★ Thought for the Day – Avoiding a whole “LOT” of trouble ★

In our last post called ★ Thought for the Day – Community That Matters ★, we explored the importance of what my church calls “Fight Clubs,” which are bible studies with 2-3 people of the same gender who gather together to:

1.  Fight for Truth
2.  Fight Your Sin and
3.  Fight for Others

Today we are going to focus on the aspect of “fighting our sin.”  We all have to deal with some form of temptation. It may be obvious like alcohol or drug addiction. It could be with what the Bible calls “the lust of the flesh,” which essentially is what is allowed to be looked at on the internet, TV or even magazines in the grocery store that feeds inappropriate sexual behavior like pornography, promiscuity or adultery.  Or it could be saying no to the second helping of food, or not continually gorging on snacks and desserts (something that is hard to do especially right now with Girls Scout Cookies being sold everywhere you go…hahaha!)  But there may be some less obvious temptations to be aware of.  Perhaps it’s a preferred college that is a known “party school,” or a job offer that would be great for “career advancement,” but the company conducts business with questionable ethics.  Or if I haven’t gotten you yet, (which I doubt if you’re being honest,) it could be that you need to avoid the temptation to get the latest gossip, aka the “dirt” or juicy morsel about a friend’s break up or what mistake someone has made.  Or here’s a temptation you may not have thought of…Anger – giving into the rage that you have allowed to build up within you.  So whether it is alcohol, drugs, pornography, promiscuity / adultery, gluttony, moral / ethical compromise, gossiping, or anger, the Word of God has much to say on the subject.  As a result this post will only scratch the surface and will serve as an introduction to a series of posts that will delve much deeper into each of these temptations.

There are two parts to temptation: the Spiritual and Physical.  If you have been around our blog you have heard me talk about spiritual warfare often because we need to be aware of the war that is raging.  Now this is not a license to sin, allowing us to “cop-out” of taking responsibility for our actions by saying “the Devil made me do it.”  But there is without a doubt a really battle going on between good and evil in the unseen world, see Ephesians 6:10-17.  The war is for our soul, which Satan will use temptation to draw us away from God which started at the beginning of time with a simple question that is recorded in Genesis 3:1 (NLT)…

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“Did God really say…?” is a question we have all heard in some form or another to get us to doubt the truth of God’s Word or to rationalize a sin that we are flirting with.  Just like any good prosecuting attorney, Satan screams lies into our mind to establish “reasonable doubt.”  Charles Stanley has this life lesson on Genesis 3:1…

“Satan often begins his temptations by questioning God’s commands and suggesting that obedience is not really necessary.  Don’t fall for his trap!  We do ourselves great harm when we believe that we will find greater blessing in doing our own thing than in obeying God.  Obedience is necessary and always results in blessings.”

I especially like that last part, “Obedience is necessary and always results in blessings.”  But too often we want the blessing of God WITHOUT obeying His commands.  What we fail to realize, is that God’s commands are there not to keep us from what is fun and fulfilling, but to keep us safe from what will destroy our soul and body so we don’t become like some sad country song.  Have you ever heard this joke?

“What do you get when you play a country song backwards?”

Answer:  “You get your house back, your wife back, your dog back, your truck back.”

As an avid fan of the genre, I can tell you that there tons of stories set to music about heartbreak and loss as a result of bad choices.  Today we are going to look at the saddest man in the entire Bible and how his life really could be the subject of a country song!  We will unpack how he started out on top of the world but went horribly wrong by giving into the second part of temptation – the Physical.  Do you know who that is?  If you answered Job, I would say good guess but you would be incorrect. Though he went through unbelievable trials of losing all he had monetarily (property and livestock), his children and also his health, in the end he was blessed abundantly by God.  If you read Job 42:10, 12a, 17 it shows how in the end Job came out all right. No, the person I am referring to is Lot, Abram’s nephew.  What makes his life so sad is his failure to avoid temptation and fight his sin.

Lot is a great case study to serve as a cautionary tale to illustrate how critical it is for us to battle against those weaknesses that can wreak havoc in our lives.  In full disclosure, I do want to mention that a lot of what I will talk about was influenced by a sermon I heard back in 2013 called The Devil Made Me Do It! by Perry Noble (who is the former Pastor of NewSpring Church.)  Perry Noble called Lot “the saddest story in the Bible” because as a result from failing to “just say no” to temptation, he went from “riches to rags.”  In 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 (NLT) the Apostle Paul gives us this warning…

“Don’t you realize that those who do wrong will not inherit the Kingdom of God?  Don’t fool yourselves.  Those who indulge in sexual sin, or who worship idols, or commit adultery, or are male prostitutes, or practice homosexuality, or are thieves, or greedy people, or drunkards, or are abusive, or cheat people — none of these will inherit the Kingdom of God.”

Ouch!!  Strong words for sure but I think in this instant gratification generation of “I want what I want and I want it now,” it is sorely needed.  Perry Noble made this simple but profound statement in his message that:

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Boy is that true not only today, but for Lot as well.  For those who may not remember the story of Lot I will give you the cliff notes version of his decline in the Book of Genesis.  I pray you would be open to what God wants to speak into your life about temptation and allow Lot’s “hindsight” to be our “foresight.”  We can learn a lot from Lot!  (Pun intended…Hahaha!  Sorry I couldn’t help myself.)

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  • Genesis 12:1-5 is where we first meet Lot. He was the nephew of Abram (also known as Abraham) the patriarch of Israelites who was instructed to leave everything behind and go to the land God was giving him.  Abram brought with him, his wife and nephew Lot.  Here we learn that when we surround ourselves with Godly people, we will be brought to places we never could have gotten to without them!
  • Genesis 13:5-17 records how Lot had become very wealthy as he traveled with his uncle and how trouble broke out between their herdsmen because the land could not support all the livestock that the two of them had…#FirstWorldProblems!!  Here is a great truth, when we associate with people who are pursuing God, their blessings will overflow onto us. So to save the relationship, Abram suggested that they separate and offered Lot “first dibs” on where he wanted to settle.  Lot chose the fertile plains of the Jordan Valley near Sodom.  If you don’t recognize that name, Sodom was the city that God destroyed because of the rampant immorality!  (See verse 13.)  Regardless of this, Lot chose to move his Tents near there.  How often do we make decisions based on “what looks good” rather than “what is good?” 
  • You’ve heard the expression “guilt by association” right? I don’t know the etymology of that expression but it definitely could have roots in Genesis 14:10-17 which shows the consequences of associating with evil.  War came upon the city of Sodom and Gomorrah resulting in Lot being taken captive with the rest of the citizens.  As a result of living near Sodom, Lot was swept away.  We all have those people in our lives that continually seem to make the wrong choice and find themselves in need of rescuing.  Ultimately Lot was “bailed out” by his uncle Abram who mobilized 318 men to go rescue him and the other prisoners.  The trouble is that you never know when one bad decision will cost you everything.  That is the danger of flirting with temptation by associating with corrupt and immoral people as Lot did!  I am reminded of 1 Corinthians 15:33…

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  • There is a break in the action with Lot for five chapters and then Genesis 19:1-26 picks us with two angels entering into Sodom looking for Lot and found him sitting at the entrance of the city (which in that time was reserved for leaders of the city!)  Lot went from pitching his tents on the outskirts of the city to becoming a prominent member of the morally corrupt community.  Talk about the fulfillment of 1 Corinthians 15:33!  The angels were there to warn Lot and his family that God was going to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah as a result of his uncle once again bailing him out; (see Genesis 18:22-33 which tells us how Abraham Interceded for Sodom to try to stop God’s wrath from being unleashed.)  These 26 verses in Chapter 19 are jammed pack with drama and some pretty disturbing truths about Lot and the men of Sodom who came knocking on Lot’s door, (after he convinced the two angels to stay at his home,) in Genesis 9:5-8 the men of Sodom were looking to rape the angels:

“They shouted to Lot, “Where are the men who came to spend the night with you?  Bring them out to us so we can have sex with them!”

