A Springboard for You

For a better life and a better eternity

What I’ve Learned about Preparing for Temptation: Part 1

 

“I can overcome anything except temptation.” An overly used one-liner and yet overly used because it is overly true. It certainly has been overly true in my life. With that in mind, I want to share with you what helps me face the daily battle, what helps me prepare for Satan’s attacks. This is the first part in what looks like will be a four part series on how to prepare for temptation. Of course, who knows what I might learn over the next several days that gets added in. I hope it helps.

 

 

Preparing for Temptation: Part 1

Regrettably, the “Just Say No” tactic that sounds so good in the safety of our assemblies doesn’t always hold water when we are face to face with Satan’s weapons on the battlefield. We need some real help to overcome temptation. What should we do? Like any battle, without preparation, we will fall. There are several things we must do to prepare; in this article, I want to share two—Repentance and Confession.

The first thing we have to do is Repent. II Corinthians 7:10 says, “For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret…” (ESV). We have already sinned (Romans 3:23). This isn’t about getting perfect people to stay perfect, but helping sinful people avoid future sin. Without repentance, the battle is already lost.

Repentance is a change of mind leading to a change of action. If we still think some sin is alright, not that bad, not a big deal, a social faux pas, a mistake or any other mitigated concept, change of action will not take place. Only when we mourn our actions and change our minds will we overcome temptation. As long as I believe there’s not really anything wrong with having bitterness, wrath or clamor toward my wife and kids, I will not stop. Oh, I may white-knuckle it for a while to please other people, but it will always creep back in. I must rethink my sins and see how bad they really are.

At the same time, I also need to Confess. I John 1:9 says if we confess our sins, God will forgive us. Forgiveness is a prerequisite to salvation, but that is not why I bring it up. Confession literally means to say the same thing as. In spiritual things, it means to say the same thing as God about something. Thus, confessing my sins to God is not merely admitting I sinned. Confessing means verbalizing exactly what God thinks about the sin.

If I want to overcome sin in the future, I have to get God’s view of something entrenched in my head. I have to see it the way God sees it. I have to speak about it the way God speaks about it. When I confess my sins to God, I’m agreeing with Him. I am communing with His mind. I am connecting with His thoughts and ways. The point is not that we have to hit a checklist of confession for each sin to be saved. The point is working through the exercise of seeing what God sees and thinking like God thinks is necessary if I want to live God’s way.

If I don’t repent of and confess my sins, I won’t make it when the temptation hits again. So let’s start here. Be honest. What are your sins? What does God say about them? What are you going to say about them? Feel free to write out the list and work through them one by one. God will help. God will forgive. You will grow.

May God richly bless you as you draw closer to Him.
More importantly, may you richly bless God.

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August 23, 2008 Posted by | Christian living, Overcoming Sin, Preparing for Temptation | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A New Take On Knowing When to Apologize

For the longest time I have struggled with Matthew 5:23-26:

So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison. Truly, I say to you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny (ESV).

My struggle? Exactly when do I have to make amends? If I want to avoid “prison,” when do I actually have to let someone know I was wrong, apologize and make amends?

Lately, however, I have had a completely different approach. I have realized my past struggle had everything out of whack. I was looking for a line to be good enough to get into heaven because I achieved some kind of good enough checklist obedience to this apology clause in God’s constitution. Therefore, I never drew the line at the right place.

Why do I need to make amends like this? Not because there is some kind of law that says in certain cases God requires I go apologize and make amends. Rather, because in my heart, I know when I have done wrong. That establishes a discordant cycle of guilt. Even if someone else has wronged me, when I have done wrong, I feel it. Something has to be done with that guilt. It won’t just sit there long. It starts to eat at me. It produces shame, the feeling that says not only did I do something wrong but I keep doing things wrong because something is wrong with me. Then I start giving up.

Or the guilt takes me another direction. If I don’t deal with the guilt God’s way by making amends and seeking reconciliation, Satan convinces me to deal with it his way. As with Eve, he convinces me if I eat some of the forbidden fruit, I will feel better. I will have internal peace and contentment. To escape the guilt, shame and pain of the past wrong, I end up sinning more. Of course, that only produces more of the same discordant guilt.

I break this cycle by not worrying about if God has absolutely required I make this particular amends and just make the amends. When I admit my wrong, apologize and ask for forgiveness, it releases the guilt. It allows me to connect with other people and it sets me free to reconnect with God.

Do you absolutely have to make that amends in order to dot all the i’s and cross all the t’s and obey enough to get into heaven? Does it matter? Just make the amends anyway. I know this, you’ll certainly be right with God if you take that approach. 

May God richly bless you as you draw closer to Him.
More importantly, may you richly bless God.

ELC

July 26, 2008 Posted by | Christian living, Forgiveness, Relationships | , , , , , | 3 Comments