June 17, 2018 - Inscriptions From The Heart
June 17, 2018
“Can a man scoop a flame into his lap and not have his clothes catch on fire? Can he walk on hot coals and not blister his feet?” Proverbs 6:27-28 NLT
“The prudent sees the evil and hides himself, but the naive go on, and are punished for it.” Proverbs 22:3
Have you ever watched a horror movie and yelled at the characters for being crazy and running headlong into places that are sure to give them trouble (and the viewers a jump scare)? For some reasons these people are always sneaking into abandoned prisons or houses, walking towards unusual noises instead of running far, far away, and making all manners of reckless decisions. As we watch in the comfort of our own living room couch with multiple blankets wrapping (and protecting) us, we think how we would be a lot smarter than the characters and run the complete opposite direction from danger.
It's ironic then that many Christians are the epitome of the foolish horror movie character when it comes to facing sin. When Satan tempts us with something we know we are weak against, often we overestimate our ability to resist the sin. We convince ourselves that yes, this will be the day when I can “stand firm” and resist the lure of the enemy. Some of us even kid ourselves enough to think that we can walk towards the temptation and be immune to its pull with the help of God. Now, I'm not saying that this is impossible; nothing is impossible with God, especially when it comes to conquering sin. The Holy Spirit living in us absolutely gives us the power to lead holy, blameless lives that are pleasing to God. Unfortunately for us, we still have to contend with the flesh (our sinful nature) while we're here on earth. Paul says in Romans 7:23:
“But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me.”
Even though every Christian is indwelt by the Holy Spirit and has been given a new, spiritual nature in Him, we do not lose our old sinful nature until we see Jesus again in heaven. Paul succinctly describes the conflict within Christians in Romans 7:15, when he says, “I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate.”
When it comes to resisting temptation, many of us equate “standing firm” with “standing still”; in the same spot, with the temptation still conveniently in reach. We believe ourselves capable of facing down our vices and defeating the desire to indulge in them even as they are easily within our grasp. More often than not, our sinful nature wins out and we end up losing to the enemy and giving in. I love the irony in God’s wisdom in that, in order to stand firm against temptation, He commands us to flee, hide, run away! It may seem counterintuitive to run when we're called to stand firm, but the beauty of God's wisdom is that it almost always runs opposite to the so-called “wisdom” of the world. God knows the duality of the natures that exist within believers, and so to protect us, He commands us not to play with the fire but, instead, run in the opposite direction.
As we run in the opposite direction away from temptation, we naturally run towards something else. Paul tells us what that should be in 2 Timothy 2:22:
“Now flee from youthful lusts and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.”
I pray that as Christians, we hold God’s wisdom dear to our heart, recognize the very real danger inherent in temptation, and run! Let us live as people controlled by the Holy Spirit, surrendered to His will and able to stand firm against the schemes of the enemy.