So Lot stepped outside to talk to them, shutting the door behind him.  “Please, my brothers,” he begged, “don’t do such a wicked thing.  Look, I have two virgin daughters.  Let me bring them out to you, and you can do with them as you wish.  But please, leave these men alone, for they are my guests and are under my protection.”

“Please, my brothers?”  Ugh!  How far Lot fell!!!  He went from being blessed by his proximity to Abraham to now calling these wicked men “brothers!”  And if that was not awful enough, he offered his daughters to be raped by the men of the city in their place!  How would you like a father like that?  The story spirals further out of control as the angels plead with Lot to gather his wife, daughters and future sons-in-law as the time was close that God was going to reign down judgement on the city.  Lot was only able to convince his wife and daughters to flee the city but as they hurried out of the city, the angels warned them not to look back at the destruction.  In verse 26 it records the consequence of disobedience…

“But Lot’s wife looked back as she was following behind him, and she turned into a pillar of salt.116-daily-dependence-remember-lots-wifeSo now because Lot went towards “what looked good,” instead of “what was good,” all he had was gone including his wife!  Flirting with Temptation will never end well…eventually you will give in to it and will have to reap the consequences!

  • But the story doesn’t end there.  Genesis 19:30-38 offers the final proof that Lot is the saddest man in the Bible.  Fearing for his life, Lot and his two daughters ended up living in a cave in the mountains isolated from all other people.  Since there were no other men around, Lot’s daughters conspired together to get him drunk and have sex with their father in order to have children to “continue the family line.”  And that is exactly what they did in two consecutive nights.  The Bible records that Lot was so drunk “he was unaware of her lying down or getting up again.”  Both conceived, the older daughter’s son “became the ancestor of the nation now known as the Moabites,” and the younger daughter’s son the “became the ancestor of the nation now known as the Ammonites.”  How unbelievably pathetic Lot had become that he would get so drunk that he was unaware of having sex with each daughter!  And for those who know your Old Testament, the Moabites and Ammonites were constant thorns in the side of the nation of Israel (who are he descendants of Abraham.)      

Lot went from being blessed abundantly because of his proximity to Abraham, to ending up living in a cave with his daughters who got him drunk so he could impregnate them.  I am sure if you could ask Lot, “Where do you see your life ending up?”  He never would have dreamed that moving his tents to a place near Sodom would have landed him in a cave without his wife, broke and two grandchildren that he would play a part in conceiving!

The key to Avoiding a whole “Lot” of trouble is to fight against the Temptations that come before each of us.  Proverbs 4:23 (NLT) says:

“Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.”

Our heart is the starting for all of our problems if we fail to guard it!  I asked the guys in my lifegroup for their perspective of what they have learned about temptation and here is what one had to say which was quite profound!

“The biggest way to help overcome temptation is through connection with others.  Having relationships with people who are real and well-grounded spiritually.  You need authentic people who will truly hold you accountable.  The opposite of addiction is not sobriety… it is connection.  So much of the time temptation and desire to sin happens in the absence of others.  Having connection to people helps fight against that.”  Tom Duarte

Amen!!!  Accountability is critical!  God never intended for us to live life isolated from others.  When we and connected to other Godly people we can overcome!    Ecclesiastes 4:12 says:

116-daily-dependence-ecclesiastes-4-12“A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.”

We are stronger together!  And look at what Galatians 5:16-17 (NLT) shows the benefits of avoiding temptation:

“So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives.  Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves.  The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants.  And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires.  These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions.”

We need to be led by the Spirit!  And when we are then our lives with show the evidence of the “Fruit of the Spirit.” (See Galatians 5:22-23.)

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If you notice the last fruit, it is “self-control” which I dare say may be the most important one!  It is a lack of self-control that will lead to succumbing to the temptation resulting in sin.  Jesus’ little brother offers this truth in James 1:15 (NLT)…

“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.”

Just like Lot, we must protect ourselves from “our own desires” that will give way to sinful actions because in the end it will result in death!  Here is my prayer for you!!

“I pray that your love will overflow more and more, and that you will keep on growing in knowledge and understanding.  For I want you to understand what really matters, so that you may live pure and blameless lives until the day of Christ’s return.”  Philippians 1:9-10 (NLT)

In the upcoming posts, I hope God will speak through you as we study about pitfalls of yielding to various temptations.  If we bury our head in the sand like Lot, we WILL suffer the consequences!

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Here is the next installment of the Temptation Series called:

      Thought for the Day – Avoiding the Consequences of Alcohol and Drugs (Part 2)

Also if you want to delve deeper on this topic, check out the posts:

★ Thought for the Day – Honest Self-Evaluation ★

★ Act Like Men – “The Sampson Syndrome” ★

And as mentioned earlier, here is an incredible “The Devil Made Me Do It!” on the life of Lot by Perry Noble.

https://newspring.cc/sermons/angelsdemons/temptation-the-devil-made-me-do-it

 

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★ Thought for the Day – Avoiding the Consequences of Alcohol and Drugs (Part 2) ★

Today is Part 2 in Our Temptation Series.  If you have missed the previous post, we first introduced the series using Abraham’s Nephew “Lot” as a case study called ★ Thought for the Day – Avoiding a Whole “LOT” of Trouble ★.  As we develop each temptation trap or “pitfall,” we will use a biblical case study as well as someone who I know or myself to make it current.  I have combined these two “pitfalls” that we can fall victim to into one post since they typically go hand in hand.  At least they did for me.  I learned this lesson the hard way as I failed in both areas and was trapped in a downward spiral of self-destructive behavior involving alcohol and drugs.

In the post ★ Thought for the Day – The Family Juggernaut ★, I shared about how my family of origin was wrecked by neglect, alcoholism, drug use, verbal attacks, physical abuse, and adultery all by the time I reached 5 years old!  Not surprisingly, that was the year that my parents divorced.  My teenage years and early twenties were characterized with drugs and alcohol, living life far from God and doing whatever felt good and benefited me.  I used the excuse that I came from a broken home to self-medicate my problems away instead of facing them head long.  I hated the face I saw in the mirror and so I surrounded myself with people who would no challenge me to change but instead accepted me because they were involved in the same self-destructive behaviors.  The people I associated with liked to party and drink excessively and I had no problem joining in and that has not changed 27 years later.

“According to the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), 15.1 million adults ages 18 and older had Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD).” 

“According to the 2015 NSDUH, an estimated 623,000 adolescents ages 12–17 had AUD.” Source: NSDUH Alcohol Facts and Statistics

What these statistics don’t comment on is the problem that abusing alcohol can escalate to more serious narcotics.  I remember my first time that I experimented with marijuana (or pot) like it was yesterday.  I was 15 years old at a party and had consumed so much alcohol that when the joint went around the circle I was too intoxicated to say no.  It is hard enough to resist temptation but when you surround yourself with the wrong people, compromise will always follow.  My drinking problem placed me in no position to make the right choice, and was the gateway to a life of illegal drugs that lasted almost 10 years before God used my girlfriend (now wife,) to lead me out of that dark life.

Now you may be thinking to yourself that I don’t remember reading anything in the Bible that directly says do not do drugs, but I think we can all agree that the effects of prolonged drug use can have devastating effects.  In a great article call “Don’t Let Your Mind Go to Pot” John Piper made this great parallel:

“In regard to drunkenness — and a marijuana high is a kind of drunkenness — the Bible says,

‘In the end it bites like a serpent and stings like an adder [or viper].  Your eyes will see strange things, and your heart utter perverse things.’  (Proverbs 23:32-33). 

