Avoiding Temptation Ahead


Prayer

The other day, while at a stop light, I heard sirens. Second later, I saw an ambulance to my right turn right. Soon after, my light turned green, the barrage of stop lights ahead turned green, and I headed the direction of the ambulance.

Moments later, I noticed several emergency vehicles, including a helicopter, blocking the street. The line of cars, trucks, and other vehicles backed up as police directed traffic.

Rather than waiting in traffic, I turned right into the parking lot of a CVS, grabbed a few items in the store, and asked someone how to navigate the side streets. I left the parking lot, turned the direction I was told, and navigated my way through the side streets and to the other side of the accident.

It probably took me longer to navigate my way through the side streets than it would have to just wait, but I would rather go the long route and feel like I’m making progress than wait and feel stagnant.

Directions through Prayer

Do you take the time to notice times of temptation ahead in your life? Do you go to God in prayer and ask how to navigate your way around temptation? Or do you follow the easy route of our own selfish desires and go through the pains and struggles of temptation? When we see temptation ahead, we don’t have to give into it. God made a way for us to get around temptations.

Matthew 19: 16, 21-22

“Now, behold, one came to him and said, ‘Good teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?'”

“Jesus said to him, ‘If you wish to be perfect, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in Heaven; and come follow me.'”

“But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.”

Are you asking God for directions? Are you taking the directions He’s given you, or are you giving into temptation because a deeper relationship with God would mean giving up something you are not ready to give up?

Signals of Temptation Avoiding Temptation through prayer

I was able to bypass the scene because I was aware of it. I saw the flashing red lights of the firetrucks and heard the roaring blades of the helicopter. Had I not paid attention to those signals and made the decision to turn until it was too late, I would have had to have gone through the scene of the accident. Life is sometimes like that. When we are not paying attention to those signals of temptation, we find ourselves giving into temptation.

I Corinthians 10:13

“No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.”

Sirens of Accountability

Remember that ambulance I was following. Well, the driver knew exactly where they were going and why. They knew what was ahead because they had been to similar scenes. They were called out to help the person going through those difficult times. All of the emergency vehicles I saw that afternoon were called out from somewhere to help those people going through those difficult times and to warn innocent bystanders of difficult times ahead.

Those emergency vehicles are like friends, accountability partners, Bible study leaders, pastors, etc. whom God puts in our lives. They’ve been to similar scenes before. They warn us of what is ahead. We need to find strong Christians, like those emergency vehicles, who will speak truth into our lives and help us avoid times of temptation.

Proverbs 27:17

“Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.”

Ecclesiastes 4: 9,10

Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!

Side Streets of the Word

Going through the side streets took me a little longer than it should have. I made some wrong turns, but I eventually got to the other side of the accident. God gives us side streets so we can navigate our way around temptation. He knows we do and will go through difficult times in our lives, but that doesn’t mean we need give into the route of temptation.

God’s word provides directions of how to navigate our way around temptations. We read and memorize verses that speak to situations we are going through. Staying in His word helps us navigate our way around those temptations. And the more we stay in His word, the easier it becomes to navigate our way around temptation.

Joshua 1:8

“This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.”

There you go. Pray, stay accountable (fellowship), and commit yourself to studying and memorizing God’s word. I am not saying the detour around temptation will be easy. I am not even saying you will make the right decision and avoid temptation every time. I am saying the more you go to God in prayer, listen to those God puts in your life to warn you of temptation, and stay in His word the easier it will be to avoid the snares of temptation.

Oh yeah, for those concerned about the victims of the accident, I saw a fireman later that afternoon who was on the scene. He said everyone was alright.

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Becoming a Battle Ready Christian – Wielding Weapons of Warfare

Sword Fight

When I was younger, I would get into doctrinal debates with other Christians. We debated over scripture for hours, trying to convince each other that our doctrinal positions were correct. Not only did we risk a division in our friendship, but we also risked division in the body of Christ and hindered the furthering of the Kingdom of God. I learned many years ago that using the Word of God for such purposes is detrimental to Christianity.

In last week’s blog, I compared the role of a Battle Ready Christian to that of a sniper. Snipers can’t do their jobs unless they bring their rifles and other weapons of warfare. And they don’t use them to target soldiers on their side.

In the same way, Battle Ready Christians carry weapons of Warfare—the Sword of the Spirit (Eph 6:17; Heb. 4:12), which is the Word of God. That doesn’t mean carry your Bible with you everywhere you go. It means know the Word of God well and use it in the way God means for to be used. While it is sometimes necessary to use the word of God to restore a Christian found in sin (Gal. 6:1), a Battle Ready Christian does not use the weapon of their warfare for selfish purposes. Here’s how you use the Sword of the Spirit.

