comes from 1 Corinthians 10:13 which says, "No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man, but God is faithful and will not let be tempted beyond what you can bear, but will help you to stand up under it."

From this we can summarize some basic components of temptation, and how we can deal with our own "temptation island". One, most temptation is similar in form and pretty much the same for all of us. Temptation has not changed much in 2,000 years, and it is helpful to know that Jesus faced temptations of every kind and stood up under it. So it is not so much will we be tempted, but when and how? And how will we respond? The devil's strategy is to keep us ignorant of his schemes, so we will be caught unaware.

Second, God has prepared a way out so that we can avoid giving in to it. First, be aware of it. Name it. Tell someone about it. Keep it out of the shadows, expose it to the light. Second, there is a promise from Jesus. You will never be tempted beyond what you can bear. While it may seem unbearable at the time, it isn't. If our mindset is I have to give in to it, we will do so every time. This is the great lie of the devil we buy into. But God promises us that there is always a way out, if we are willing to look for it, and act on it.

Finally, the bible teaches us to "flee from temptation. The moment we think temptation doesn't apply to us, or we are too much of a spiritual giant to be affected by it, we are in trouble. It is sort of like the alcoholic who says, "I've been sober for a long time, I can hang out in bars". They are asking to fall. If you don't want to fall, avoid slippery places. Don't go to "temptation island" thinking I can handle it.

One of the beautiful things about Jesus is that he became human and lived among us. He ACTUALLY knows what we go through. He has been there and been tempted by that. Therefore, ultimately if Jesus is within us, we have a power that is greater than he is in the world. That is how Paul can say, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." Philippians 4:13 The only question is are we going to call on that power, or keeping bumbling on to temptation island and suffering the consequences.

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