Monday, March 24, 2014

Temptation Can Be Your Gym

Nobody likes temptation, right? When temptation strikes it feels like everything has gone off the rails, like we're being sucked into our old ways again, and like the plane is going down... and it's discouraging. If we fail it feels like we've never really changed. Temptation stinks. 

But what if we had a different view about temptation? What if we re-framed our experience? Usually we think of temptation as being an experience of weakness. We are tempted to sin, and we give in. Satan mocks us, "WEAK."

But what if temptation was seen as an opportunity to be strengthened? Temptation sometimes can be helpful. Temptation can be used against itself, like judo, using the weight of your attacker against him. God promises that when we are tempted, He will always work to provide a way to overcome it! Paul writes about this hope in 1 Corinthians 10:13, "No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it."

God says that there is another option when we are being tempted: to endure it. Endurance requires strength. And if every time we're tempted, we end up becoming even stronger, then temptation can be transformed into being our gym. It's our training room, every rep of thwarted temptation is one more step to becoming spiritually ripped. And as we succeed in fighting temptation, there are three ways temptation can paradoxically be USEFUL:

  1. Temptation can be useful as a wake-up callIt's like getting slapped when you're sleeping, and it suddenly wakes you up. Temptation can provide a similar effect, as if it screams to us, "HELLO!? YOU'RE IN A BATTLE. WAKE UP AND FIGHT!" Temptation can remind you to sober up and wage war. Temptation can remind you to pray, to pursue the lord, and to depend on Him to rescue you. 
  2. Temptation can be useful as a strengthener: In order to win, we must flex the muscle of our faith. We must CHOOSE to believe the promises of God are BETTER than the promises of this temptation in this moment. As we believe God in the moment of weakness, this sharpens our mind and grows our character. It strengthens the muscles of faith. And we'll be able to face the temptation even better next time, because we're trained and ready. 
  3. Temptation can be useful as a reminder to help others:  When you're being tempted, why not use it as an opportunity to reach out to OTHER brothers and sisters who might be tempted, maybe even in the same way? Check in with others to see how their own temptation is going. For instance: If it's midnight and you're tempted to look at porn, text or call a brother who probably also is going through the same temptation. Strength in numbers!! Fight shoulder to shoulder, and encourage one another that Jesus is BETTER
Growing stronger,
The Relentless Fight