Point of Reference
by Fred Price
Some of you are on your own for the first time in your lives while others have been there for a while; but we all have to deal with making good decisions and choosing the right path. And while the prospect of making up your own mind and choosing your own way is exciting, it isn’t always as easy as it appears. Temptation taking the form of tests, trials, or enticements that cause you to consider doing or wanting what is wrong, forbidden or hurtful. The fact that sin can be made to appear attractive – disguising its real consequences – makes it difficult to discern and decide; while some things are indeed attractive and good, but only in their proper time.
Are you tempted by things others are not? Are you able to easily withstand temptation in areas where others quickly fall? Absolutely! Most temptation being common to us all, but we are all individuals with our own peculiar weaknesses and strengths. The Bible asserting that, “There is no one righteous, not even one;...” Romans 3:10 “...for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,...” Romans 3:23 Likewise assuring us that, “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” 1 Corinthians 10:13
If we are all susceptible to temptation and have been victimized by it, what are we to do? First we need to understand that to be tempted is not sinful, giving in to temptation is. But how much control do we really have? Occasionally we are surprised by temptation in an unguarded moment or circumstance. But much of the time we place ourselves in situations we know we are likely to be tempted by. That is why it is so important to be on guard as to what we expose ourselves to. ( Proverbs 4:23) In doing so, we should be able to make better decisions about what to involve ourselves in.
“When tempted, no one should say, ‘God is tempting me!’ For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire he is dragged away and enticed. Then after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.” James 1:13-15 This progression of sin often starting when we “tempt fate” by placing ourselves in harm’s way, thinking we an handle a chancy situation rather than being handled by it or actually being excited by the dangers inherent in risky behavior. A contest – how far can I go without being hurt – or getting caught? And when things don’t work out as expected, we blame God!
Jesus instructed his disciples to, “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.” Warning them that, “The spirit is willing but the body is weak.” Matthew 26:41 Which is a key principle to withstanding temptation, because whether we stand or not often depends on how well-grounded or disciplined we are in God’s word. As, “Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates correction is stupid.” Proverbs 12:1 (Pretty blunt, huh?) We are then further promised that, “...the Lord knows how to rescue godly men from trials and to hold the unrighteous for the day of judgment.” 2 Peter 2:9 (His preference and purpose being to bring salvation to all men depending on their response to his call of “Come, follow me.” See John 3:16-18 & 2 Peter 3:9)
He knows it can be difficult, that it takes effort, as He underwent the same types of temptation and stood strong. As a result He is willing, even eager to assist us. “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weakness, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet was without sin.” Hebrews 4:15 As a result, “Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.” Hebrews 2:18
Jesus provided the ultimate example, being led by the spirit – not dragged by the evil one – but led by the Holy Spirit into the desert to be tempted. ( Matthew 4:1-11) Our responses must mirror His if we are to survive, answering every temptation and all their implications with the word of God. “Away from me Satan! For it is written...” Matthew 4:10
We do that by, “...be(ing) strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put(ing) on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore, put on the full armor of God so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground,…” Ephesians 6:10-13 And what does that armor consist of? The belt of truth and the body-covering of righteousness gained through knowledge of God. Our feet ready, even eager to approach others about God, which comes from understanding the gospel. The shield of faith and helmet of salvation protecting us from the devil’s schemes as we wield the sword of the spirit; the good news of Jesus Christ. ( Ephesians 6:14-17)
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Fred Price - married (49 years), father of two grown children, grandfather of six.
Fred retired earlier this year after 42 years as a factory worker. He has always had a heart for young people and the challenges they face today. Over the years Fred has taught Discipleship Groups for High School and college students.
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