Friday, April 15, 2011

Avoiding and Overcoming the Sting of Temptation

“Keep awake and pray that you may not come into the time of trial; the spirit is indeed willing, but the flesh is weak.”

~Mark 14:38 (NRSV).

Of all the positive auguries of faith — those drawn Spiritually — there is always the ever-present nemesis; the source of the flesh.

Every human being, including Jesus, has felt the deriding sting of temptation. Yet, those succumbing find themselves realms further stung.

Many Things – One Bite Only

There are so many temptations that we only need to experience once, or a few times, and we’re hooked, so powerful is the cognitive reinforcement.

We’re both duped and resistant to temptation at the level of the mind. It is both susceptible to the weak flesh — the lack of resolve — and resilient to the will of the Spirit. Strength or weakness really is up to how we think.

The sort of temptations that kidnap our souls, the God-bereft flesh corrupting same, is exemplified in two forms of powerful stimuli: sex and substances. Of course, there’s a myriad of others, but it’s best we found our discussion on just a couple of salient ones.

One instance of viewing pornographic images or films, or one experience of taking a substance, is enough for addiction to commence, for the predisposed.

For many, it’s one bite and they’re gone — off on a wild goose chase; the long path to hell.

A More Ever-Present Danger for Everyone

Everyone has this potential.

Like the person handling chemicals with their hands, who develops dermatitis, or another suddenly getting repetitive strain injury because their ergonomics are all wrong, dependency and addictiveness patterns slink their way, catching us out, unawares.

No one is totally safe from the clutches of temptation, as nobody is flesh-free.

The fear of the Lord is the happy reality interceding for us.

Applying Jesus’ Command

We easily assume Jesus’ command is not just contextually placed. We can apply the verse at top to all areas of our lives.

We must vouch to “keep awake” and pray that we won’t “come into the time of trial.” This is about having humility generated by the healthy fear of the Lord. It’s also about not compromising by rationalising the sin. We never know when one particular rationalisation might cause a spiritual trial — when burdensome pressure is brought to bear because we have weakened.

Attaining a fully obedient code of discipline is a spiritual essential.

We’re spiritually strong — giving the Holy Spirit a chance to defend us — when we don’t give in to the first temptation. Somehow, however, we will usually need to learn this the hard way.

© 2011 S. J. Wickham.

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