I know the areas in my life that when tempted draw me away from Christ. It is a constant battle for me: falling into sin, repenting, and sinning again. My sincere desire is to glorify God in every area of my life. But, willingly submitting to Him all of these bittersweet sinful niceties is a challenge for me. My prayer is to stop the cycle at the point of temptation and consciously not sin consistently. I want my decision to be made with the right motives, reasons, and my heart focused on Christ.
I notice that when my private time with Him in prayer and study of the Word is compromised; when I am tempted I fall more enthusiastically. I also notice that when my prayer life is in order but I am not studying the Word; when I am tempted I fall more keenly. I know that I need both the Word and praying within the Will of God without fail to keep my feet from sinning. However, I find myself not doing what I know will keep my eyes on Him. And, sometimes I do not even reach out to other Saints for encouragement, burden sharing, or love in the midst of my cycle.
The Bible tells me that “the temptations in [my] life [are] no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than [I] can stand. When [I am] tempted, he will show [me] a way out so that [I] can endure” (1 Corinthians 10:13). There are times in my life that I did not even attempt to keep from sinning. I simply give in to the temptation. Let’s face it, we sin for instant gratification because it “makes us happy” or meets an immediate, selfish need whether it’s stealing, lust, telling someone off or something else. But, how do we endure for Christ’s sake in the face of our weaknesses?
Recognizing that none of us is exempt from temptation and all of us are struggling with something whether public or private is essential to understanding that we do not have to hide in shame or cower in defeat by ourselves. We have a support network to tap into! If I am serious about overcoming the obstacles that separate me from God, then I must be willing to draw upon the strength of fellow Christians who share their testimonies, intercede on my behalf, and to whom I am accountable.
Not to mention, because of God’s faithfulness I know that He will give me an escape when I am tempted. It is my responsibility to be discerning enough to identify the getaway when God presents it no matter how determined I am to indulge in my sin. For me, this is always a clear indication of how much more I need to grow every time I succumb to my sinful desires. And, long periods of not indulging in a particular sin is not an indicator of victory over that sin especially when in the face of temptation I fall right back into my old sinful patterns.
To endure means “to undergo [something] as a hardship especially without giving in” (Webster.com). Many of us Christians convince ourselves that to be deprived of our bittersweet nicety would indeed be a hardship. But we must endure because “God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. And remember, when you are being tempted, do not say, ‘God is tempting me.’ God is never tempted to do wrong, and he never tempts anyone else. Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away” (James 1:12-14).
I thank God for grace and mercy because I still have a lot of dying to self to do. The "happiness" of submitting to my desires immediately dissipates as I realize how far I have moved away from God. I do not like operating/living outside of His will and the hatred of doing what I knew was not pleasing to Him always forces me to my knees pleading for forgiveness. Thank you, Father, for the gift of your Son who has paid the price for all of my sins. Thank you for Your Spirit that is the source of power that enables me to overcome and get back in right fellowship with You. Amen.