..but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.
Sometimes we’re too quick to blame our temptation on the Devil and the culture. Is it true that temptation arises from these sources? Yes, it is. However, often times our temptation originates from within. It begins when we are dragged away and enticed. What does that mean? It means our focus shifts away from what matters most and we become distracted with what fulfills the least. Many of us have reels of old footage from past porn binges, affairs, strip clubs and chat lines that we can recollect and thereby be enticed. When we engage that footage and allow ourselves to fantasize about it we are being dragged away; or to put it in context of the verse, we are dragging ourselves away. Where is that going to lead us?
We also experience temptation as a form of dealing with our emotions. Some of us have learned that emotions such as anger, insignificance, loneliness, rejection, fear, failure and disappointment can be numbed and soothed by engaging sexual thoughts. Unfortunately, it is easier to engage those thoughts and medicate rather than to deal with the emotions appropriately. It was very difficult for me to accept this truth and to learn to deal with my emotions in healthy ways. It was especially difficult to learn how to process my emotions with other people. I wanted to keep it all bottled up and to myself. I didn’t want to weigh anyone down with my junk. I wanted people to think I had it altogether; that I wasn’t needy. The truth is: we’re all needy and sometimes we have to get needy out loud.
Whether to numb feelings or to excite ourselves, we are giving birth to sin and ultimately that will give way to death. We have to take ownership for our self-temptation and be willing to engage our neediness, and surrender ourselves to God.
A couple of questions to consider:
1 – In what ways do you tempt yourself, effectively dragging yourself away to be enticed?
2 – Have you turned these things over to God and others? If not, how about telling God and others about it today.
Even men who don’t want to be like their fathers often turn out to be amazingly similar in their behaviors and personalities. Through the power of God and hard personal choices, however, it’s possible to break out of an ongoing spiral of sin and dysfunction.
Take Josiah, for example. Josiah was a young king who chose to stand against a virtual tidal wave of disobedience fostered by his grandfather Manasseh and his father, Amon. Breaking from this downward spiral was particularly difficult since Josiah had little knowledge to guide his actions. The Scriptures containing God’s laws had been lost for years. But when the high priest discovered the Book of the Law in the Temple, young Josiah immediately initiated spiritual renewal for himself and his people.
As a result, Josiah was able to break the cycle of sin that had captured Israel in its whirl. Josiah was not a perfect man but he was a true champion of spiritual renewal. He was committed to God and had the courage to pursue both personal and national renewal.
Josiah made the difficult choices necessary in order to ‘cut loose’ from the sins of the past and to build a new life for himself and the people of Judah. Are you like Josiah? Do you need to make a break from the past in order to build a new life for yourself? I hope you’ll seek the same powerful God who renewed Josiah.
A life that’s been set free from sin is a beautiful sight. When you turn from your sin and live a life more in tune with God, you testify to the glory of God and give others hope that he can change their lives. You know that the suffering, affliction, and brokenness come from going and doing things your own way. You know what its like to be enslaved to your passions. Yet you should also know there is more to life than bondage’more to life than alcohol or pornography ‘more to life than envy and jealousy’more to life than work or football. There is healing and freedom. There is beauty and joy. There is love, forgiveness, and mercy.
And you have the wonderful privilege of proclaiming this Good News to those around you, both in your vocal testimony and in the testimony of your life. I love the saying: Go out and preach Jesus to all you meet, and when necessary, use words.
When you surrender your life to Jesus, he’ll put you on a path of new life. Your salvation is assured, and now you will live a life of gratitude. You’ll change from the inside out because God got a hold of you. Others will notice, and God will be given the honor and glory.