The Discipline of not Looking

Don't Look

It does not take long to notice that we are surrounded and bombarded with things pertaining to sexual sin. This reality places us in the midst of a battle that is not easy at all. We not only have to face daily temptations from within our own minds, but we have to deal with the billboards, the advertisements and the clothes (or lack of) people are wearing. Continue reading The Discipline of not Looking

Life and Temptation

Temptation

Life is filled with temptations. These temptations can be small and they can be substantial. Temptation that you experience may be a real trial for you, but for others it may be merely trivial, and vice versa. What is it that causes such a struggle within us when it comes to temptation? It would be easy a natural tendency of people is to shift the blame away from themselves. We may blame the environment we are in, the upbringing we had or even our personality type. The problem with doing this is that we are wrongly diagnosing the problem therefore don’t receive the biblical solution. The reality is that there is a deeper and more potent source causing the lure to temptation. What is it? Before we consider some specific strategies on fighting temptation, I want to briefly consider the source and sequence of temptation from . 

THE SOURCE OF TEMPTATION
James makes it clear that God is not the source of our temptation. He cannot be tempted because He has no capacity or vulnerability to temptation (; ; ) and therefore He does not tempt (). So then, where does temptation come from? says, “But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire“. He illustrates the source of temptation with fishing metaphors. Like a fish that is enticed by the bait and then lured away, we fall into temptation when our “own desire” drags us to the bait. The problem is within us (cf. ). Again, notice that the text says, “his own desire“. We all have different tendencies, which come from our different upbringings and personal choices in life. One person’s temptation isn’t always the same as an others. Nonetheless they are still real.

THE SEQUENCE OF TEMPTATION
Consider the sequence of temptation. In , James changes metaphors from fishing to gestation (“Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death“). “Desire” represents the mother and its child is “sin“. The gestation period of a human is nine months, whereas the gestation process of temptation instantaneous. Once mother “desire” has given birth to her child “sin“, it grows, and if allowed to become mature it “brings forth death“. The apostle Paul said on the same lines, “the wages of sin is death” (). Sin should not become the object of our entertainment. The results of allowing our desires to conceive are devastating, and must be avoided.

James concludes this section with a firm yet pastoral warning, “do not be deceived, my beloved brothers” (). It is not God who brings such evils in our life; the problem is with our own desires. Though we may find ourselves in a difficult and trying situation, we are to inform our desires so as to trust God. In the words of the great puritan pastor-theologian John Owen,

Temptations and occasions put nothing into a man, but only draw out what was in him before”.

13 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. 14 But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. 15 Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.

For you are not a God who delights in wickedness;
evil may not dwell with you.

And one called to another and said:

“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts;
the whole earth is full of his glory!”

Why do you make me see iniquity,
and why do you idly look at wrong?
Destruction and violence are before me;
strife and contention arise.

13 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one.

14 But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire.

19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander.

15 But Peter said to him, “Explain the parable to us.”

23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

16 Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers.

A Word to those who are Single III: Challenges of being Single

Single - challenges

Sure, being single has it advantages, but it also has it challenges. Those that aren’t single can tend to think that because people are not married they are carefree and don’t have a worry in the world. It certainly is true that singles don’t have the same responsibilities or concerns as married people, but there are unique challenges for those who are single. I believe we all need to be sensitive to this and provide support and prayer for those who are single.

What are the challenges of being single? I think there could be many answers to this practical question, but I will confine myself to two broad challenges that cover many issues.

Sexual Desire

Firstly, there is the temptation of sexual desire (). Sexual temptation is not limited to those who are single, but the temptation singles face is particular to their situation. Sexual desire is natural; however it is God’s will that it take place in the confines of marriage as defined and regulated by God’s Word (; ). Let’s be frank, sex is a gift from God. But sex occurs outside of the marriage between one man and one woman it is sin (sexual immorality). Now all singles (satisfied and struggling) will face the temptation of sexual desire. However, if this temptation becomes too much it is clear that the individual is not gifted to remain single and they should prepare to marry. Here is what Paul said on this matter,

“Now concerning the matters about which you wrote: ‘It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman.’ But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband” ().