In other words, it leads away from the kind of sober-mindedness and self-control that is essential in using the mind for the glory of God.”

Amen!!  John Piper also said:

“In everything you do, ask yourself: Is this making Jesus look like the treasure He is?”  

So if you are rationalizing that marijuana or other drugs are not mentioned in the Bible, ask yourself, is hitting the bong or snorting that line of cocaine making Jesus look like the treasure He is supposed to be in your life?  Whether it be the temptation of drugs or alcohol, yielding to either only feeds your sinful nature and the Bible has much to say about that!  Galatians 5:19-21 (NLT) says:

“When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. 

Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.”

What a list!  We will unpack much of these pitfalls in the next 5 posts.  Verse 21 is also quite sobering (no pun intended)…“anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God!” 

Our case study today from the Old Testament that best exemplifies yielding to the temptation and its disastrous consequences is the man Noah.  You may be thinking to yourself, wait a second, “wasn’t he the man God used to build an ark to save two of every kind of animal from the flood that God was sending to punish the world because of the increasing immorality?”  The answer is yes!  Genesis 6:9-19 says:

“These are the generations of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation. Noah walked with God.  And Noah had three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth.”

As a result of his righteousness, God saved Noah, his wife, their three sons and their wives from destruction.  The whole epic story can be found in Genesis Chapters 6-9 but what is not really ever discussed is what happens after the flood recedes and God makes His covenant with Noah and all his descendents to never flood the Earth again.  We remember the rainbow in the clouds as a sign of the covenant but what happens after that?

Genesis 9:18-28 recalls how after the flood had receded Noah planted a vineyard and one night he got drunk and was found inside his tent naked by his youngest son Ham who shamed his father by telling his two brothers about being passed out drunk.  But instead of joining in their brother’s disrespect, Shem and Japheth covered their father’s nakedness.  Verses 24-27 recounts:

“When Noah woke up from his stupor, he learned what Ham, his youngest son, had done.  Then he cursed Canaan, the son of Ham:

‘May Canaan be cursed!
May he be the lowest of servants to his relatives.’

Then Noah said,

‘May the Lord, the God of Shem, be blessed, and may Canaan be his servant!
May God expand the territory of Japheth!
May Japheth share the prosperity of Shem, and may Canaan be his servant.’”

Wow that seems extreme doesn’t it?  But that is exactly what happens when we allow alcohol (and drugs) to have priority in our lives.  It will result in us doing and saying things that we would not normally do, and ultimately will wreak havoc in our lives and the one’s we love.  Noah was 601 years old when he left the ark (Genesis 8:13) and lived until he was 950 (Genesis 9:29).  It’s sad to me that after that night of drunkenness there is nothing more to report about this righteous man who was the only person in God’s eyes worthy to be saved in all the earth.  There is nothing to support this, but could it be that his vineyard became an idol and his yielding to the temptation of alcohol rendered Noah ineffectual or useless to expand the Kingdom of God?   

I have been doing a bible study with my neighbor on the Book of Genesis and God showed me something that I never saw before.  When you look at the dependents of Noah’s three sons:

You can see that the blessing on Shem’s descendants and the Curse on Canaan and his descendants came to pass.  We discussed Abram (also known as Abraham) and Lot in the previous post about how God blessed them both who were in the lineage of Shem.  Abraham was the patriarch of the Israelite’s who were constantly plagued by the highlighted names above who were not only the descendants of Canaan but also from Ham’s other sons as well.  When you think of it, centuries of wars and death can be traced back to one night of drunkenness!

Proverbs 20:1 (NLT) says:

“Wine produces mockers; alcohol leads to brawls.
     Those led astray by drink cannot be wise.”

And that is certainly the case for Noah.  Perhaps the reason why we read nothing more about Noah’s subsequent 349 years after the miraculous survival from the flood is because he was led astray and spent those years in conflict with his son and grandchildren as a result of Noah’s pride being hurt.  I read a great article called “Wise Up About Alcohol” by James MacDonald in which he advocated complete abstinence from alcohol which was quite compelling.  In his conclusion, he said:

“The Bible does not require abstinence, but I believe it recommends it as the wiser choice.

‘Abstain from all appearance of evil.’  1 Thessalonians 5:22
‘I will not be brought under the power of anything.’  1 Corinthians 6:12
‘You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free’ John 8:32

You say, ‘Free from what?’ — free from addictive patterns of sinfulness that don’t lead to the righteousness which can be found in Christ alone.”

Now whether you agree with complete abstinence from alcohol or not, don’t miss the point that we need to be to be aware of the hold that it has on us.  In 1 Corinthians 6:12 (NLT), the Apostle Paul says:

“You say, ‘I am allowed to do anything’ — but not everything is good for you.  And even though ‘I am allowed to do anything,’ I must not become a slave to anything.”

Now 1 Corinthians 6:12 is a warning about “Avoiding Sexual Sin” which will unpack in the next post but I wanted to highlight the last part of the verse which says:

“I must not become a slave to anything.”

The ESV translation says “I will not be dominated by anything.”  When we cannot say no to another drink or another hit, snort or pill of __________ (fill in the blank) then that is exactly what is happening!  We are a slave to alcohol and drugs and have allowed our lives to be dominated!  I would be remiss if I did not mention one of the most quoted verses on temptation from 1 Corinthians 10:13 (NLT)…

“The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience.  And God is faithful.  He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand.  When you are tempted, He will show you a way out so that you can endure.”

Charles Stanley has this life lesson:

“We will face temptation just as the Old Testament saints did, but we do not have to choose disobedience to God.  Why?  Because the power of sin over us was defeated at the Cross.  If we’ve trusted Christ as our savior, His Spirit lives in us – giving us the power and wisdom to overcome our sinful impulses so we can obey Him.  So whenever you are tempted, ask God to remind you of the terrible consequences that would follow the transgression and to fill your heart with love and obedience for Him – because that is a sure way of escape.”

I love, love, love that advice to that “whenever you are tempted, ask God to remind you of the terrible consequences that would follow the transgression.”  How much different would our lives be if we were to pray this?  And if we would, I believe that we would see the fruition of Galatians 5:22-25 (NLT) manifested!

“But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.  There is no law against these things!  Those who belong to Christ 

 Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there.  Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives.”

You know the expression, ‘save the best for last?’  When you look at the ninth “Fruit of the Spirit,” it is self-control.  I think mastery of this area can unlock the key to overcoming temptation and avoiding the consequences that will result if we fail to.  I will close with this from John MacArthur about what it means to live in the Spirit:

“The Spirit-filled life is overflowing with gratitude, joy, right relationships, and good behavior — quite a contrast to those enslaved by alcohol.  You may not be seeking your joy in drugs or alcohol, but are you seeking to be filled with the Spirit?”  From Living Under The Influence

Are you seeking to be filled with the Spirit?  The answer to that question will speak volumes to whether you will continue to yield to alcohol and drugs and whether the truth of God is in us!

