I wonder if it would be surprising to hear that you can allow the devil to tempt you? Does that shock you? “I’m a child of God; the devil can’t come after me”. Let’s quickly put that to rest, even Jesus was tempted, found without sin, but still tempted.
I know we aren’t going out and doing much shopping recently due to Covid-19, however, think back to a time when we used to do that regularly. Maybe you remember a time when there was the perfect dress or that tech product you wanted so badly but knew you probably shouldn’t put it on a credit card or knew it wasn’t in the budget.
I’ve been there; it usually would go one of two ways, I’d either decide right there on the spot that it’s irresponsible to buy it when it wasn’t in the budget and decide that I didn’t need it. Or, I would do something that humans do all the time, I’d think about it, sometimes even obsessively. Maybe, if I were trying to be smart, I’d take a few laps around the mall and think about it. But the more that I did (think about it), the more I followed what I was already feeling inclined to do.
There’s a famous verse in James, “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” Resist, and he WILL flee. Let’s take a look at that word for a second; the definition for resist is, “succeed in ignoring the attraction of (something wrong or unwise).” That’ll preach right there.
How many of us, though, when tempted, resist? Or if we do, to what extent? I’m not writing this as someone who is thinking about this topic from the outside. I’m writing this as a person who has fallen short in whatever form that took many times.
I remember a preacher saying that we can’t control what enters our minds, but we can control what we do with those thoughts. I think that’s true. Sometimes, we pick up on cues throughout our day that would love to feed our sinful desire, especially in a world that advertises all sorts of things to us, food, sex, and lifestyle. It’s what we do with the thoughts thought, when they enter our minds, that matter, and that will decide how things play out.
Let’s go back to my original question, did you know that you can allow the devil to tempt you? When we do not deal with thoughts, when we let them sit or even when we disregard them while still not dealing with them, we set ourselves up for failure.
I think it’s crazy how sometimes we can rationalize things, “no, I’m an adult, that’s okay for me”, “in my culture that’s fine”, “I know my limits”.
The last time I checked the devil is about stealing, killing, and destroying. Do you think he cares if you consider yourself an adult, do you think he cares about your limits? When we justify and let things in it gives way to thoughts, when thoughts are not dealt with, they lead to sin. If we go back to the book of James, it lays this out clearly,
“Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death. So don’t be misled, my dear brothers and sisters. Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow.”
Let me encourage you; we need to deal with thoughts that are contrary to God’s word immediately as they enter our minds. Not disregard them. You may have to do this many times throughout your day, but you know what if that’s what it takes, that’s what it takes. In 2 Corinthians, it says, “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”
If we are going to start winning, if we are going to take back our thoughts and minds, we need to start shutting doors that would regularly allow the chaos to enter. Remember, with God, all things are possible. Including your battle with Temptation.