Sunday, 22 September 2019

Enduring Temptations

Scripture: James 1 v 12 - 16: "Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.
13  Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: 
14  But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.
15  Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.
16  Do not err, my beloved brethren."

One of the ways that the Lord Jesus Christ determines our love for Him is when we resist temptation no matter how long the enemy persists with it.

Isaiah 59 v 19: "So shall they fear the name of the LORD from the west, and his glory from the rising of the sun. When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the LORD shall lift up a standard against him."

Indeed, when the enemy tries to overwhelm us, the Holy Spirit within us raises up a standard, a flag or banner, against him.  We don't see what the enemy sees written on this banner, but he sees the writing on the wall and gives up the torment.  We can rejoice and praise and thank Jesus for whatever creative slogan was written on that banner.

Perhaps Jesus would write, this one is like Job!  Of all the characters in the Bible, Job is renowned for patient endurance under immense pressure and all his friends urging him to give in to the enemy.  Job told them what he thought of them and never let God down.  He was very well rewarded for his faithfulness.

We are constantly being tempted by the world that uses devious means to sell its wares.  Even hidden methods that tweak our curiosity and lead us astray at times.  To repeat the verses in James 1.....

14  But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.
15  Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.

This is the pattern and danger of giving in to temptation...the end result is death!  It may not be immediate death, it may be far off, but it will happen.

Every cigarette packet in South Africa comes with dire consequences of what smoking does to the throat, mouth, lungs of those who indulge.  It deters very few who even find it a challenge.  Until the day they realise those words are true.  That's when many come seeking an answer from God as all the answers of the world are that the end is nigh.

There is a man who travelled here from overseas to receive help for alcoholism.  He had been passed out drunk nearly every night for 18 years.  Never able to be a father to his children, or useful to any in that state.  Every worldly rehab had no answers for him.  After being here about ten days without touching a drop of alcohol, he realised that he would have to be delivered of evil spirits.  There was no way he would submit to that.  No way.  

He stayed the full 6 weeks and lapsed twice, once a week later, once at OR Tambo airport in Johannesburg on his way home.  From then on he returned to his old ways even worse than before.  Prayer continued from all around the globe.  He said, I plan to drink myself to death, leave me alone.

In February I had a dream of this man dressed in royal blue clothes, boarding a royal blue train, sitting in cinema-like seats, also royal blue, with some others.  I sent a whatsapp of this dream to his mother who had accompanied him to South Africa.  I did not know what it meant, nor did she.  She had not seen nor heard much from her son since their return.

About three weeks later she sent me an audio message that her son had been totally free of alcohol for 20 days.  On checking back it was from the day following that strange dream.  And he is still free of alcohol today, although it is not spoken of, nor do we know what caused him to stop.  Whatever royal blue flag Jesus raised against Satan, it stopped that temptation completely.  We call it a miracle.  We give all the glory to God and our hearts are full of praise and thankfulness.

Lust is a huge problem in the world and it is on constant display through cinema, tv, cell phones, laptops, books, periodicals, advertisements, sporting lockerrooms, at schools, in fact everywhere.  
In Matthew 5 v 27 - 29: "Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery:
28  But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.
29  And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell."

These are the words of Jesus in His Sermon on the Mount.  He says if you even look at a woman in a strip club, or on the pages of Playboy, or porn on your phone or laptop, and feel lustful, you have committed adultery.  It's better to be blind than end up in Hell.

Jesus came to save us from Hell.  Whatever takes us there He warned us so we would avoid that horrible consequence.  Like the cigarette packets it goes unheeded.  The lie Satan told Eve,  "Surely God wouldn't....." keeps many believing that they can get away with it.

Genesis 3 v 4 - 5: "And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die:
5  For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil."

And she believed him! And Adam believed her! And Pandora's Box was opened on planet Earth.  If they had resisted that temptation completely none of the evil fruit would have been seen here.  But now we have to resist and James has the perfect formula for resistance.

James 4 v 7 - 10: "Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
8  Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.
9  Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness.
10  Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up."

This is true repentance and it will be a standard in your life going forward.  Chuck out, delete, cleanse your home and life of lust and you will find real love.

2 Corinthians 7 v 8 - 10: "For though I made you sorry with a letter, I do not repent, though I did repent: for I perceive that the same epistle hath made you sorry, though it were but for a season.
9  Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance: for ye were made sorry after a godly manner, that ye might receive damage by us in nothing. 
10  For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death."

These words of Paul would lead to us bringing forth the fruits of repentance which is holy living, pure minds, rejection of evil and will be replaced by the love, mercy and goodness of Jesus.  That's what sets saints apart from sinners.  Sinners see a difference in you and there are some who long for the same change in themselves.  It sets them on their own journey towards the righteousness of Jesus.

Prayer:  Heavenly Father, we want to be like Jesus.  We follow Him so we can become holy and full of grace, so that we can be a blessing to You, O God.  Father, take this life that I offer You and bring me to the fullness of Jesus Christ.  Lead Us not into temptation.  In Jesus' name. Amen.