“Our actions will show that we belong to the truth, so we will be confident when we stand before God.”  1 John 3:19 (NLT)

Here is the next installment of the Temptation Series called:

★ Thought for the Day – Avoiding the Consequences of Lust (Part 3a) ★

If you’re interested in digging deeper, check out:

★ Thought for the Day – Who Are You Imitating? ★

Here are some great articles called:

“Wise Up About Alcohol” by James MacDonald

“Don’t Let Your Mind Go to Pot by John Piper

Living “Under the Influence” by John MacArthur 

 

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★ Thought for the Day – Avoiding the Consequences of Lust (Part 3a) ★

Our Temptation Series continues today with us unpacking how to avoid the Consequences of Lust.  If you have missed the previous posts, we first introduced the series using Abraham’s Nephew “Lot” as a case study (you can click here to catch up).  We then studied Noah and the trap of alcohol and drugs (click here.)  This Thought will delve into an equally harmful pitfall which you may initially think is harmless but can easily go terribly wrong.  Initially I thought we would be able to cover the temptation of Lust in this post but since it is such a broad topic, we will split this one in to a Part A and B.  We will touch upon (3) areas which are interconnected as each enticement results in a subsequent escalating behavior that can destroy lives whether it is one’s reputation, relationships, and even employment.  Three outlets of Lust that can result are…Pornography, Promiscuity and Adultery.  There definitely are many other deviant behaviors that can be unleashed if Lust is unfettered but we will not venture into that darkness.

The Barna Research Group published an article called “New Research Explores the Changing Shape of Temptation” on January 25, 2013 and here is some of their findings from a study they conducted:

“Though sexual sins are nothing new, viewing pornography online continues to escalate and take on new forms as the Internet and social media evolve.  Nearly one in five Americans (18%) say they are tempted to view pornography or sexually inappropriate content online.”

Now before we get started, I just want to make sure we are all on the same page…Pornography can be movies, pictures, magazines, books, etc. that show or describe naked people or sex for arousal.  It used to be that you had to go to newsstand to buy a pornographic magazine or go into a seedy X-rated store to purchase videos but the dawn of the internet changed everything.  Now pornographic content is available to anyone who has access to a computer, tablet or cell phone.  My prayer for today is that if the area of Sexual Integrity has been compromised in your life, that God would open your eyes to the dangers of giving into lustful or fleshly desires.  I pray that because you may be reading this post and not even think that Lust or viewing pornography as something to be avoided.  Here are two shocking statistics from another article published from the Barna Research study called the “The Porn Phenomenon”:

Source: “Teens & Young Adults Use Porn More Than Anyone Else,” January 28, 2016

Not recycling is more immoral than viewing porn!!!!  How far down has our world degraded too??!!  But even though the culture may view it as not a big deal, the Word of God has a much different viewpoint… 1 Corinthians 6:18-20 (ESV) commands:

In our last post ★ Thought for the Day – The End is Near…? ★, we discussed that in the End Times there will be Godlessness and rampant immorality, but that God sent Jesus to rescue us from Satan’s stranglehold in every area of life including Lust.  We are to glorify God with our body and when we go down the dark road of pornography, promiscuity is a natural result.  A simple way of defining promiscuity is having sex before marriage and potentially with multiple partners.  Maybe you’re reading this and thinking: “What’s wrong with that?  Shouldn’t we experiment before marriage to know what we like?”  I know that is how I felt and that is exactly the trap that Satan sets through pornography and he will use any medium available.  I read this quote from Jimmy Evans who nailed it when he said:

“Movies, television, magazines, and the Internet all display glamorized views of sexual immorality.  They don’t show the disease.  They don’t show the heartache that always results.  They just show the fun—and it makes us feel like we’re missing out.”  Source: “The Secrets of Lifelong Passion and Intimacy”

Everywhere we look sexual immorality is celebrated with no consequences or repercussions.  “If it makes you feel good, go ahead and try it,” or “click here to see what everyone’s talking about…”  FOMO reigns supreme!  “Fear Of Missing Out” is not a new idea, it started back in Garden of Eden when Satan first planted the seed of doubt (see Genesis 3:1,) and it is alive and well today!  The antidote to Satan’s venom is the truth that is found in the Word of God.  Romans 13:13-14 (NLT) offers this for those who believe in Jesus:

“Because we belong to the day, we must live decent lives for all to see.  Don’t participate in the darkness of wild parties and drunkenness, or in sexual promiscuity and immoral living, or in quarreling and jealousy.  Instead, clothe yourself with the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ.  And don’t let yourself think about ways to indulge your evil desires.”

It always comes back to a choice.  We have to choose not to place ourselves in a vulnerable position by engaging in wild parties with alcohol and drugs because our inhibitions are greatly diminished.  Many use Satan as a scapegoat, saying “The Devil made me do it.”  And while it is true that he uses pornography to entrap people, James 1:14-15 (NLT) clearly shows that:

“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.”

James was Jesus’ little brother so who better to instruct us right?  It is our decision to whether we yield to what the Devil puts in front of us and when we do the consequences can be life changing.  That is why understanding the destructive nature of pornography is key to have victory in the area of sexual integrity.  But that will never happen if we don’t at first understand that pornography is just a worthless counterfeit of what God’s plan for Marriage which inevitably will lead to promiscuity.  Sex is intended to be the glue to unite a man and woman in a covenantal relationship.  Unfortunately long before they say “I do,” pornography distorts and pollutes the intimacy that was to be enjoyed between a husband and wife.  When we give into the temptation of lust, we are trading beauty for filth which I know all too well.  Like that statistic above, I was exposed to pornography around 12 years old and I was hooked.  Long before I accepted Jesus and way too young to really process just what I was seeing, Satan was like a boa constrictor that just squeezing and squeezing the life from me.  It repulses me to think of all garbage I allowed before my eyes and I wish I had never seen it.  But there is hope!  Regardless of what culture may say, people can and do change if they are willing to put the work.

Psalms 119:9-11 (NLT) says:

“How can a young person stay pure?  By obeying your word.  I have tried hard to find you — don’t let me wander from your commands.  I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.”

Too easy?  Perhaps but I truly believe that reading God’s Word, the Bible is the way to overcome Satan’s plans of corruption. You cannot just right over and over “I will not sin” on a chalkboard like in school or “will yourself” not to give into temptation thinking that your strong enough to resist.  I cannot tell you how many times I thought that but ended up failing.  1 Corinthians 10:12-13 (NLT) warns…

If you think you are standing strong, be careful not to fall.  The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience.  And God is faithful.  He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand.  When you are tempted, He will show you a way out so that you can endure.”

And Proverbs 16:18 (ESV) says:

“Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.”

The first step is recognizing that there is a problem and then establishing the proper boundaries.  Tomorrow we will look into the “man after God’s own heart” who allowed the lust in his heart to go unabated.  I will close with this advice from Woodrow Kroll of how to gain victory in life…

“Like our cell phone, Satan has an app for everything. He specializes in getting us off focus.  Now the way to refocus is to set everything else aside, shut everything else out of our life.  Sit done, sit still, open our Bible, and begin to absorb what God has for us.  This doesn’t have to take hours but the more we focus on God and His Word the more we lose focus on the things that Satan tempts us with.”  

Here is part B of this post which is the next installment of the Temptation Series called:

★ Thought for the Day – Avoiding the Consequences of Lust (Part 3b) ★

 

If you’re interested in digging deeper, check out:

★ Thought for the Day – Stay the Course ★

★ Act Like Men – “Before the Fall” ★

Resources for those struggling with Sexual Integrity

Continue reading

★ Thought for the Day – Avoiding the Consequences of Lust (Part 3b) ★

In yesterday’s post (Part 3a) we introduced the dangers of pornography and promiscuity and how important it was to avoid yielding to these Temptations because they can escalate into more devastating sins.  We also discussed that sexual integrity is possible IF we will follow what the Word of God has to say.  If you haven’t read Part 3a I highly recommend that you do, because it sets the foundation for today’s Thought for the Day which we will see what happens when we don’t shut down the carnal desires inside of us and ignore the warnings signs.  Our case study is someone who probably thought he was too powerful to ever fall, but fall did he ever.  I am speaking of King David, a man after God’s own heart, (see 1 Samuel 13:14, Acts 13:22).