A few verses later Paul again commends the state of being single (), however, he is quick to say, “But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion” (). Paul is not saying that marriage is to be viewed simply as an outlet for sexual passion – it is far more than that. Marriage is an arena for procreation (Gen. 1:28), pleasure (Proverbs 5:18-19), partnership (Gen. 2:18) and productivity (Gen. 1:28). What Paul is saying in this text is that if you are not gifted to be single you should marry. The sexual desires you have are to be fulfilled within the confines of marriage. This does not mean that Christian singles should marry the next available person they find! Discernment and biblical principles need to be applied (more on the criteria of finding a future spouse in a forthcoming post). Furthermore, struggling singles must also deal with their desires biblically (). Sin is never to be excused because of one’s state. This means you are to be pure in thought and deed.

Loneliness

Secondly, there is the issue of feeling lonely. A married couple has each other to support, encourage, build up, care for and protect. When you are single, it is just you. The reality is, at times being single can be a very lonely experience. For some singles, loneliness is not too much of an issue and they are quite content in not joining their lives with another individual in marriage. If you are single and content in not getting married, don’t allow this to become an excuse to become a hermit and neglect fellowship with God’s people. On the other hand, if you are feeling lonely, make sure you surround yourself with the people of God. One of the gifts that God gives to His people is that He has made them a part of the body of Christ (). You are not the only believer! This is why it is important to be part of a local church that is committed to the Word of God and loves the fellowship of God’s people (). But when you are alone, understand that God knows your struggle (; ).  Look to Him and seek His comfort knowing that He loves you (), is with you () and has you on the appointed pathway for His purpose and your final good ().

Knowing then that being single has certain challenges, if you are considering the option of remaining single, it is important that you discern if this is indeed God’s calling on your life. Remaining single is a gift from God () and though it is a valid state it is not the norm. It is the clear teaching of Scripture that if you are not gifted in this area then you ought to marry (). In the next two posts, I will look at how both satisfied and struggling singles should be living their lives now. Also, the issue of desiring to marry (even though there may not be any options) will also be addressed.

But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband.

1 Corinthians 7:9

But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion.

24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.

Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous.

7:1 Now concerning the matters about which you wrote: “It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman.” But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband.

To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is good for them to remain single as I am.

But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion.

For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality;

13 For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.

42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.

139:1 O Lord, you have searched me and known me!
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
you discern my thoughts from afar.
You search out my path and my lying down
and are acquainted with all my ways.
Even before a word is on my tongue,
behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.
You hem me in, behind and before,
and lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
it is high; I cannot attain it.

20 for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything.

10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

I wish that all were as I myself am. But each has his own gift from God, one of one kind and one of another.

To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is good for them to remain single as I am. But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion.

But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband.

1 Corinthians 7:9

But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion.

A Word to those who are Single II: Advantages of being Single

Advantages of being Single

Though being single is not superior to being married (nor is being married superior to being single), singleness does contain certain advantages that marriage doesn’t have. In Paul has a lengthy discussion that provides advantages of being single. This passage can be summarized by two advantages: Less Distress and Unbroken Devotion.

Less Distress
First, being single will contain less distress than those who are married (). Paul states, “I think that in view of the present distress it is good for a person to remain as he is” (). What is the “present distress” Paul spoke of? It has been suggested that this may be a reference to a particular famine the Corinthian’s were experiencing, others see this as an anticipation for difficult events occurring before the Second Coming or to other anticipated events of distress. Others like John Calvin interpret this as the incessant harassments believers experience in the present life.[1] Either way, the principal to be drawn from this text is that in the midst of hard times, being single will have certain advantages. However, this does not mean married people should seek to be released from their commitment to one another during tough times – they must remain ().

