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Temptations Can Be Frustrating

October 15, 2022

failureTempations. We all face them. Everyone does. A surprising reminder, Jesus faced them! The frustration of temptations come when we give in to them (something Jesus never did, but we’ll get to that in a bit). Often, they come when you’re not expecting it or you might have prepared better. So, when they come — not if — how we respond to them will determine our success or failure in that moment.

People everywhere face temptations daily. No one is immune. Lust, gluttony, laziness, anger, hatred, gossip, bitterness, envy, jealousy, covetousness are just a few that we battle. There are times we tell a “little white lie” to make someone feel better. Or maybe the reason was to protect ourselves from a very awkward conversation if we were honest. Maybe we found a $5 bill all the while you knew who it really belonged to, but, hey, “finders keepers”. Maybe the shortcuts you took on the taxes weren’t something anyone would catch. It saved you a bunch of money, but the ethics were on the southside of righteousness. You get that nagging poke in your heart, knowing it was wrong, but you ignore that still small voice telling you to do the right thing. Maybe you saw someone in need in a way you could help, and you ignored their plea. Or you rolled up your car window as you approached the street corner where the homeless tend to beg and then fiddled with your radio to avoid making eye contact.

There are so many things that distract us from our faithful walk with the Lord and those temptations, when we fail, drive a wedge between us and Him. Instead of running in repentance to our Father we try to forget about it and focus on something else to appease our conscience. In essence, we’re doing the very thing Adam did: attempting to hide our sin. Often, it’s just our stubborn rebellious heart self-medicating with the sin that so easily besets or ensnares us.

Hebrews 12:1
1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. (NLT)

Sin slows us down. It’s like carrying a very heavy burden uphill while trying to run. We might get a few steps without a stumble but tripping and falling are easily predicted. It doesn’t take a genius to know that someone is going to land on their face. Many times, people will try to excuse their sins with thoughts like, “no one will ever know,” or “it’s not hurting anyone.” But the truth is it IS hurting both the Lord (you’re being disobedient and sinning against Him) and other believers. How is it hurting others? YOU are not as effective in the kingdom of God if you’re part of the walking-wounded, weighed down by your sin, and not able to clearly hear the voice of the Holy Spirit. Sin interferes with our prayer signal and makes it more difficult to hear the voice of the Lord.

James 5:16
16 Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results. (NLT)

If the prayer of a righteous person has this type of impact; it would reason that those struggling with unrepentant sins would have the counter effect. Oh, and then the pride issue comes in. I’ve been here before and it is awkward — a bit horrifying, to be completely honest. Let me give you a completely fictional, but hopefully relatable scenario:

You have a church friend named Bill who sometimes drives you crazy. He tends to be lazy and take advantage of you and others. A couple of days after a heated argument with Bill you’re “venting” to another friend, Tommy. Now Tommy isn’t a Christian and doesn’t know Bill other than your conversation about him. They’ve never met. But their paths cross a few days later when Bill applies for a job at Tommy’s company. When Tommy realizes who he is, he mentions you and some things you had told him in confidence about Bill’s work ethic. Sure, Tommy shouldn’t have said anything, but then again, neither should you (love covers a multitude of crap; 1 Peter 4:8 – Rick’s paraphrase). Now Bill and his family are angry, embarrassed, and leaving the church. They tell anyone who will listen what happened. There are so many wrongs in this scenario, but these types of situations play themselves out every day when we give into temptation.

Our sins have a way of tracking us down and being brought to the light. Humiliation is usually the least of the troubles that we face with unrepentant sin. We see the temptation coming, but instead of running from it, we run towards it as if we hadn’t learned from the last time sin burned us. Failures, moral and ethical, can be haunting until we go to the Lord in repentance. Do you want to see mountains shake and move because of your faith? Sin, hidden or overt, undermine your faith every time. So how do we stand strong against the temptations we face? What should we do so we don’t trip and fall? Exactly what Jesus did!

We see in Matthew 4 Jesus being led into the wilderness by the Holy Spirit. He fasts for forty days and nights. While doing the right things spiritually speaking, Jesus still found Himself being tempted by the devil. Look at His responses in every temptation:

Matthew 4:4
But Jesus told him, “No! The Scriptures say …

Matthew 4:7
Jesus responded, “The Scriptures also say …

Matthew 4:10
“Get out of here, Satan,” Jesus told him. “For the Scriptures say …

Yes, Jesus was tempted. Hebrews 4:15 says Jesus was tempted in all points as we are but was without sin. Do you ever wonder why we’re encouraged throughout the entirety of the bible to read, study, and meditate on the scriptures. God has given us the answer in the Answer (Jesus). It’s not enough to just busy your mind about other things to help you stop thinking about it. It’s not enough to read a self-help book. You must hide yourself in Christ; in His promise; and in His word. He made you a new creation when you trusted Him as Savior. He gave you a new heart. He broke the legal claim the devil had over you and redeemed you to Himself. You’re His. And His word will be a light to your path, and He will guard your heart and mind against the tricks of the enemy.

The temptations are deceptive ploys to pull your heart away from God. The same way the serpent said to Eve, “Did God really say that?” The temptation will make you doubt your direction and turn your affection. Your heart changes allegiance from God to yourself, and next thing you know you’re face down in the proverbial dirt wondering how you got there. The old saying is true: “Sin will take you farther than you want to go, keep you longer than you want to stay, and cost you more than you want to pay.”

I’ve discovered in my own life, regrettably, little (unrepentant) sins lead to bigger sins. You never thought you would do that [fill in the blank] and yet then you find yourself in a position of shame, guilt, and failure. A biblical example is King David with Bathsheba. David’s sinful leap most likely didn’t jump right to adultery, but led up to that point by failures in David’s life long before he saw her bathing on the roof.

As a young boy in the fields, writing songs and delighting Himself in the Lord; then taking on the giant with the heart of a warrior standing with God before him, I’m sure becoming an adulterous murderer wasn’t something he could have or would have predicted for his future. And yet Nathan boldly had to confront the king on his sins. Fortunately for Nathan, David repented.

I’ve found when I give in to sin and yield to the temptation, it’s a love issue and a trust issue. I have failed to see the amount of love God has for me and to trust Him to fight my battles for me. Instead of trusting and hiding in Him I chose to fight the battle in my own strength.  Then lost.

1 Corinthians 10:13
13 The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure. (NLT)

God loves you and has the very best for you. Learning to trust Him more, love Him more, and building that relationship with Him is vital to our walk and facing temptations. And when we do fail, don’t let condemnation keep you from Him. He’s aware of what you’ve done and is waiting for you to come to Him for restoration. Run to Him. As my pastor says, “beat the devil (the accuser) to the throne and seek His mercy and grace.”

— Pastor Rick

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