David was a complex man.  For those not familiar with him, he was youngest of (8) children who tended his father’s sheep and played the harp.  But before you think that he was soft or weak, we find out in 1 Samuel 17:34-36 that David would chase after lions and bears with nothing but a club after a lamb was stolen from the flock and killed them.  David is also known for slaying Goliath the Giant, the Philistine’s prized warrior who had come to wage war on the nation of Israel.  Eventually David became king over Israel and was referred to by God as a “Man of War” in 1 Chronicles 28:2-3!  By all accounts David was a mighty strong man, but though the King was able to overcome every nation that came against him, his undoing was his flesh!  Lust was his Achilles’ heel, his kryptonite, the one vulnerable chink in his armor that brought David to his knees, literally!  But I am getting ahead of myself; let’s continue to understand the man a little more.  In 1 Samuel 18:17-30, 25:39-42 and, 2 Samuel 3:2–5, 11:26-27, 5:13 the names of David’s (8) wives are listed.  And the in 2 Samuel 5:13 (NLT) it says:

“After moving from Hebron to Jerusalem, David married more concubines and wives, and they had more sons and daughters.”

David clearly had an overactive libido and his failure to master the temptation of lust caused him to go down a path I bet he never dreamed possible.  Whether you know the Bible well or not, you have probably heard something about David and Bathsheba, a story that reads much like a Shakespearean tragedy.  

You can read the whole story about David and Bathsheba in 2 Samuel 11:1-12:25 but here’s the Cliff Notes version of the sordid affair.  The chronicle of David and Bathsheba is a cautionary tale about adultery and how we must watch out for guideposts along the path of life alerting us to danger.  There were many warning signs and opportunities for David to “course correct” but he ignored each and every one of them.  I pray that this powerful King’s “fall from grace” will resonate with us that we can avoid the pitfall of lust.  Now we will be primarily speaking of a man’s failure to overcome lust but this is something that women need to be wary of the Satan’s traps like connecting with an old boyfriend on Facebook, sharing intimate details with a male friend / co-worker, or losing oneself in romance novels that could be considered a form of pornography in itself.  In response to a question about whether it is okay to watch the new 50 Shades of Grey movie, Mark Driscoll made this point about how to make good decisions…

“Whether it’s what movies to watch, what songs to listen to, or any other number of choices, determining the godliness of a decision depends on one simple question…Does this glorify Christ, or does it gratify my sinful desires?  Source: “Is It Ok To Watch 50 Shades Darker?” video 

Does this ___________ (fill in the blank) glorify Christ, or does it gratify my sinful desires?  That is a decision even man and woman needs to make for themselves.

Okay tangent is over; now back to David and his poor decisions.  It all started quite innocently.  David took a day off, or rather a season off.  Let me explain…unlike today, it was customary at that time for the King to go to battle with his troops.  David however stayed behind and one day after waking up from a nap he saw a beautiful woman bathing from the roof of his palace.  Red flag #1No problem, he saw something he shouldn’t so all he needs to do is just look away right?  Unfortunately he didn’t.  Instead, David inquired about who she was and the flame of flirtation was fanned.  But there’s no problem with flirting right?  It’s okay if he looks as long as he doesn’t touch right?  Maybe you are thinking that right now but that’s not what the Word of God instructs.  In Job 31:1 (NLT) it says:

“I made a covenant with my eyes not to look with lust at a young woman.”

This would be a passage of scripture David would have known about and yet he dismissed it clearly.  Jesus elevated the requirement when He said in Matthew 5:27-28 (NLT):

“You have heard the commandment that says, ‘You must not commit adultery.’  But I say, anyone who even looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”

I like how The Message translates verse 28

“But don’t think you’ve preserved your virtue simply by staying out of bed.  Your heart can be corrupted by lust even quicker than your body.  Those leering looks you think nobody notices—they also corrupt.”

Looking is not any better than touching and we need to realize that it will corrupt our heart.  So back to the story…David is told that Bathsheba is married and one would think that being “a man after God’s own heart” he will let it go right?  Nope.  Warning sign #2 ignored.  David sent messengers to bring Bathsheba to the palace and in 1 Samuel 11:4 it records that he slept with her.  We are not given any details about if it was coerced or consensual, but the sin of adultery was committed nonetheless.  Remember the verse we read in the last post from James 1:15?  When sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death, and such is the case with David because Bathsheba conceived after their affair!  I am reminded of Proverbs 6:26b-29 (NLT) which warns that:

“…sleeping with another man’s wife will cost you your life.  Can a man scoop a flame into his lap and not have his clothes catch on fire?  Can he walk on hot coals and not blister his feet?  So it is with the man who sleeps with another man’s wife.  He who embraces her will not go unpunished.”

Here’s guidepost #3 that the King would have been wise enough that he could have changed the downward spiral but instead of coming clean about the affair, David sends for her husband Uriah the Hittite to return back from the battle lines in order to try to cover up the illegitimate pregnancy.  But it turns out that Uriah was far more honorable than the King he served.  David tried to get him to sleep with Bathsheba twice, but her husband would not.  2 Samuel 11:11 says:

“Uriah replied, ‘The Ark and the armies of Israel and Judah are living in tents, and Joab and my master’s men are camping in the open fields.  How could I go home to wine and dine and sleep with my wife?  I swear that I would never do such a thing.’”

So here we land at the proverbial fork in the road with Signpost #4 in which David is out of options, it’s time to confess right?  Once again, the King ignores the peril and in 1 Samuel 11:14-15 we see how David arranged for Uriah’s Death:

“So the next morning David wrote a letter to Joab and gave it to Uriah to deliver.  The letter instructed Joab, ‘Station Uriah on the front lines where the battle is fiercest. Then pull back so that he will be killed.’”

Wow!  This passage has always been hard for me to understand because not only did David arrange for Uriah’s death, but he sent him to deliver his own death sentence all because of David’s adulterous lust and inability to take responsibility for his actions.  What’s even more shocking to me was the fact that Joab actually participated in the murder!  You know that the Bible is true by the fact that the dirty laundry is aired out for all to see.  God does not allow skeletons to be kept locked away in the closet.  Jesus said in Luke 8:17 (NLT),

“For all that is secret will eventually be brought into the open, and everything that is concealed will be brought to light and made known to all.”

Another warning from scripture is from Proverbs 6:32-34 (NLT) which says:

“But the man who commits adultery is an utter fool, for he destroys himself.  He will be wounded and disgraced.  His shame will never be erased.  For the woman’s jealous husband will be furious, and he will show no mercy when he takes revenge.”

Now in the case of Uriah, he never knew the betrayal of his King, but the truth remains, what is done in the dark will be exposed eventually and when it does, wrath will result from the spouse who was cheated on.  I have a friend who is walking through the healing process from committing adultery on his wife and I remember so clearly when he told me that the woman’s husband contacted him at work and the viciousness that was unleashed on him.

In the post called ★ Act Like Men – “Before the Fall” ★, I shared this powerful illustration that James MacDonald called the “5 Steps that get a man where he never planned to go” that explains the plunge that lust took David.

Each subsequent compromise led David one step further and further away from God.  James MacDonald made these two astute points:

“Feelings tend to become actions…What the mind desires, the will exercises and goes after.”  And… “When we dwell on desire, yielding is just a matter of time.”

Lust led him to progressively escalate his sin to cover the previous one.  Temptation works much like boiling a frog in water; the heat slowly builds until it is too late and then it is boiled alive.  The eventual consummation of sin is just the final nail in the coffin.  Conceding to temptation is a slow fade of the man or woman who fails to recognize the guideposts.  Here’s the sad fact about giving into temptation…

“You don’t realize all that you are giving up in the moment of temptation.”  Unknown

But Romans 13:14 (ESV) gives us the remedy!

