Sunday, 7 December 2008

Resisting temptation

In Matthew 26:41 Jesus commands his disciples to 'watch and pray that they enter not into temptation.' Thus it is obvious there are two tactics to beating sin and the grip of temptation...watchfulness and prayerfulness. Prayer exaplains itseslf, but what exactly does 'watchfulness' or 'keeping watch' mean?

Firstly I believe we need to keep a watch of temptation. Temptation is not a sin, thus if you feel tempted or have undergone a period of temptation in your life you may not necessarily have been in sin. Thus sin is neither good or bad. John Owen describes it as lying in the realm of 'things indifferent.' Thus if sin is indifferent it means any possession, thought, action or attitude can potentially be used in temptation and lead to sin.What can we say about watchful in all situations, be alert, be on gaurd; something that you once used for good may indeed turn a corner and be used for great evil. Temptation test us, it will either cut the meat or the throat of man...where are you going to let the knife fall?

Secondly, temptation leads to sin...thus to fight temptation we need to know our sin. John Piper says this 'There is a great self destruction that comes from not experiencing the self devastating knowledge our sin.' How do we know our sin? Well I would like to suggest we can only realise where we fall short by knowing what we fall short of. To know our sin we need to know the Saviour. By reading the Bible and experiencing the character of God, through coming to a knowledge of his holiness, the holy spirit in operation in our lives highlights areas of sin and the need for sanctification.Ever since the beginning of time God has been looking forward a people for himself who look like himself. In beating the sin we don't just need to flee the sin, we need to flee to God. To look less like our old sinful self we need to Jesus and be tranformed into his image. 1 Peter 1:16 says 'Be holy as I am holy.'

The final aspect to be watchful I would suggest is knowing the tempter. Now it is obvious from Ephesians 6 that all people are engaged in a spiritual war, some are awake to such a war others have been lulled asleep by Satan, however it is not necessarily Satan leads us into temptation and testing. Indeed temptation is neither good nor evil. From Matthew 4:1 we read that the Spirit of God leads Jesus into the desert to be tempted by Satan, thus it is obvious that God also draws us into times of testing for the producing of steadfastness and faith. Furthermore I believe there is something in our nature, something in our flesh as Paul would describe which tends toward sin. Indeed Romans 13:14 says 'Put on the Lord Jesus Christ and make no provision for the flesh to gratify its sinful desire.' Our flesh is sinful, the sin belongs to ourselves. Be on gaurd therefore, be watchful, examine yourself to see which areas of the flesh tend towards disoebedience, where temptation may take its grip.