Week of July 11
I don't think I've ever wanted to murder anyone. I've never worshiped an idol. Adultery hasn't been a stumbling block for me. Why would I want to steal from someone? Such big sins don't bother me.
Most of us who seek to follow the leadership of Jesus Christ discover that the big lures tend to disappear. It's the little traps that we stumble into.
One of my little struggles is that I tend to ignore the warning signs of past experiences, cautions in the Bible, or the restraining hand of God. I'm amazed (in retrospect) how easily I convince myself to say a certain thing or act a certain way as a means of standing up for myself or being honest, or being faithful to point out another's shortcomings. Once in a while, I've quoted Bible verses to show my righteousness and purity of heart.
And yet ... I still give in to temptations.
No one has to tell me that I sin with my tongue. It's too quick to speak, and too slow to pause. Then why haven't I corrected it?
First, of course, is the old standby excuse of innate sin. I'm a sinner by nature, and I'll always be a sinner. I may get better, and by God's grace, I'll grow, but committing sin will always be part of me. Although true, it's no excuse for irresponsibility.
A far stronger reason is that I get confused between what I need and what I think I need. For instance, when King Ahab wanted to buy a certain vineyard and the owner refused to sell, he fell into deep depression. As king he probably had hundreds of vineyards, but he had to have that particular one. Its importance grew until he convinced himself he couldn't be happy without owning that piece of land.
"Hey, man, you're the king," his wife told him. "You can do what you want." She arranged for a couple of thugs to accuse the owner of a crime, she had him stoned, and the crown took over the property.
What about David and his sin with Bathsheba? If any man in the Bible knew the way of God, it was David, but even he allowed his desires to do his thinking for him. He may have had some unmet needs. Probably all of us think we do. Those are the things that get us into trouble, and sometimes we surrender to temptation. Yet as the Victor Over Temptation shows us our particular areas of weakness, we can resist the subtle lures around us.
As I have discussed this matter with the Victor, he has given me some insight about myself. It's more truthful to say, he's forced me to admit things about myself in recent days. Here's what I've learned. I know I'm a helper. People depend on me, talk to me, and open up to me. Sounds good and noble, doesn't it?
The Victor Over Temptation has been enabling me see my underside, and I've finally begun to admit I feel pride in being needed and being indispensable. To please others, I've adapted to their demands and wishes. Especially in the past, I found it difficult to recognize my own lack because I spent so much energy in being needed. Unconsciously, I change my perspective to become empathetic and make emotional connections. Sometimes I adapt to the wishes of others as a way to gain or retain their love.
Until a few months ago, I lived in ignorance of those facts. As I continue to ask the Victor Over Temptation for help, however, I see myself more clearly. With God's help, I can find freedom from such traps.
The more I know about myself, and the more I'm in touch with the Victor, the more assured I become that I have the best weapons for defense. Those weapons are simple, yet they're effective only when we learn to use them.
First, I pray. More and more, I realize the importance of the words: "Keep us from being tempted and protect us from evil" (Mt 6:13, CEV). I keep that petition before me because I want God to show me the areas where I'm susceptible. As the Victor Over Temptation shows me my inner self, I often resist the truth. Yet as I ask him to enable me to be open and I listen, I also fortify myself to win the next battle.
Second, I'm reading more in my Bible. That's the most powerful way God speaks to me. I'll read along and a verse takes on power as if I'd never read it before.
Here's one example. I was involved in a controversy in a writers' organization. One day when I was reading in Romans, my eyes stopped at this verse: "If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men" (12:18, MKJV). The verse shouted inside my head. I read it two or three times. By then, I knew I had to do something to bring peace. I reexamined my position and realized my hidden needs had subverted my zeal for integrity. Once I backed up two steps, those on the other side did the same. We came to a place of peace.
That's the practical working of the Victor Over Temptation in my life. He helps me see not just the wrong and stupid things I've done; he's also helping me look below my actions and attitudes to figure out why I failed.
As I thought of this, I recalled a prominent pastor involved in an adulterous situation. He had sinned. At the same time, as I understand my proclivity to temptation, I'm learning to understand others. I wondered what kind of unfulfilled needs he had. If he had been able to talk to the Victor about those deep inner needs, he might have overcome the temptation.
No single temptation strikes all of us. As we open ourselves to the Victor over Temptation, we can begin to understand our own inner driving forces that might ensnare us. Then comes victory.
As I become aware of my personal temptations, and as I call on the Victor Over Temptation, I know that I'm going to sin.
Even if you think you can stand up to temptations, be careful not to fall. You are tempted in the same way that everyone else is tempted. But God can be trusted not to let you be tempted too much, and he will show you how to escape from your temptations. --1 Corinthians 10:12-16, CEV
Victor Over Temptation,
with your help I can win.
With your help
I can find answers and satisfy those hurting,
needy parts of my life.
With your help
I can win time after time against temptations.
Thanks for providing the way of escape. Amen.
For more from Cec, please visit www.cecilmurphey.com.
Cecil Murphey has written more than one hundred books on a variety of topics with an emphasis on Spiritual Growth, Christian Living, Caregiving, and Heaven. He enjoys preaching in churches and speaking and teaching at conferences around the world. To book Cec for your next event, please contact Twila Belk at 563-332-1622.