“The fact that a chaotic and ill-educated time cannot clearly grasp the truth does not alter the fact that it always will be the truth.”~G.K. Chesterton: ‘Illustrated London News,’ 3/23/29. Truth? http://ow.ly/HAEZt
I had originally posted this in 2012. I thought it was time to bump it up.
“No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”
1 Corinthians 10:13 NIV
Who is not tempted? Yes that is a trick question. Anyone who ever walked the earth has faced temptation. Jesus was tempted, Matthew 4:1 “Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.” So if God allowed Jesus to face temptation you can be sure all of us must face it. No it is not a test, resist and win, give in and lose. Temptation can have many purposes. Sometimes it is even for our benefit. First God does not cause the temptation, the evil that is our broken world is the source of temptation. So no matter how “good” you are, you will face temptation in the world we live in.
If we accept that statement as fact, then instead of trying to flee all temptation we need to examine how best to not give in to the temptations we face. Sometimes we will need to flee from it as fast as we can. At other times it can be a way to examine ourselves and find where our spiritual strengths and weaknesses are. Why do I feel this way and is there something I can do to change my feelings about this temptation. If you agree God does not cause the temptations we face, then we should accept he allows them, at times even for our benefit. Yes for our benefit.
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. John 15:1-2 NIV
In these verses and the ones that follow Jesus gives us a reason for some of our problems and temptations. I have found in my own life, the problems I have gone through allow me to spiritually grow in some way that benefits not only me, but my service in the Kingdom of God. Do I wish I didn’t have to go through many of these problems, yes. Yet when facing seemingly insurmountable problems sometimes all we have to grasp is the fact that God is with us and things will work themselves out for our benefit and God’s Glory if we allow it.
A song that really speaks to me about this process is Kutless’ “Even If”. If you like that kind of thing check out. So what to do when faced with temptation? Trust in God. Don’t think you have to deal with it alone, that is the world’s way of deceiving you. Use friends, mentors, pastors, counselors. God created us to be in fellowship with Him and with other people. Getting through tough times is one reason why. What we experience we can then use to be of benefit to others. Let me close with some words from Jesus, John 15:12-15 NIV
My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.
So what happens when you think something, and then while reading something it is like BOOM!
This belief gets solidified and you feel connected… Well at least this is what happened to me while reading
John Ortberg’s recent book, Soul Keeping: Caring for the Most Important Part of You
Then I go into nature. I stand on a beach before the ocean. My mind is filled with admiration for the sights and sounds of the waves. Other distracting thoughts melt away. There is congruence between what my body experiences (the sights and sounds of the ocean) and what my mind is thinking (God’s beauty and goodness). By slowing down and observing the beauty of my surroundings, I tend not to worry about tomorrow or regret yesterday. I am less enslaved by other people’s opinions of me. There is greater congruence between what I think, feel, choose, and do. I experience, at least for a few moments, what it is to be unconflicted, whole. My soul gets healed.
What I want to do is start at the ending, or what seems to be the end, with these two verses.
Matthew 27:50 Then Jesus shouted out again, and he released his spirit.
Mark 15:37 Then Jesus uttered another loud cry and breathed his last.
Jesus after being beaten, flogged and crucified on a cross seemingly has reached the end. The Gospel accounts in Matthew and Mark have the words of Jesus as he reaches the end of his suffering.
Mark 15:34 “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which translated means “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me” At this moment in time, God has abandoned God. The humanity God assumed in the persona of Jesus has been totally crushed. The weight of the broken world has been put onto the crucifixion of Jesus. The ultimate sacrifice has been paid for our sins. Here is more detail from the Gospel of John 19:28-30
Jesus knew that his mission was now finished, and to fulfill Scripture he said, “I am thirsty.” A jar of sour wine was sitting there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put it on a hyssop branch, and held it up to his lips. When Jesus had tasted it, he said,“It is finished!” Then he bowed his head and released his spirit.
So what do you take out of these few verses from the Bible? “It is finished!” A common belief is that at that moment Jesus knows he has paid the price for our sins and with death seconds away acknowledges the price paid. Done! Finished! Our sins purchased with Jesus’s blood on the Cross. Certainly that is a basic understanding and truth of those words. However as Christians we know the story does not end there. In three days the tomb where Jesus body was laid is empty. Witnesses attest to seeing the risen Jesus. Certainly without the Resurrection there would be no Christianity. Since the story does not end on the Cross, why do the last words Jesus gives us on the Cross seemingly contradict his and our, ongoing story?
What these words have come to mean to me is that God’s Grace & Love has been interjected into our world. We can do nothing to stop it, reduce it, enlarged it, or earn it. It is finished, means God has entered our world and covered it with his Love & Grace. There is nothing anyone can do to make it more or less. In our sin, God still loves us and covers us with His Love & Grace in the persona of Jesus. Judah Smith, in his book JESUS IS _______ tells us a simple truth.
Lately, I have realized something about grace that has changed my life. It’s nothing new-people have understood this for years. It is straight out of the Bible. But it has become real to me, and it has helped a lot of things fall into place. Grace is more than a principle, more than an idea, more than a doctrine or dogma. More than a cover up for sin. Grace is a person. And his name is Jesus.
Whenever we sin, Jesus is there. Whenever we are at our wits end, Jesus is there. When we try to make our own definition for grace. Jesus is there. How is he there? Standing unchanged, speaking to us in Spirit and in Truth, by the Holy Spirit and God’s Word, the Bible. When we try to hold our definition of Grace up to the light of Christ it becomes totally inadequate. When we come face to face with the truth of God’s Grace, Jesus, what else is left except to let it cover us and give us what we need, when we need it. In this truth all can find comfort no matter their situation. So are you ready to meet Grace today? See Jesus Loves you no matter who you are or what you have done. All you need to do is ask him into your life. Acknowledge him as your Lord and Savior. Accept His free gift of Grace and Love.