“But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.”

There needs to be a zero tolerance approach to lust.  We read 1 Corinthians 6:18-20 in the last post that gives a very clear command!

“Flee from sexual immorality!”  And if we fail to, we need to repent and ask God to forgive us.  That is eventually what David did after God sent his prophet Nathan to confront him.  David confessed his guilt and had to face some pretty tough consequences.  2 Samuel 12:13-18a says:

“Then David confessed to Nathan, ‘I have sinned against the Lord.’

Nathan replied, ‘Yes, but the Lord has forgiven you, and you won’t die for this sin.  Nevertheless, because you have shown utter contempt for the word of the Lord by doing this, your child will die.’

After Nathan returned to his home, the Lord sent a deadly illness to the child of David and Uriah’s wife.  David begged God to spare the child.  He went without food and lay all night on the bare ground.  The elders of his household pleaded with him to get up and eat with them, but he refused.

Then on the seventh day the child died.”

Ouch!  David went from being referred to as a “Man after God’s own heart,” to becoming an adulterer, liar, conspirator and murderer.  And in the end he lost the child that was conceived as a consequence of his sin.

David cried out to God in Psalms 51:7-12 (NLT)

“Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Oh, give me back my joy again; you have broken me — now let me rejoice.  Don’t keep looking at my sins.  Remove the stain of my guilt.  Create in me a clean heart, O God.  Renew a loyal spirit within me.  Do not banish me from your presence, and don’t take your Holy Spirit from me.  Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and make me willing to obey you.”

Yes David was “a man after God’s own heart,” but a man still the same who was susceptible to the same temptations we all face. The trouble is he that he let his guard down and failed to overcome the lust within himself!  In our introductory post ★ Thought for the Day – Avoiding a Whole “LOT” of Trouble ★, we read the warning of 1 Corinthians 6:9-10  but today I want to look at the hope that the Apostle Paul gives in verses 11-13 (ESV)

“And such were some of you.  But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.  All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful.  ‘All things are lawful for me,’ but I will not be dominated by anything.  ‘Food is meant for the stomach and the stomach for food’ — and God will destroy both one and the other.  The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body.”

Verse 12 is so powerful…“I will not be dominated by anything.”  When we give into temptation we are no longer in control of our lives, making us vulnerable to the enemy’s attacks and a slave!

I will close with this council from my friend had when I asked him what he would share with someone who is trying to heal from the affair.  This is based on a male perspective but it certainly applies for a woman who may have committed adultery as well:

  • Boundaries, accountability, transparency, and honesty with God, your wife, and another man of God are fundamental to overcoming temptations regarding infidelity.
  • Healthy boundaries with the opposite sex are your first line of defense against this type of temptation, e.g. no personal friendships, no personal conversations, no private interactions.
  • Accountability partners that are not afraid to search your heart and ask the hard questions helps cover the areas that go beyond boundaries, e.g. thoughts and feelings.
  • Full transparency into every aspect of your life with God, your wife, and another man of God provides the best line of defense by shedding light on everything you do and removes the ability to hide anything.
  • Complete honesty, good, bad, or ugly, is necessary for any of this to work, whether trying to prevent infidelity from happening or healing afterwards.

Romans 12:1 (NLT) which says:

“And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you.  Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable.  This is truly the way to worship him.”

Don’t allow lust to enslave you, instead let your life and body be holy and pleasing to God!

Here is the next installment of the Temptation Series called:

★ Thought for the Day – Avoiding the Consequences of Gluttony (Part 4) ★

 

If you’re interested in digging deeper, check out:

★ Thought for the Day – Stay the Course ★

★ Act Like Men – “Before the Fall” ★

Resources for those struggling with Sexual Integrity

Continue reading

★ Thought for the Day – Avoiding the Consequences of Gluttony (Part 4) ★

Our Temptation Series continues today with us unpacking how to avoid the trap of Gluttony.  If you have missed the previous posts, here’s a quick recap:

  • We first introduced the series using Abraham’s Nephew “Lot” as a case study (click here).
  • We then studied about alcohol and drugs by focusing on Noah (click here),
  • Next was about Lust and exploring the connection between Pornography and Promiscuity (click here).
  • Most recently was the pitfall of adultery through the life of King David (click here).

Today’s topic is not one that I see discussed too often but one that I felt led to share because of a brother in my Lifegroup who has shared about the temptation to medicate his problems through food.  I would like to start off with this question…When you hear the word “gluttony” or someone who is a “glutton,” what comes to mind?  Food, overeating for sure, but how about someone who is obese or grossly overweight?  Now I am not being rude or unkind, that is what I thought a glutton was but that is not the case.  Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines it as:

“One given habitually to greedy and voracious eating and drinking.”  

And Dictionary.com defines it as:

“A person who eats and drinks excessively or voraciously.” 

Nothing in those definitions state that someone yielding to gluttony is overweight as I had initially thought.  For this Thought we will focus on the excessive indulgence of food.  I would dare say that most Americans could fit that description.  In our “SUPER-SIZED” Society we are prone to gorging ourselves way past what our bodies require for fuel.  In a Barna Research Group study, the #3 top self-reported temptations that Americas owned up to has to do with today’s pitfall!  According to survey:

“Fifty-five percent are often or sometimes overwhelmed by the temptation to eat too much.”  Source: New Research Explores the Changing Shape of Temptation

55% of Americans are overwhelmed by the temptation to eat too much!!  I stumbled across this graphic and found it quite interesting as to one reason that I never considered being a factor.  It got my head scratching that I need to reevaluate which plate that I grab out of the cupboard because I know myself; I am not disciplined in portion control and will just fill up every inch with food.  Therein lies the problem, Gluttony is a serious failure in self-discipline.  Todd Hunter made this great point in his book “Our Favorite Sins”

“Most of the time temptation begins with something good: food, rest, God-approved sex, the need to be loved and accepted.”

The problem is when we allow Satan to take something good and twist it around and pervert it to something evil.  That is how I see gluttony now.  As I prepared for this post, I started to search the Bible.  Surprisingly there is not much on the subject but what I did find was quite severe.  The first reference I found was Deuteronomy 21:18-21 (ESV).

“If a man has a stubborn and rebellious son who will not obey the voice of his father or the voice of his mother, and, though they discipline him, will not listen to them, then his father and his mother shall take hold of him and bring him out to the elders of his city at the gate of the place where he lives, and they shall say to the elders of his city, ‘This our son is stubborn and rebellious; he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton and a drunkard.’  Then all the men of the city shall stone him to death with stones.  So you shall purge the evil from your midst, and all Israel shall hear, and fear.” 

Harsh!  Stone the drunkard and glutton to death??  Boy I am glad this is not how they are treated today since I have fallen victim to both snares in my life!   Another reference is Proverbs 28:7 (ESV) which says:

“The one who keeps the law is a son with understanding, but a companion of gluttons shames his father.” 

And Proverbs 23:20-21 (ESV) warns:

“Be not among drunkards or among gluttonous eaters of meat, for the drunkard and the glutton will come to poverty, and slumber will clothe them with rags.” 

When I read this passage I felt convicted big time because of a recent trip to Texas de Brazil.  My project manager took the Architectural Team out for lunch as a thank you for all our hard work.  This is a picture of my plate which I am embarrassed to confess was just the beginning of all the meat I devoured.