The fact that singleness carries the advantage of less distress, this of course does not imply marriage is wrong. Paul goes on to say, “But if you do marry, you have not sinned, and if a betrothed woman marries, she has not sinned. Yet those who marry will have worldly troubles, and I would spare you that” (). Again, his point is that those who marry will carry additional pressures that a single person won’t. John MacArthur observes,

“Marriage involves conflicts, demands, hardships, sacrifices, and adjustments that singleness does not. Marriage is ordained of God, good, holy, and fulfilling; but it does not solve all problems. It brings more.”[2]

So if you are single, you have a particular advantage in your service to the Lord that a married person doesn’t have. Because you are caring and looking after yourself, you are more able and free to serve the Lord without the distress and pressures of looking after a spouse. While you are single, make use of this providential advantage.

Unbroken Devotion
A second advantage of being single provides the individual with the opportunity to display unbroken devotion in their service to the Lord (). It is easier for single people to give themselves to undistracted service to the Lord because they don’t have the same responsibilities as a married person in caring for their spouse and children. You are able to assist with church events more readily than a married person. You can meet with others for prayer and study more readily than a married person can.

These two advantages don’t suggest that singles don’t experience distress and that married people can’t be devoted to the Lord’s service. The main point here is that there is a huge difference in degree. A single person will experience pressure and distress but the individual is only dealing with their own life. Whereas those that are married are dealing with two lives (and more if there are children).

If you are single, you have a unique opportunity to be free to engage and serve in activities in the Lord’s service without neglecting a spouse or children. You are able to give of your time more freely to the glory of God and the benefit of the church. Whether you are a satisfied single or a struggling single, this season is a providential opportunity for faithful service to the glory of God. Don’t waste your time asking what if questions or spending all your spare hours in immature activities that don’t profit the kingdom of God. Use your singleness to the glory of God! In my next post, we will consider the challenges of being single.


[1] John Calvin, Calvin’s Commentaries, Volume XX, Baker Books, 2003, 253.

[2] John F. MacArthur, The MacArthur New Testament Commentary: 1 Corinthians, Moody Press, 1984, 181.

25 Now concerning the betrothed, I have no command from the Lord, but I give my judgment as one who by the Lord’s mercy is trustworthy. 26 I think that in view of the present distress it is good for a person to remain as he is. 27 Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be free. Are you free from a wife? Do not seek a wife. 28 But if you do marry, you have not sinned, and if a betrothed woman marries, she has not sinned. Yet those who marry will have worldly troubles, and I would spare you that. 29 This is what I mean, brothers: the appointed time has grown very short. From now on, let those who have wives live as though they had none, 30 and those who mourn as though they were not mourning, and those who rejoice as though they were not rejoicing, and those who buy as though they had no goods, 31 and those who deal with the world as though they had no dealings with it. For the present form of this world is passing away.

32 I want you to be free from anxieties. The unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to please the Lord. 33 But the married man is anxious about worldly things, how to please his wife, 34 and his interests are divided. And the unmarried or betrothed woman is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to be holy in body and spirit. But the married woman is anxious about worldly things, how to please her husband. 35 I say this for your own benefit, not to lay any restraint upon you, but to promote good order and to secure your undivided devotion to the Lord.

36 If anyone thinks that he is not behaving properly toward his betrothed, if his passions are strong, and it has to be, let him do as he wishes: let them marry—it is no sin. 37 But whoever is firmly established in his heart, being under no necessity but having his desire under control, and has determined this in his heart, to keep her as his betrothed, he will do well. 38 So then he who marries his betrothed does well, and he who refrains from marriage will do even better.

39 A wife is bound to her husband as long as he lives. But if her husband dies, she is free to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord. 40 Yet in my judgment she is happier if she remains as she is. And I think that I too have the Spirit of God.

25 Now concerning the betrothed, I have no command from the Lord, but I give my judgment as one who by the Lord’s mercy is trustworthy. 26 I think that in view of the present distress it is good for a person to remain as he is. 27 Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be free. Are you free from a wife? Do not seek a wife. 28 But if you do marry, you have not sinned, and if a betrothed woman marries, she has not sinned. Yet those who marry will have worldly troubles, and I would spare you that. 29 This is what I mean, brothers: the appointed time has grown very short. From now on, let those who have wives live as though they had none, 30 and those who mourn as though they were not mourning, and those who rejoice as though they were not rejoicing, and those who buy as though they had no goods, 31 and those who deal with the world as though they had no dealings with it. For the present form of this world is passing away.

