Have you ever gifted someone something that you later on asked to be returned you? Similarly, when we choose to do what we would rather do instead of letting the LORD have His way with us, it’s like we’re asking God to return the words we lifted up to Him in prayer or praise. Are you ever tempted to take back your words long after your passion for God fizzled or are you ever just tempted to live as if Jesus never touched your heart? It’s okay if you say “No, not lately”, but can you at least relate?
This post will not be what you probably expect it to be but I do have a point. I definitely had those moments when Christianity wasn’t my daily lifestyle and even a few instances years later when I finally committed. I had been so confident to say “never again” and sure enough there I’d be wishing I hadn’t made that vow whether it was because it bruised my ego or made me feel unworthy. I hated my temptations. And I can’t remember exactly what tangible thing I gave to a loved one and then took back, but I’m almost positive I’ve done it at least once as well as the fact that I’ve probably been a victim of this unfairness too.
I’ve read from a devotional a few years ago that it doesn’t matter how long a Christian has been on the journey; there will come times of temptation to want to live as one had lived before they gave their life to Christ. Satan’s good at shaking his victims around, and it begins with little nudges that become persistent overtime. HE ONLY BECOMES SUCCESSFUL WHEN YOU CONFIRM BY AGREEING WITH THE MEMORIES OF GOOD FEELINGS HE WILL BE COMFORTING AND REMINDING YOU WITH. HE WILL NUDGE YOU IN AREAS YOU HAVE GROWN STRONG IN BECAUSE IT’S THOSE PARTS OF YOUR LIFE YOU THINK YOU ARE CONFIDENT HE WILL NOT TOUCH. But you are wrong. If you’re only concerned about your weaknesses, he’s got you where he wants you — blind-sighted.
Luke 4:13 When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time.
Scary, no? But I’m not afraid. You shouldn’t either. At least not right now. God is the only One whom you must fear. It’s your fear of the LORD that gives you wisdom (Proverbs 9:10), because I believe if you fear anything else, many things will terrify you. I just know that whatever comes my way, I am a better person today than I was then, and it’s because I’ve chosen to make a habit of looking at my temptations a different way.
1 Peter 4:12 Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.
1 Corinthians 10:13 No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.
If you’ve been hating, blaming, or running away and fearing your temptations, then they can absolutely ruin you and your mental health/emotional well-being. It’s time to change our views about them. Let me explain. TEMPTATIONS ARE PART OF A HEALTHY SPIRITUAL WALK. God allows them because they contribute to how He will be disciplining you. Remember the LORD loves so much to correct wrongdoing. What parent’s love comes without discipline and how much more with the Father’s? If you recognize temptations and what its goal is, that means you acknowledge your relationship with Jesus, and so they can actually build you up so long as you respond with the right attitude.
James 1:13 When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone;
The right attitude is stepping back and paying close attention to where those temptations could possibly lead you and exactly how the outcome of giving in can mess with your thoughts and feelings later on. There would be no need for a right attitude/response if temptations do not do their part in testing you, and therefore there would be no acknowledgement of victory and moreover, growth, and furthermore, blessings and praises. So yes, God is responsible for allowing this, but He is also the one responsible for rewarding and equipping you with a little bit more confidence and resilience you can put to work the next time you are ever tempted again. But how can you teach yourself not to give in when you forget He’s already equipped you? You must practice by being thankful for them.
Here are 3 reasons to be grateful for your temptations:
- THEY BUILD YOUR CHARACTER. They help strengthen your convictions whether you give in or not. They will absolutely strengthen your convictions more than break you if after giving in to those temptations your repentance is genuine and you thanked God for that test/trial, because now you have even more hate for your sins (not temptations), and now you value obedience towards God even more.
- THEY ARE NOT SINS. They attack your mind posing as ungodly desires that have not yet become sins. Your awareness is key. The more aware you are that it is only a test/trial, the more successful you will be at remembering to surrender them to God. But the more aware you are of how good it makes you feel, then your tendency to be entertained by them will more likely lead you to commit to the next step, which is sinning.
- WITHOUT THEM DISCIPLINE HAS NO VALUE. Think about it, it’s because of where temptations have led us in the past that we choose and want to choose better for ourselves. So the more temptations you have the more God is saying “This is good for you because you will be trained by it”. The LORD’S love comes with much discipline and He sure does love us a lot!
Self-control is ineffective and not long lasting unless there was a specific moment in the temptation when the situation was handed over to God. If He was not acknowledged enough in the struggle, the habit you are trying to control will control you. “Will I choose to take God’s grace for granted or can this growth opportunity really bless me right now?”
THE LORD IS QUICK TO SHOW HIS FAVOR WHEN YOU SERVE HIM THROUGH OBEDIENCE AT THE TOUGHEST TIMES. WHY? THE LIFE OF HIS SON JESUS INSIDE YOU IS PLEASED WITH THE FREEDOM AND PEACE YOU RECEIVE. HIS JOY IS YOUR STRENGTH (Nehemiah 8:10).
Galatians 5:17 For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please.
At the moment of temptation, pay attention to where your heart leans more towards — the desire to glorify God or the desire to glorify your feelings? Remember, Satan nudges by using your feelings. Temptation becomes sin at the moment when the spirit is quenched because the flesh is fulfilled by our participation to commit. PUT YOUR FAITH ABOVE YOUR FEELINGS.
QUESTIONS TO ASK YOURSELF:
- What is something this past week or two that has really challenged my integrity?
- If I pay closer attention to any temptations around this, will it help me live with more purpose and passion? How would my life improve if I consistently prayed more about this?
- Have I been praying about this and what can I add or say differently in my prayers about this one particular temptation?
Heavenly Father, You’re so good to discipline me using my temptations. Thank you for loving me as I am and I am not even perfect. With Your guidance I know I can always improve. Each temptation is proof to me of your Grace. Forgive me for all the times I have taken your Grace for granted, for focusing on myself and my feelings every time I’ve given in instead of focusing on You. Help me to count it joy that my temptations are chances to humble myself and surrender to You who protects my integrity and my oneness with You. LORD, I ask that You guide me by reminding me of Your presence convicting me to do the right thing as I obey and glorify Your Son when I am faced with temptation again. In Jesus’ name, I pray, Amen.
By His Grace, Sheela (via sheelaleigh.com)