Using Weapons of Warfare

2 Cor 10:4-6

  • Pull down strongholds
  • Cast down arguments
  • Cast down whatever exalts itself against God
  • Brings every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ
  • Punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled
In vs 4, Paul tells his audience that the weapons of our warfare are not carnal. If the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, then Battle Ready Christians cannot be carnal, and they do not focus on the carnal.

Carnal Christians

I Cor 3:1-4

  • Are babes in Christ – V. 1
  • Can only receive milk – V. 2
  • Marked by envy, strife, and divisions – V. 3
  • Behave like mere men and women – V. 3
  • Are doctrinally prideful – V. 4

Of those two lists, which one describes you? Do you know the word of God well enough that you can use it to pull down strongholds, cast down arguments, and use it for God’s glory? Or do you use it for your glory? Battle ready Christians study the word of God and use it to build the Kingdom of God, not to tear it down.

If you haven’t opened your Bible in a while, other than in church, read it. If you read and study your Bible, but you use it to build your ego and not the Kingdom of God, stop. You are using the Word of God for selfish purposes (Phil. 2:3). That doesn’t mean don’t have discussions with Christians and even non-Christians about your differences in beliefs. It may even mean that you will have to use it such a way that causes offense. Christ, the Apostle Paul, and many others chastised others with the word of God. But make sure you are using it to build the Kingdom of God and not your ego.

Becoming a Battle Ready Christian – Preparing Your Mind for Battle

Battle Ready Action Figures

Battle Ready Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Do you know what a battle ready action figure is? It’s just what it sounds like. It’s an action figure that’s ready to fight battles.

First, let’s get something straight! A doll is not an action figure, and an action figure is not a doll. C’mon parents, how many times has your kid reminded you of this truth!

Dolls vs Action Figures

  • Dolls carry combs and mirrors. Battle ready action figures carry weapons of warfare!
  • Dolls pluck and tweeze their eyebrows. Battle ready action figures shave with a machete!
  • Dolls get mani-pedis at the spa. Battle ready action figures don’t care if they break a nail (or a tooth)!
  • Dolls consider fitness fashionable. Battle ready action figures muscles’ have muscles (and working out is a survival skill!)!
  • Dolls scream when they see bugs. Battle ready action figures raise a battle cry when they attack!

Now chances are in your everyday life, you’re more like a doll than a battle ready action figure. That’s okay, so am I. The closest I’ve ever come to shaving with a machete is shaving with a razor with a dull blade and no shaving cream. The good news is even though you may be a doll in your day to day life, you can be a battle ready Christian.

Are you a battle ready Christian? You’re in the middle of a war zone, so I hope you’re battle ready. If you don’t think you are, know that Christ equipped you with everything you need to become battle ready.

In Ephesians 6:10-18, Paul talks about putting on the full armor of God. He begins with the word, “Finally,” which always sums up an argument or line of reasoning. In this case, you need to go back to the fourth chapter to read the beginning of Paul’s line of reasoning.

Ephesians 4:17-24

17 So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking.

18 They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts.

19 Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, and they are full of greed.

20 That, however, is not the way of life you learned

21 when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus.

22 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires;

23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds;

24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

Paul tells his audience not to walk in the futility of their their thinking. They need to identify and overcome the futility of their thinking.

Identifying the Futility of Your Thinking

  • Your understanding is darkened (V. 18)
  • You are alienated from the life of God (V. 18)
  • You are ignorant (V. 18)
  • You have hardened your heart (V. 18)
  • You’ve lost all sensitivity (V. 19)
  • You gave yourself over to all sensuality (V. 19)
  • You indulge every kind of impurity (V. 19)
  • You are full of greed (V. 19)
  • Your old self is being corrupted by deceitful lusts (V. 22)

Overcoming the Futility of Your Thinking

  • Put off your old self (V. 22)
  • Be made new in the attitude of your mind (V. 23)
  • Put on your new self (V. 24)

In Ephesians 6, before Paul talks about the Armor of God, he says, “Be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might” (Eph. 6:10). He’s telling them that before they put on the full armor of God they need to be battle ready. They needed to put off their old self. They need to be made new in the attitude of their mind. And they need to put on their new self.

Are you battle ready? Have you put off your old self? Are you renewing the attitude of your mind? Are putting on your new self? What’s holding you back? Become battle ready! Before a soldier goes into battle, they are trained to be mentally prepared.

Training to Be a Battle Ready Christian

  • Find and get involved in a good church
  • Get on your knees and pray
  • Study the word of God
  • Memorize scripture

There is so much more I could say on the topic, and I welcome discussion in the comments below. I guarantee you the more you do these things, and make them part of your daily and weekly preparation in Christ, the more battle ready you will become. Come back next week. You won’t want to miss it. I’m going to keep writing about Becoming a Battle Ready Christian.