26 I think that in view of the present distress it is good for a person to remain as he is.

27 Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be free. Are you free from a wife? Do not seek a wife.

28 But if you do marry, you have not sinned, and if a betrothed woman marries, she has not sinned. Yet those who marry will have worldly troubles, and I would spare you that.

32 I want you to be free from anxieties. The unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to please the Lord. 33 But the married man is anxious about worldly things, how to please his wife, 34 and his interests are divided. And the unmarried or betrothed woman is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to be holy in body and spirit. But the married woman is anxious about worldly things, how to please her husband. 35 I say this for your own benefit, not to lay any restraint upon you, but to promote good order and to secure your undivided devotion to the Lord.

A Word to those who are Single I: Concerning Singleness

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The Internet is filled with various “helps” for singles meeting singles. Among many in society and the church there appears to be this false notion that there is something wrong with being single. This false notion leads to an obsession where people try to mix and match people while disregarding their situation. Sadly, there are a number of silly expectations placed on those who are single and strange conclusions concerning their singleness. It doesn’t help when people look at those who are single and ask questions like, “I wonder what is wrong with that person?” Granted, being single means different things for different people. For some, the condition of being single is satisfying whereas for others it is a struggle (more on these descriptions in a later post).

When it comes to being single, there are different kinds of singleness. There are those who are gifted and called to be single (). There are those who are single but desire to marry. There are those who are single because they have lost their spouse through death or even divorce (). Then there is an additional category where people are single because they elevate celibacy as being most spiritual of states. This final category is unbiblical and to be completely rejected.

Does the Bible address the issue of singleness? Yes it does! In a series of posts I would like to look at what Scripture has to say on this topic of singleness. We will consider the advantages and challenges of being single. Then we will examine some biblical principles for the satisfied singles and the struggling singles. In this introductory post I will briefly look at the condition of singleness and provide some biblical understanding for those who are single.

Many view the single as a poor, miserable and pitied group. Is this fair? I don’t think so. Being single is a valid status, as long as it is in conformity to the principles found in God’s Word. In response to a particular question in his letter to the Corinthians, Paul stated, “It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman” (). Here Paul is simply making the point that being single is a valid and commendable option for an individual (cf. ). Of course, this state must be marked by purity (“not to have sexual relations“). This does not mean Paul viewed marriage as inferior to being single. In the very next verse () Paul argues that if someone is not able to remain in the state of celibacy because of sexual temptation, it is better for him or her to marry (see also ). Furthermore, Paul taught that those who forbid marriage are apostates () and in his letter to the Ephesians he upheld the importance of marriage by identifying it as a picture of Christ and the church (). Paul had a high view of marriage but he did not relegate singles to second-class citizens. Both states are honorable if they are in conformity to the Word of God.

Being single is not to be placed in the category of a person with some problem. No, being single is a commendable and valid state whether it is temporary or permanent depending on the situation. History is filled with examples of believers who were single and yet faithful in their service to the Lord, like the apostle Paul, David Brainerd, Amy Carmichael and Mary Slessor. We could also form a long list of those who were single due to the death of their spouse and rendered exemplary service to the Lord. Of course, the greatest of all examples of an individual that was single and most faithful is the Lord Jesus Christ. You cannot improve on that!

If you are a Christian and single, don’t despair. Know and understand that your current status can be used to the glory of God. Perhaps you may be someone who desires to marry or you may be content in the situation you are in. In either situation, do not waste your current state on what ifs and activities that are meaningless! Right now you have a providential opportunity to live your life in accordance to the Word of God in a way that a married person can’t. It will be my goal in this series to provide sensitive encouragement and strong exhortation to singles. In my next post I want to talk about the advantages of being single.

I wish that all were as I myself am. But each has his own gift from God, one of one kind and one of another.

To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is good for them to remain single as I am. But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion.

7:1 Now concerning the matters about which you wrote: “It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman.”

I wish that all were as I myself am. But each has his own gift from God, one of one kind and one of another.

To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is good for them to remain single as I am. But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion.

