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The Sixth Petition

May 30, 2018

The Two Great Biblical Analogies of Temptations

  1.  THE COLLAR

    Have you ever had someone take you by the collar… or some other body part… and drag you off???

    I grew up with a boy that I think he had ADHD.  He was ALWAYS getting himself in trouble, and I personally witnessed him being dragged off by some teacher to the principal’s office.  I have a picture of him brazened in my head being dragged off by my fourth-grade teacher a former linebacker for the Denver Broncos.  It looked like a big old grizzly bear dragging around one of its naughty little cub. Things were different in the 60’s when I grew up.

    Watching the news… it’s very common these days to see people being dragged off by police officers.  So often someone will cry out, “FOUL… police brutality! What did they do to deserve that!”  People don’t like it when adults get dragged off!

     I’ve seen a many people dragged off in my life.  Most of them NOT by the collar… or the arm… hair or legs.  Most of the dragging off I’ve seen is SPIRITUAL… and that’s tougher to watch than the physical.  Remember Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane???  Jesus told his disciples not to fall asleep... “Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation”.  “Watch and Pray”, Jesus told them.  That was the answer to temptation!  But the devil brought his sleepiness, and guess what?  They were dragged off into their slumber by the Tempter.

    The Apostle James explains, “Each person is tempted into sin when he is dragged off…”  Temptation sometimes feels like something has grabbed you.  And you’re about to be dragged off.  But that doesn’t mean you have to be dragged off.  The devil can pull, and yank, he can try and try, but he cannot you into sin.  When we sin, is when we stop fighting back.  We consent to it.  We stop resisting.  We give in.  So we pray, “Lead us not into temptation.”

    Our prayer life needs this prayer, as much, if not more, than our prayer for daily bread or for forgiveness!!!  Prayer is a MAJOR way to resist being dragged off by evil.  We are pray when temptation comes to drag us off we do not comply with the sin.  Rather we look to Christ.  We repent.  And with the help of the Holy Spirit we turn away from the sin that comes to trouble us so.

    I like to think of Old Testament Joseph and conniving Potiphar’s wife.  Day after day Potiphar’s wife said to Joseph, “Take me!!!”  And Joseph said, “How can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?”  One day Joseph was in the house alone doing his work.  Potiphar’s wife “caught him only partially dressed” and went to take Him by the collar!   ‘Take  me.’ She said!”  But Joseph wouldn’t be dragged off.  He left his garment in her hand and fled.

    Here’s the Biblical promise we can fall back on… “No temptation has taken 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.”

    2. THE LURE

Another picture of spiritual temptation is the LURE.  James says, “Each person is tempted into sin when they are dragged off… AND LURED AWAY!”  I have all sorts of colorful, flashy fishing lures in my tackle box.  None of them are edible.  Steal and plastic shouldn’t be eaten.  But, they also have hooks.  Lures are used to FOOL the fish… and hook them.  

Sometimes the devil understands that grabbing and pulling will not be nearly as effective as enticing and seducing.  This is the tactic he employed in the Garden of Eden.  He twisted the good fruit that God had made into a harmful lure with which he could capture mankind.  The devil spoke with smooth, serpentine words, and then when the woman looked at the fruit of the tree, she “saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise.”  She took the bait, and so did Adam.

Now once again, just because there’s tempting bait present does not mean that sin must follow. The presence of a lure is not sin.  Yet the fact remains that temptation only becomes sin when we take the bait.  Jesus says, “Temptations to sin are sure to come.”  But sin doesn’t have to follow.  You don’t have to bite.

Back to that verse in the book of James… “Each person is tempted when he is dragged away and lured by his own desire.”  “Your own desire”, it says.  Its not the lure that's sinful, it’s the desire for the lure.  Pray about your desires!

There is a source of temptation within us – our sinful nature – which is so tragically allied with the devil and the world that it drags itself off and lures and baits itself.  The Apostle Paul put it this way, “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?”  But he doesn’t say this in despair and hopelessness.  In the same breath he says, “Thanks be to God, through Jesus Christ our Lord!”  We have hope and help in the midst of temptation!!! 

Our Help and Hope

Jesus is our hope and help!!!  He, TOO, was grabbed and lured by the devil.  Yet he resisted every time.  Contrary to what many people believe… He didn’t do this “to set an example for us”.  He did it to conquer.  He did it to win the victory for us.  He is our spotless, and perfect sacrifice.  And so we claim HIS ACTIONS as OUR VICTORY in all matters of being DRAGGED off or LURED away.  The Bible says, “For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.”  It says, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.  In prayer… then… draw near to the throne of God’s grace and find grace for help in time of need.

Pray, as Jesus wanted his disciples to pray in that Garden of betrayal, “Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation.”  This prayer does not have to be eloquent, or long, or calm.  This prayer is simply a cry for help, the bleating of a little lamb who needs the Good Shepherd to come rescue him: “Lord, help me!”

And Jesus will assuredly answer.  He will come to you, even as He has been with you all the time.  He will rescue you.  He will vindicate you.  He will set you free. The forgiveness he offers all of you is the means by which we can all put our trust in Him! 

Forgiveness drives the devil away like deet drives away mosquitoes.  The devil wants you to be haunted by your sins, and fall into temptation.  But when a person like you or I experience the forgiveness of our Lord… the devil can only run away.  You might say, “He is dragged off by the collar into his eternal ruin!”  

So in your prayers see forgiveness.  Be honest about your sin.  Grow in your love and trust of the Savior!  And thus, with the forgiveness of our sins, Christ himself continues to conquer temptation, and he makes us noble knights who ride with him, who by his grace fight and resist and overcome.  Even if we should become unsaddled, Christ lifts us up, and brushes off the dirt of sin, and makes us valiant with his strength.  And at the last, the strife will be over.  Jesus will take us to himself where no hand can drag us off… and no lure to may entice us away.

AMEN



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