North Santa Rosa

Living With Purpose

    What started as a simple children’s lesson about the struggle between right and wrong, quickly turned into a child’s testimony of faith. While serving as pastor in a small country church I asked one of my deacons to provide a rope for the children to participate in a tug-of-war match simulating the struggle of God (good) versus Satan (evil). During the worship service I had the kids evenly divided on both sides. After a short tug-of-war between the two teams, I reminded the children and congregation that life is like tug-of-war and temptation can be strong. We need Jesus to help us overcome the devil. And before I could finish my sentence a four-year-old boy, named Hunter, jumped up and said, “We must all listen to Jesus, and no devil!”    There’s no doubt this little boys’ parents have been teaching him about the powers of good and evil and he shared it with the young and old at church that day. I’ll never forget the sincere boldness and authority with which this young man spoke.

    The Bible clearly states, “If you think your 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” (1 Corinthians 10-12-13). There is a three-part structure to temptation and winning the struggle of doing good versus doing the wrong thing.

    First, SATAN PRESENTS THE TEST. Every single person is subjected to temptation. It’s a daily game of tug-of-war. Temptation is common to us all. We spare ourselves untold heartaches when we say, “No!” to the devil and do not venture into his territory. There’s an age-old excuse when it comes to our shortcomings: “The devil made me do it.” We are prone to blaming others for our faults. And contrary to popular belief, the devil never makes us do anything, but he sure waves the flag of distraction and dissent while leading the charge to the unrighteous way. The choice always “looks good” when Satan presents it. He is a trick-meister and often tempts the mind. Temptation does not become sinful unless one yields to it. Christ was tempted in every way, but he didn’t yield. He is our example. Hebrews 4:14-16 says, “Jesus, our High Priest, understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same tests we do, yet he did not sin. So, let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There, we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most”.

    The second part to winning the tug-of-war is to, PERFORM OUR BEST. Many of us fail in this way. We fail because we think we can handle it on our own. We want to see how near to sin we can get without getting burnt and remain a Christian. In our quest for victory we must constantly do our best to overcome the attacks of Satan. Remember what Hunter told us to do? —say, “No!” to the devil. The Bible reminds us to resist the devil and he will flee. At the same time, if we draw near to God, He will draw near to us (James 4:8). We need God on our side helping us to pull the rope with all our might. We can also defeat Satan through prayer and quoting God’s Word as Christ did. God knows we are weak, and He requires no more of His children than they “are able” to bear.

    Once while on duty as a Battalion Chaplain for my army unit, a sergeant came to me and asked, “Chaplain, what can I do when I’m faced with doing something, I know is wrong? How can I keep from giving in?”

    I reminded him that its completely his choice—yes or no. However, there’s an unseen force that is luring him to the wrong and there in lies the struggle. You can try yourself, but that’s why you struggle. We need to choose the help of the Spirit; with Him all things are possible. I went on to explain to this soldier he must convince himself that the wrong is not for him. It’s never the right time to do the wrong thing if the situation is clear. It can be hard if a circumstance is vague or all the facts are not known. That’s why making a wise decision requires us to pause and gain clarity of the situation. For when we practice good judgement and weigh the costs, we perform our best, which leads to the third and final part.

    GOD PROVIDES THE REST. God promises “to make a way of escape”. The trouble for many is they blatantly choose to ignore it. When Satan strikes, you must do your best to resist. We are enabled, by His Spirit, to triumph through Him who loves us.

    Satan presents tests, temptations, troubles, and trials, but Christians must keep on working, praying, trusting, and believing God’s Word. When we have performed our best, God will provide the rest—not only in this life, but He offers eternal rest in the life to come. No more temptations—what a glorious thought!

• This bi-weekly column is written by Matthew Dobson. He’s a health educator for the State of Florida, U.S. Army Reserve Chaplain, and the Pastor of New Bethel Baptist Church in the New York Community. His “Living With Purpose” Book series can be found and purchased on www. Amazon.com. You can contact him by email: rmdobson@liberty.edu.

Posted by on Nov 24 2019. Filed under Church News, Churches, Living With Purpose, Local, Top News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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