The more I pondered on this and looked at the definition of a glutton, I realized that I am ensnared by the temptation of consuming way too much, way too often.  Our case study today also succumbed to his voracious appetite with disastrous consequences.  The man I am referring to is Esau.  For those not familiar with this Old Testament character here’s the cliff notes breakdown of this man of great potential whose undoing was a bowl of stew!

Esau was the son of Isaac and grandson of Abraham, (the patriarch of the Israelites).  He was the first-born son and had a twin brother named Jacob.  In Genesis 25:27-28 we are given some valuable insight to the man:

“When the boys grew up, Esau became a skillful hunter, a man of the field, but Jacob was a peaceful man, living in tents.  Now Isaac loved Esau, because he had a taste for game, but Rebekah loved Jacob.”

Just like in any family, siblings tend to be complete opposites.  I know that is the case for my daughters but one of the most disturbing differences between these twin brothers was the partiality from their parents.  If you were to contemporize the difference, Esau was a “man’s man,” who was a tough outdoors-man and Daddy’s favorite!  In that time period being the first-born son Esau was entitled for a double inheritance as well as the “blessing” from his father.  Ann Spangler and Robert Wolgemuth had this description of Esau:

“As a young man he was not accustomed to holding anything back.  He may have lived on the edge of danger, self-indulgence, and immediate gratification.  Having his father’s favor did nothing to inhibit this behavior.  But Esau had a serious problem—his brother Jacob.”  Source: From Men of the Bible: A One-Year Devotional Study of Men in Scripture

Esau’s younger brother Jacob was indeed a problem but we have to keep in mind that he was without a doubt the underdog, the forgotten son by his father and worse yet, he did not live up to what Dad was looking for in a son.  Effectively Jacob was “a momma’s boy” who was excessively influenced by and attached to his mother Rebekah (see Genesis 27 which tells of how she helped Jacob steal the blessing from Esau.)  But before Jacob stole the blessing, he was able to steal something just as valuable from Esau as a result of his lack of will power and gluttonous ways!  Genesis 25:29-34 (ESV) says:

“Once when Jacob was cooking stew, Esau came in from the field, and he was exhausted.  

And Esau said to Jacob, “Let me eat some of that red stew, for I am exhausted!” (Therefore his name was called Edom.)

Jacob said, “Sell me your birthright now.”

Esau said, “I am about to die; of what use is a birthright to me?”

Jacob said, “Swear to me now.”

So he swore to him and sold his birthright to Jacob.  

Then Jacob gave Esau bread and lentil stew, and he ate and drank and rose and went his way.  

Thus Esau despised his birthright.” 

A little dramatic no?  He gives up a double inheritance for some red stew!  On the surface you would think it was because of hunger, but I see it more about the failure to resist giving into instant gratification.  Charles Stanley had this great insight on Genesis 25:34…

“In ‘despising’ his birthright, Esau proved himself ‘godless’ (see Hebrews 12:16) because he considered filling his empty stomach more important than the spiritual promises of God to Abraham.  To avoid making Esau’s grave mistake, always remember the H. A. L. T. principle.  Whenever you are hungry, angry, lonely, or tired, be very careful because you are especially vulnerable to sin.  Before making a decision, stop and see God.  The more you give into your feelings of weakness and look for ways to fill your needs apart from God, the more you’ll reap the terrible consequences of it.”

Esau took his birthright for granted and threw it away just for a momentary fulfillment.  We need to be very careful when we are in these valley moments and remember the H. A. L. T. principle as it is applicable for all temptations we face.  Hebrews 12:16-17 (NLT) has this startling reference to Esau:

“Make sure that no one is immoral or godless like Esau, who traded his birthright as the firstborn son for a single meal. You know that afterward, when he wanted his father’s blessing, he was rejected. It was too late for repentance, even though he begged with bitter tears.”  

How sad that Esau lost everything to Jacob, in part because of gluttony.  That is why I love the Bible; God never hides the mistakes His people made in order that we could learn from it.

We talked in previous posts about the Fruit of the Spirit mentioned in Galatians 5:22-23:

The last fruit being “self-control.”  That is exactly what Esau was lacking.  As a believer in Jesus Christ, the same power that raised Jesus from the dead lives within us, (see Romans 8:11.)  The closer we get to Jesus, the more we should embody the Fruit of the Holy Spirit.  The temptation of Gluttony is all about excess and when we give into it we are going down a road like Esau.  John Piper had this to say:

“Gluttony is having a craving for food that conquers you.  The text of Scripture that holds out the challenge to me on this issue is 1 Corinthians 6:12where Paul says — specifically in regard to food and drink — that he will not be enslaved by anything.  He is saying, ‘I have one master, Jesus Christ, and I don’t want any other master.’”

If that verse sounds familiar, it is because we have discussed this in several posts already but it warrants review one more time.  1 Corinthians 6:12-14, 19-20 (ESV) says:

“‘All things are lawful for me,’ but not all things are helpful.  ‘All things are lawful for me,’ but I will not be dominated by anything.  ‘Food is meant for the stomach and the stomach for food’ — and God will destroy both one and the other.  The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body.  And God raised the Lord and will also raise us up by his power. 

Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God?  You are not your own, for you were bought with a price.  So glorify God in your body.” 

“The Body is the temple of the Holy Spirit,” is something I have heard pastors and others use in regards to weight control but in reality the context is about sexual immorality, (see the verses in between 6:15-18.)  But I do think it is applicable nonetheless as we should honor God with every aspect of our lives.  To that end, as I mentioned earlier, I asked the guys in my lifegroup for their perspective of what they had learned about temptation and addictions.  Here is what one had to say…

“Addiction is really a lot of the same chemical process.  The only real difference is the flavor of medication.

Temptation itself is not bad or sin.  Jesus was tempted in every way we are.  Sin happens when you give in to it.  Deep down turning from it involves seeking God…daily, and doing deep introspection to the root cause.  Why am I wanting to stuff my face what emotion is driving it?

Like sex addiction, food addiction is driven by emotion… specifically trying to medicate some deep wound.  A person needs to start asking themselves the question why!  Why do I want to eat?  What am I feeling?”

I love the honesty and truth in that statement!  It was only until recently that my friend shared about his struggles with overeating.  What a great warning to watch out if you are using food to medicate for deeper issues.  Be careful that you are not ignoring the red flags or trying to repress your emotions.  The key comes back to self-control!  Though this may seem like a lesser temptation, and not that big of a deal, Esau shows how when left unchecked, gluttony can result in some pretty significant consequences.  The other key is to realize that you did not get entangled in this particular sin overnight so it will take hard work and some time to break the sin habit.  I read this in ‘The Art Of Celebration’ Bible Reading Plan which I thought nailed it on the head:

“We may be frustrated with patterns of sin that repeat in our lives, our niggling character flaws and lack of discipline.  We may want “one-click” holiness.  But Jesus doesn’t wave a magic wand of saintly character over us. 

Don’t lose heart – He’s not finished with us yet.  He promises to finish what he started in us.  We can change.  He will change us.”

Don’t lose heart and trust God that He can and will help you in this area of temptation.  I will close with this final word from Psalm 34:8:

“Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man [or woman] who takes refuge in Him.”

If we want to break the cycle of sin-repent, sin-repent, we must take refuge in God!

Check back soon for the next installment of the Temptation Series called:

★ Thought for the Day – Avoiding the Consequences of Compromise (Part 5) ★

 

If you’re interested in digging deeper, check out:

 

 

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★ Thought for the Day – Avoiding the Consequences of Compromise (Part 5) ★

Our Temptation Series continues today with us unpacking how to avoid the Consequences of Compromise.  If you have missed the previous posts we first introduced the series using Abraham’s Nephew “Lot” as a case study (click here).  We then studied about alcohol and drugs (click here), pornography and promiscuity (click here), adultery (click here), and most recently gluttony (click here).