1 Corinthians 7:25-40

25 Now concerning the betrothed, I have no command from the Lord, but I give my judgment as one who by the Lord’s mercy is trustworthy. 26 I think that in view of the present distress it is good for a person to remain as he is. 27 Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be free. Are you free from a wife? Do not seek a wife. 28 But if you do marry, you have not sinned, and if a betrothed woman marries, she has not sinned. Yet those who marry will have worldly troubles, and I would spare you that. 29 This is what I mean, brothers: the appointed time has grown very short. From now on, let those who have wives live as though they had none, 30 and those who mourn as though they were not mourning, and those who rejoice as though they were not rejoicing, and those who buy as though they had no goods, 31 and those who deal with the world as though they had no dealings with it. For the present form of this world is passing away.

32 I want you to be free from anxieties. The unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to please the Lord. 33 But the married man is anxious about worldly things, how to please his wife, 34 and his interests are divided. And the unmarried or betrothed woman is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to be holy in body and spirit. But the married woman is anxious about worldly things, how to please her husband. 35 I say this for your own benefit, not to lay any restraint upon you, but to promote good order and to secure your undivided devotion to the Lord.

36 If anyone thinks that he is not behaving properly toward his betrothed, if his passions are strong, and it has to be, let him do as he wishes: let them marry—it is no sin. 37 But whoever is firmly established in his heart, being under no necessity but having his desire under control, and has determined this in his heart, to keep her as his betrothed, he will do well. 38 So then he who marries his betrothed does well, and he who refrains from marriage will do even better.

39 A wife is bound to her husband as long as he lives. But if her husband dies, she is free to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord. 40 Yet in my judgment she is happier if she remains as she is. And I think that I too have the Spirit of God.

But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband.

To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is good for them to remain single as I am. But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion.

4:1 Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons,

22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.

25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. 28 In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, 30 because we are members of his body. 31 “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” 32 This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. 33 However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

The Manner of Prayer

Prayer2

How should we pray? In we have what is most famously known as the Lord’s Prayer. Though it was not a prayer that He prayed, it is His prayer in the sense that He created it. This prayer provides us with a model of how to pray.

Pray then like this: ‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come,
Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil'” ()

The Lord Jesus begins this prayer by saying, “Our Father in heaven“. In all of His prayers, Jesus used the term Father with the exception of (). This manner of address reminds us that we are His children (; ), He provides for us (; ), and that He loves us (). Furthermore, the recognition of Him being in Heaven is also significant. Firstly, it reveals His omnipotence (; ; ). Second, it reveals His omniscience ( ff.). And finally, it reveals His ability to help ().

After the opening words, this model prayer contains six petitions. The first three are concerning God whereas the final three are concerning us. This pattern is rather instructive and useful to remember. A tendency in many prayers is to offer up a wish list. Many prayers can be very self-centered. This prayer, however, teaches the believer to place their attention on God making it a God-centered prayer. Recognizing that the purpose of this prayer is to simply be repeated word for word (though that is not necessarily wrong), it provides God’s people with a pattern and model on how to pray.

Continue reading The Manner of Prayer

Pray then like this:

“Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.

10 Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.

11 Give us this day our daily bread,
12 and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.

13 And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.

Pray then like this:

“Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.

10 Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.

11 Give us this day our daily bread,
12 and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.

13 And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.

46 And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”

And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!”

23 In that day you will ask nothing of me. Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places,

27 for the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God.

and said, “O Lord, God of our fathers, are you not God in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. In your hand are power and might, so that none is able to withstand you.

Our God is in the heavens;
he does all that he pleases.

22 It is he who sits above the circle of the earth,
and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers;
who stretches out the heavens like a curtain,
and spreads them like a tent to dwell in;

The Lord is in his holy temple;
the Lord’s throne is in heaven;
his eyes see, his eyelids test the children of man.

Psalm 102:19

19 that he looked down from his holy height;
from heaven the Lord looked at the earth,

123:1 To you I lift up my eyes,
O you who are enthroned in the heavens!

