Not a Sermon only a Thought

The Process of Temptation

1 Corinthians 10:12-13

Many people act as if there’s no defense against temptation. With the first hint of desire, they immediately throw their hands up and give in to every little enticement. Can you relate to this? What we must realize is that temptation is a gradual process, and it can be short-circuited at any stage.

Temptation usually begins in the mind, where we live out imagined scenarios. The human mind has an amazing capacity to create entire exchanges and experiences out of nothing. Through fantasy, we can enjoy something without ever bringing it into the real world. Therefore, since it’s not real, we think it’s perfectly harmless.

But a fantasy world leads to a downward spiral of enslavement. Ultimately, our thoughts become so wrapped around the one temptation that it seems impossible to think of anything else. At this point, our minds are held captive by the desire. No matter where we go or what we do, we can’t outrun our own thoughts! And when our life becomes focused on anything other than God, we are trapped.

But the Lord is faithful and will provide the way of escape. Since temptation begins in the mind, that’s where the battle should be waged. The only way to disrupt the process is by filling our minds with the Word of God. As we continually feed on a hearty diet of Scripture, the Word will work in us— uprooting sin, transforming our thoughts, and overcoming the tempting fantasy. The Bible is powerful! We can trust it to set us free from the burden of temptation.

Protection Through Strengthening

While writing to Timothy, Paul was in prison experiencing physical discomfort, personal attack, and desertion. Why would God allow His faithful servant to endure such suffering? Why didn’t the Lord step in and protect him?

At times God doesn’t rescue us from suffering because He is providing something better. We may feel as if He’s abandoned us, but in reality, He is protecting us—not by deliverance but through strengthening.

When trouble pays you a visit, view it from the Lord’s perspective and ask yourself:

• Which is a greater demonstration of God’s power—changing something around me or changing something within my heart?
• Which is the greater faith builder—seeing the Lord’s deliverance from every difficulty or experiencing His presence and strengthening in the midst of trials?
• Which reward is greater—quick relief from pain or tested and refined faith that will result in praise and glory when Christ returns (1 Peter 1:7)?
• Which answer to prayer is greater—that the Lord has removed something and given me external peace, or that He’s left me in a trial and given an internal peace, which cannot be stolen even by painful circumstances?

Does the Lord have to fix something in order for you to be happy? If He removes a difficult situation, you may never learn that He truly is sufficient for everything you need. Instead, allow Him to change you, and you’ll discover genuine joy in whatever circumstance may come your way.

In Search of Wholeness

Take an honest look at your life. Do you feel whole and complete, or is there the sense that something’s missing? If you’re aware of an emptiness, what are you using to try and fill that void? Is it relationships with family and friends? Or have you opted for achievements, hoping they will bring a sense of significance? Maybe you use a substance or activity of some kind to deaden the ache or provide temporary comfort.

Jesus met a woman with just such an empty place in her soul. She was longing for a healthy relationship but had been repeatedly rejected. In those days, a man could divorce his wife simply because she displeased him in some way. The Samaritan woman had gone through this rejection five times and was now seeking to fill her soul with a man who wasn’t her husband.

She probably tried to cover up her hurt so those nearby wouldn’t notice, but when Jesus met her at the well and told all that she had done, her days of hiding were over. She had finally found the One who could bring wholeness to her life. Before you can fill the emptiness in your soul, you must likewise let Christ’s piercing gaze penetrate into the depths of your heart and reveal the root cause of your incompleteness.

We were created for God. All other pursuits are inadequate substitutes and will never bring the lasting satisfaction we are seeking. Life has a way of beating us down, leaving us depleted and disillusioned. But when we allow Jesus Christ unrestricted access to our hearts, He fills us up with His unfailing love.

The Fullness of God in You

Have you ever wondered if you are a “whole person”? We all have struggles in life that could make us feel incomplete, but the apostle Paul says we can be “filled up to all the fullness of God” (Eph. 3:19). What does that look like?

A whole person is generally satisfied with life. He feels loved and is able to love others in return. Difficulties and hardships don’t devastate him, because he is able to go through them with confidence in God. He isn’t a complainer or someone who’s quick to blame others. A positive attitude guards his mind since he knows that the Lord will work everything out for good (Rom. 8:28).

Being a Christian doesn’t automatically make us feel complete. Fullness comes only when we experience God’s love. For many years, I knew theologically that the Lord loved me. I even preached about it, but I didn’t really feel it. Only after I took a deep look at my life and started dealing with events that had fractured my soul in childhood did I begin to experience His love in a personal way. Once I felt the security of His love for me, I discovered great joy from walking in obedience to His will. The reason was that I knew I could trust Him to meet all my needs in His time and way.

Do you feel the Lord’s love, or do you see it as just a biblical fact? If you long for wholeness, the key is to genuinely experience a one-on-one relationship with Jesus Christ. This is possible only when you are willing to open up and let the Lord search your heart. He will reveal what’s holding you back from accepting His love.

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