Last Sunday the pastor at my church said that Satan wants us to bail out or compromise which got me thinking about this Thought for the Day because you can see this happening constantly in our cultureToday we will delve into the pitfall of compromise.  If you have been following our blog, you know that this is a topic that we have explored quite a bit in the past; and that is because if this area is out of line, then every other part of your life will be affected.  If we say we are a Christian then we must be very careful not to allow things “to slip” in this department.  Now I am not living in a fantasy-land, I would love to say that all temptations goes away once you accept Christ as your savior but that would be denying what 1 Corinthians 10:12 (ESV) warns.

“Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall.”

Temptation is real and will never go away while we are on this side of heaven. And compromise is a slow fade…What we say, the jokes we laugh at, how act should align with the faith we profess.  I truly feel that how we handle ourselves should be the same regardless of who we are with.  What do you think about that?  Is that possible?  I can honestly say that I try to be the same person whether it is with my daughters, my wife, a co-worker, my pastor or a stranger.  Something that I have always tried to keep in mind is what I once heard motivational speaker, author and former pastor John Maxwell say:

“I am always one step away from stupid.”

What a humble statement and great wisdom too!  No matter how far along you are in your journey, you are always one bad decision away from blowing it!  In an instant we could ruin our legacy and reputation that we have built over a lifetime of good choices.  Peer pressure from friends, or demands from employers/clients, or one’s own ambition to climb the corporate ladder can exert a huge gravitational pull towards compromising our moral or ethical beliefs.  That is why we must heed the warning of 1 Corinthians and be mindful not to give into the enticements that satan dangles in front of us, whether it be cheating on an exam or our spouse, turning a blind eye to corruption or willingly partaking in it.  This may be cliché but you will never regret doing the right thing and not going along with what people are doing.  2 Corinthians 6:14-18 (NLT) instructs…

“Don’t team up with those who are unbelievers.  How can righteousness be a partner with wickedness?  How can light live with darkness?  What harmony can there be between Christ and the devil?  How can a believer be a partner with an unbeliever?  And what union can there be between God’s temple and idols?  For we are the temple of the living God.  As God said: “I will live in them and walk among them.  I will be their God, and they will be my people.  Therefore, come out from among unbelievers, and separate yourselves from them, says the Lord.  Don’t touch their filthy things, and I will welcome you.  And I will be your Father, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.””

When we allow ourselves to be influenced by how we will be perceived or to make choices that we know are not God honoring, we open ourselves to some devastating consequences.

Today’s case study fell victim to the trap of yielding to the court of public opinion.  Saul was the first king of the Israelites and was anointed by the prophet Samuel to lead.  On the outside, he appeared to be quite “kingly,” but on the inside he desired only to garner the people’s approval and would do anything for that affirmation.  For those not familiar with King Saul here’s the cliff notes version about this man.

We are first introduced to the man in 1 Samuel 9:1-2:

“There was a wealthy, influential man named Kish from the tribe of Benjamin.  He was the son of Abiel, son of Zeror, son of Becorath, son of Aphiah, of the tribe of Benjamin.  His son Saul was the most handsome man in Israel—head and shoulders taller than anyone else in the land.”

So Saul came from a wealthy family and looked the part as well.  In verse 17, he received a great endorsement from the prophet Samuel…

“When Samuel saw Saul, the Lord said, ‘That’s the man I told you about!  He will rule my people.’”

So he came from the right family, he looked the part and had the right supports.  Saul had everyone hoodwinked including the prophet of God.  It’s interesting though, when it came time to appoint Saul as King of Israel, he was nowhere to be found.  1 Samuel 10:21b-24 says:

“And finally Saul son of Kish was chosen from among them.  But when they looked for him, he had disappeared!  So they asked the Lord, “Where is he?”

And the Lord replied, “He is hiding among the baggage.”  So they found him and brought him out, and he stood head and shoulders above anyone else.

Then Samuel said to all the people, “This is the man the Lord has chosen as your king. No one in all Israel is like him!”

And all the people shouted, “Long live the king!”

“Long live the king!?”  The people cheered to receive a king that was “hiding among the baggage” at the time of appointment!  From the onset, Saul proved he did not have what it takes; you can read all about his reign in 1 Samuel 11-13.  As war continued with the Philistines, and hopelessness was spreading amongst the ranks, Saul’s true colors came out as he waited for Samuel.  1 Samuel 13:8-14 (NLT) recalls:

“Saul waited there seven days for Samuel, as Samuel had instructed him earlier, but Samuel still didn’t come.  Saul realized that his troops were rapidly slipping away.  So he demanded, “Bring me the burnt offering and the peace offerings!”  And Saul sacrificed the burnt offering himself.

Just as Saul was finishing with the burnt offering, Samuel arrived.  Saul went out to meet and welcome him, but Samuel said, “What is this you have done?”

Saul replied, “I saw my men scattering from me, and you didn’t arrive when you said you would, and the Philistines are at Micmash ready for battle.  So I said, ‘The Philistines are ready to march against us at Gilgal, and I haven’t even asked for the Lord’s help!’  So I felt compelled to offer the burnt offering myself before you came.”

“How foolish!” Samuel exclaimed. “You have not kept the command the Lord your God gave you.  Had you kept it, the Lord would have established your kingdom over Israel forever.  But now your kingdom must end, for the Lord has sought out a man after His own heart.  The Lord has already appointed him to be the leader of his people, because you have not kept the Lord’s command.”

As a result of not trusting in God and his desire to keep his men in line, Saul violated God’s command that only his prophet could present the offering so he lost the kingdom as a result of giving into compromise!  The same can happen to us in our jobs, our marriages or our friendships if we too follow in the way of Saul.  I got this fortune cookie once that I thought was priceless…

“Do not mistake temptation for opportunity.”

We need to practice discernment and realize that it is our choice as to what we give into.  Now I don’t subscribe to fortune cookie wisdom, so let’s see what the Bible says…

“No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man.  God is faithful, and He will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation He will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.”  1 Corinthians 10:13

Satan doesn’t make us do anything; we make the decision whether or not to compromise.  This is something that I am hoping has come through loud and clear that yielding to temptation is on us but if we trust God He will help us through it!  Living a life of truth is everything!  In the post ★ “Back to the Basics” – Pursuit #2 – What Are You Feeding On? ★, we discussed all about the attacks of satan, spiritual warfare and the importance of putting on the Armor of God.  In Ephesians 6:14 (NLT) it says:

“Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness.”

The Belt of Truth is intended to hold everything together.  The Apostle Paul gave this advice because without living a life of integrity everything will fall apart.  Proverbs 21:21 (ESV) has this promise for everyone who will choose a different path:

“Whoever pursues righteousness and kindness will find life, righteousness, and honor.”

But will we choose to pursue the tough road, the road to righteousness?  Or will go the much simpler, more traveled road of compromise?  I will close this with this thought from Jimmy Evans:

“There’s a difference between committing a sin and practicing a sin.”  

We all make mistakes; the key is what you do once you have made it.  Will you continue in that compromise or sin, or will you come clean with God and set things straight.  The starting point goes back to trusting God.  We need to daily renew our mind and our relationship with our heavenly Father in order to serve God in our school, friendships, vocations and our families!  That is why this site is called “Daily Dependence,” because we all need to keep Christ at the center of our lives!  What will you choose to do?

 

If you’re interested in digging deeper, check out:

★ Thought for the Day – Got Values? ★

★ Thought for the Day – How Important is Integrity? ★

★ Thought for the Day – Stay the Course…Part 2 ★

★ Thought for the Day – Talent vs. Integrity ★  

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