Wow - It's been awhile. Sorry!

So, let's get started. What's temptation to you? Most of us can quickly scare up a list of the standards - Ummm, Porn, Pride, Drugs, Lying, Cheating, Stealing, Eating, etc.,

Maybe for you temptation takes the form of a Ginsu Knife - who can blame your, right? Those things cut through tin cans, tennis shoes, and then cut a tomato! So, on second thought, I'm not sure if that's temptation, or good stewardship. I can't tell you the number of times I have sliced, well actually hacked away at, my shoe, and then - with that very knife - tried to cut a tomato. It NEVER works. Not because it's not a good idea - because it is - I mean who can deny the infusion of flavor that comes from using a knife that just cut through a shoe, to slice a tomato. Just imagine the salty goodness!

Back to my original question - what is tempting to you? Actually, what is temptation to you? Bonhoeffer said that temptation is not Satan's attempt to get man to hate God - it is his attempt to get man to forget about God, if only for a second. Ouch. So, anything that can distract us from God is temptation. So, what distracts you from God?

It would seem that good things can also be temptations. What about kids? Friends? Religion? Even Bible Study? What things does our enemy use to distract you from God? What "good" things does he use to distract your from God.

That gets a lot less comfortable, doesn't it? C.S. Lewis was right in The Screwtape Letters. Demons need only keep us distracted, and they have won.

Martin Luther wrote in his classic Hymn, "A Mighty Fortress is Our God" that we are to let, "goods and kindred go..." What? Is it possible that good things and even our own family can distract us from Kingdom issues? Ummm, yeah.

Notice the piece of art from famous artist and mathematician, Albrecht Duerer. The knight is clearly beset by beings that obviously appear to be demons. They usually are a bit more undercover than that, but if we've identified them and know who they are and what they look like, we should have an easier time with them, right? It would be great if it really did work that way, wouldn't it. Truth is, we get way too familiar with some of those demons, and they actually can become friends, can't they?

The knight in this picture is not focusing on the demons, the temptations, or even the mansion on the hill. His focus is straight ahead - exactly where ours should be. We must battle distraction. We have to keep our focus on God and His Grace. Notice his helmet is acting as a blinder - In our gospel armor, he is wearing the Helmet of Salvation, and it is acting as a blinder and keeping him focused.

Do you see how our enemy works? Distraction. It's not always the big obvious temptation. It's a very slow burn when we walk away, and lose touch with the Gospel and our communities.

The good news is that Jesus understands. That' s why he gave us this marvelous model prayer in Matthew 6. "lead us not into temptation." Jesus understands temptation well as he was put through what we all go through. He took on flesh and came to walk this earth and was tempted in every way that we are. EVERY way. That has some pretty tough implications, doesn't it? Don't be afraid of that thought - embrace it and be comforted by it! Jesus was tempted in every way, but he withstood the temptation. If we have his power living in us, then what does that mean? It means we can too, through his power!

His grace is more than sufficient, if we will keep our focus set on Christ. When we take our focus off of Christ, just like Peter did when he walked out on the stormy waves, we sink. When our focus shifts off of God, bad things happen, don't they?

Notice the fact that the Knight here is not engaging the demons. He is not talking with them, he is not fighting them. He is not slowing down to look at them. What would happen if he stopped to fight the demons around him? His forward progress would be stopped! He would not be following where Christ is leading him. Isn't that true for us? SO many times we engage the temptations and distractions around us, and our forward progress in the Gospel is stopped.

Also, when we start to engage the temptations and distractions, it is not long before we lose the battle. Why? Because our focus is not where it should be - on Christ.

Never lose sight of the fact that Jesus loves you, and is still the only one that can keep us from Temptation. It's great! If he commands us to pray asking God to Lead Us Not into Temptation, then he assumes the responsibility to fulfill the prayer. How long since you really prayed that way? Maybe today is a great day to start...

6 Response to "Temptation"

  • Anonymous Says:

    Why do I somehow think the original post was probably more interesting? Do you really think God is so limited that he insists that we focus on him every possible minute? That we "resist" our temptation to focus on our family, for instance? Sheesh.

  • Tal Prince Says:

    Thanks for taking the time to comment. Let me respond to one of your questions - can't really respond to the first one.

    I don't see why you think this post limits God, or indicates that I think God is somehow limited for wanting our focus.

    Jesus responds to the question as to which is the greatest commandment in Matthew 23:36, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind."

    My overall point in this post is that temptation can come in the form of things that seem good. If you agree with Bonhoeffer's definition of temptation, that it is the enemy's attempt to get us to forget about God if even for a second, than distraction can be dangerous.

    There are so many things that we engage in on a daily basis that may seem good, but can end up being harmful, if we lose focus of God in the process.

    Worship is an ongoing act, not just a Sunday thing, right? If we are to do everything as unto the Lord, than it is possible to work, hang out with friends and family, and other things while still maintaining a focus on Christ and the Gospel.

    I realize that we're not good at this, and that's all I'm trying to point out here. I'm saying the problem is ours, not God's. He is not limited, nor does He in any way need us.

    He does desire our devotion and worship, and we are happiest if we are pursuing Him and His glory. That is because we are limited and He is not.

    The great deceiver wants us to focus on our friends, family, television, music, culture, etc., to keep us pleasantly distracted. Certainly, he uses other forms of temptation like lying, cheating, being abusive, porn, drugs, etc., but he is certainly not limited to those things.

    If we focus on our families to the point that our devotional times are lost, is that not a victory for the deceiver? Is it not so easy to do?

    We have to balance those things and when we are engaging our families and communities, we should focus on Christ and revealing his grace in those relationships. It's not either or, it's both and.

    Thanks for taking the time to write!

    Grace and Peace,

  • Anonymous Says:

    Me again. Sorry, I just believe that God is capable of much more grace that you are giving him credit for.

  • Tal Prince Says:

    Can you explain how you think this perspective limits His grace? We may have a simple misunderstanding.

    This post about how the Deceiver tries to rob our focus from God and His glory.

    Certainly when we do, God's grace is available to us, and as His children we can not lose that. His grace has no limits for us.

    Can you help me with what you mean?

  • Garrett Says:

    I like how quickly you responded to the second post from anonymous. I like this interaction.

  • Tal Prince Says:

    I do too. Interaction is fun, and very often enlightening. I wish this one would have continued.