“Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”
To become a Christian does not mean the end to temptation and sin in our lives. In some ways we become more keenly aware of them as we begin to realise just what they are and their consequences for us both individually and as a body. In addition Christianity is about living out our lives in a new way, and to the glory of God, which will necessitate new ways of thinking, speaking and acting. We will encounter opposition from both within us and around us.
Jesus Himself suffered temptations immediately after His baptism and at the beginning of His ministry. These three temptations are common to all people and our response to them sets the foundations for our way of life. Both Paul and Peter also referred to the spiritual warfare in which every Christian will be engaged in some way.
- “Put on the full armour of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.” (Ephesians 6:11)
- “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith” (1 Peter 5:8-9)
To start with we have to recognise the reality of temptation and sin. We need to acknowledge that all sin is grievous and an affront to our most holy God. It is sin that caused the fall of humankind and brought about our separation both from God and our true selves. It is for our sin that Jesus died upon the cross so that we might be able to return to the Father and enter into His presence.
For children of the Holy God sin is not to be condoned but resisted. It still affects our relationship with God and stands in the way of our living to our true potential and to His honour and glory. In fact Jesus saw it as so dangerous and life-threatening that He would counsel us to do whatever was necessary to get rid of it. Evil thoughts, attitudes, and practices must be rooted out to make room for what is holy, pure and lovely.
“If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.” (Matthew 5:29-30)
A knowledge of Scripture is essential for us to be able to recognise and expose temptation and sin. Prayer is vital as we cannot stand up to evil in our own strength, nor can we sometimes recognise it early enough. Belonging to a group of committed Christians is also important not only for participation in a common belief and way of life but also for support and encouragement when we need it. And then, if and when we fall, John reminds us,
“If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:8-9)
Examine your life – thoughts, words, deeds and relationships, regularly. Prayerfully establish and develop the foundations of your Christian character in accordance with Scripture.
Father God, please open my eyes to temptation and sin, create in me a heart that seeks only to love and glorify You, and bless, guide and strengthen me through Your Holy Spirit. Amen.