"Keep watching and praying, that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak." Matthew 26:41
Today a good friend of mine came down to Orange County for a visit. We’ve been friends for well over a decade, so we know each other extremely well. So, I happen to know about his STRONG love for Girl Scout Cookies.
Actually, I honestly believe he’s obsessed with them. And not all of them, one kind: Lemonades.
Have you had these things?
I understand his passion.
Sinful little cookies.
Well, much to his despair they are not sold near him. So, when he came to visit I surprised him with a box to take home. He took the box from me and then quietly examined them for a moment. At first I was a little thrown by his sober response, then I realized his dilemma: he’s in the middle of fast with his church and that means, you guessed it, no sweets for the month.
He sat the box next to him as we spoke. I watched as his eyes occasionally glanced and his fingers would fiddle with its edges. Finally, picked the box up and handed it back over to me.
“Hold onto these until I’m done,” he said.
“You know, you can always hide them away at home,” I said jokingly ,but completely proud of his discipline.
He shook his head, “I’m not going to give myself the option to fail.”
Wise words indeed.
Key to this Lenten season is our commitment in dying to sin and turning away from those toxic patterns in our lives. Easier said than done, huh?
We walk away from sin with all sincerity. Yet, still feel a tugging back toward that sinful nature.
Have you ever gone fishing and watched fish after fish jump on the hook. You start to wonder about the intelligence of those fish. Didn’t they just see what happened to the other fish?
But those colorful, shiny, lures are quite effective. That’s what lures are designed to do, make death look enjoyable. That’s what temptation is to us. Temptation is designed to draw us away from God and enjoy the ride toward our own destruction.
And unfortunately, temptation is all around us. So how can we overcome?
Know your lures. In James it explains that, “temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death” (James 1:14-15). What that means is that the devil has shiny, customized lures for each of us. My friend can’t control himself around Lemonades. Well, those same Lemonades have been sitting in my cabinet for weeks before his visit and I haven’t given them a second thought. That’s not my lure. Whether it’s gambling, alcohol, sex, vanity, gluttony, greed, insecurity, bitterness, pride, etc; we need to be aware of the “chinks in our own armor” so that we can address and protect that area of vulnerability. Where are you tempted?
Avoid your lures. Like my friend said, don’t set yourself up for failure. When it comes to temptation it is not a matter of willpower. You have nothing to prove. In Ephesians 4:27, Paul says explicitly, “do not give the devil a foothold.” What does that mean? Keep the Lemonades out of the cabinet (figuratively). Intentionally eliminate any chance of your own desires grabbing hold of any part of you. That means beware of what you allow yourself to see, hear, smell, and taste. Be mindful of surroundings or people that entice you.
There are certain things I do not watch, read, or listen to. They seem harmless, but for me they are shiny lures. When a friend of mine started dating again, she would intentionally leave her bedroom disorganized when she had male company visit. For her, having her bedroom in that condition was enough to keep her in the front of the house and out of the snare of fornication. That does not make her weak, that makes her wise. It may seem extreme, but it kept her off the hook. What do you need to start avoiding?
Pray over your lures. Jesus instructed, “pray that ye enter not into temptation” (Luke 22:40). The chinks in our armor will always be there. Our flesh is irreparably weak. So, the only answer to that is to overlay our own faulty armor with the armor of God. Ephesians 6:11 tells us to “Put on the full armor of God, that you may be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.” Find scriptures related to your specific area of temptation, fill your mind with God’s word and truth, and confess victory over that area in your life. Over and over again. Do you need help praying? *If you need help finding those scriptures for you or someone else, please let me know. The victory is yours, and I’m here if you need help making it to the finish line.
Additional Reading: Matthew 4:1-111 Corinthians 10:1-13; James 1:2-4, 12, James 4:7
Let’s pray: Father God, thank You for the gift of prayer and all the blessings You pour out on us each day. I’m coming to you now because I try hard not to stumble, but when it comes to (name temptation) I find myself being tempted in ways that will lead me away from Your will. I know that it would be so easy for me to give in and stumble yet again. But today I ask for Your strength and Your guidance. I cannot make this walk alone so I pray that You will help me to avoid temptation, and I also commit to obedience in doing my part in avoiding temptation in my life. I die to my own desires right now and I ask for the same strength that kept Jesus out of temptation in the wilderness to be present with me in this moment of need. I thank You for the victory that I have through Your son, Jesus. In Your holy name, I pray. Amen.