Christ and Temptation

Two Adams

In my last post I discussed the source and succession of temptation as seen in . I noted that temptation arises when our own desire drags us to the bait of sin. Before you can fight against temptation, it is essential that you have the capacity to do so. Where does such a capacity come from? It certainly cannot be sourced in ourselves (cf. ). It is exclusively found in the Lord Jesus Christ. Humanity fall under one of two representatives, the first Adam or the last Adam (). Consider the following similarities between these two:

Both had an amazing entry into the world (; ), both represented their people (), and they were both tempted by Satan (; ). Now consider the contrast:

Adam, who represented all mankind in Eden experienced temptation and sinned. He disobeyed the Law of God and brought death to his race (). On the other hand, Continue reading Christ and Temptation

13 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. 14 But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. 15 Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.

14 But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire.

45 Thus it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit.

26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

27 So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.

23 “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
and they shall call his name Immanuel”

(which means, God with us).

12 Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned— 13 for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. 14 Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come.

15 But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. 16 And the free gift is not like the result of that one man’s sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification. 17 For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.

18 Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. 19 For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.

3:1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made.

He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.

And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden.

4:1 Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” But he answered, “It is written,

“‘Man shall not live by bread alone,
but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written,

“‘He will command his angels concerning you,’

and

“‘On their hands they will bear you up,
lest you strike your foot against a stone.’”

Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” 10 Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written,

“‘You shall worship the Lord your God
and him only shall you serve.’”

11 Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him.

12 Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned—

Dealing with Temptation

Temptation_-_Cat_and_Goldfish_Bowl

Temptation to sin is a struggle all of us experience. Sadly, a natural tendency of people is to shift the blame away from themselves. In doing so, they wrongly diagnose the problem and ignore the symptoms and therefore don’t receive the biblical solution. In this brief post, I want to look at temptation from the lens of .

The Source of Temptation

James makes it clear that God is not the source of our temptation. He can’t be tempted becauseHe has no capacity or vulnerability to temptation (; ; ) and therefore He does not tempt (). So then, where does temptation come from? says, “But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire”. He illustrates the source of temptation with fishing metaphors. Like a fish that is enticed by the bait and then lured away, we fall into temptation when our “own desire”drags us to the bait. The problem is within us (). Again, notice that the text says, “his own Continue reading Dealing with Temptation

13 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. 14 But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. 15 Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.

16 Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers.

For you are not a God who delights in wickedness;
evil may not dwell with you.

And one called to another and said:

“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts;
the whole earth is full of his glory!”

Why do you make me see iniquity,
and why do you idly look at wrong?
Destruction and violence are before me;
strife and contention arise.

13 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one.

14 But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire.

19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander.

Comforting Others as God has Comforted us

© auremar – Fotolia.com

In reading through Andrew’s recent blogs on identifying sin and replacing it with righteous and pure thoughts and actions, I am reminded of and the critical need to support and encourage one another in our walk with Christ. Thank God we are not to walk this journey alone! This world will often trivialize sin and tempt us to take the easy option, so we must encourage one another to focus on what is pure and honorable and just and lovely as it says in .

Let me be frank and honest here though. Andrew rightly said we should hate and detest sin as it goes against God’s very character. However, in actual fact, there are times, if we are honest with ourselves, when we “want to sin”… we want to take the so called easy option, to make the choice that we think will bring us more satisfaction. As appealing as it may be for many of us to have lots of chocolate or ice cream, afterwards our actions often lead to guilt and a stomach ache. We feel unhealthy and our bodies don’t feel like they are working at their best. This is what it is like with sin… It’s appealing, but always leads us feeling guilty and broken. We are never fulfilled in the long run. We may have short term satisfaction, but always long term decay and unfulfilment. Given the enticing nature of sin, we need to be honest about our struggles with God and when appropriate with others, followed by how God blesses us as we choose to trust in Him rather than continue to feed our sinful appetites. To keep from others how God impacts and liberates our lives robs them of the hope and comfort that God has given us.

Continue reading Comforting Others as God has Comforted us

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus, that in every way you were enriched in him in all speech and all knowledge— even as the testimony about Christ was confirmed among you— so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

10 I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment. 11 For it has been reported to me by Chloe’s people that there is quarreling among you, my brothers.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.