When Sin Brings You Low

 

With everything going on recently, (Charlottesville, North Korea, Barcelona, etc.) I was happy to preach this past weekend on when sin brings you low. This sermon looks at Micah 7 and explores two ways sin brings us low; from the sin around us to the sin within us. It then looks at the answer and the proper response. The MP3 of this sermon can be downloaded at the link below.

When Sin Brings You Low

The Deeps

Lord Jesus, give me a deeper repentance, a horror of sin, a dread of its approach. Help me chastely to flee it and jealously to resolve that my heart shall be Thine alone.

Give me a deeper trust, that I may lose myself to find myself in Thee, the ground of my rest, the spring of my being. Give me a deeper knowledge of Thyself as saviour, master, lord, and king. Give me deeper power in private prayer, more sweetness in Thy Word, more steadfast grip on its truth. Give me deeper holiness in speech, thought, action, and let me not seek moral virtue apart from Thee.

Plough deep in me, great Lord, heavenly husbandman, that my being may be a tilled field, the roots of grace spreading far and wide, until Thou alone art seen in me, Thy beauty golden like summer harvest, Thy fruitfulness as autumn plenty.

I have no master but Thee, no law but Thy will, no delight but Thyself, no wealth but that Thou givest, no good but that Thou blessest, no peace but that Thou bestowest. I am nothing but that Thou makest me. I have nothing but that I receive from Thee. I can be nothing but that grace adorns me. Quarry me deep, dear Lord, and then fill me to overflowing with living water.

The Valley of Vision

The Kisses of God

But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him. – Luke 15:20

What a beautiful picture we have here. The prodigal has returned home, but only after forsaking his father and laying waste to his inheritance. The prodigal, living comfortably in his father’s house wells up with pride and renounces his father’s government. He requests his estate and leaves. Filling his life with riotous living, he takes harlots as his companions, and fills his desires for vanity and squanders his father’s precious gifts. Oh’ but the child of God is never outside their Father’s providence, and famine hits the foreign land of the prodigal. The prodigal’s hopes are soon dashed upon the rocks of vanity and sin, as he finds himself in bondage. 

He is joined to a citizen of that country where he is required to feed pigs. In this state, the lords of this country do not offer him anything but to eat and sleep in the pig stalls. Sin brings temporary satisfaction but piles on long-lasting burdens, impossible to remove. He is in a state of perpetual dissatisfaction and insanity, but the grace of God is far reaching, and the prodigal comes to himself and says, “It would be better to be a slave in my father’s house than to live here.” What a shame it is, that many never come to themselves and never feel the burden of sin on their back, and what a shame many who do feel it, never venture to go home. They die in their despair, seeking some way to have the burden removed. They sink ever slowly into the “slough of despond”. What a shame, many have even taken their own lives in this despair.

In his unworthy state, covered in the stains and wounds of the foreign land that he had desired to live, the prodigal walks slowly home, crestfallen, seeking only servitude in the house of his father. But unworthy of even that, for not honoring your father and mother is a crime worthy of death under the law.

When he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion. Our Father’s eyes are ever on us, even when we can’t see Him. When our heads hang low, dejected from our sin, He looks and has compassion. How His heart aches when His children hurt, even from their self-inflicted wounds. He then ran and fell on his neck and kissed him. Before the son could say a word, the father had placed his lips upon his son. He did not wait until the filth was washed away. Nor was he concerned with any of the scoffing that the community might bring.

Oh, the kisses of the Father say so much. The kiss shows much love for the son. There has been no loss of love in the heart of the father. No uncertainty in the value of his child has occurred due to his son’s crimes. The kiss demonstrates full forgiveness, as it speaks of absolution. The debt the son incurred has been forgotten, and the burden of sin and guilt is gone. In the kisses of God, we see full restoration. The son is as much a son as he had ever been; the thoughts of servitude are to be rejected. No more food fit for swine nor clothes fit for prisoners. For there shall be a feast fit for royalty, a new robe is to be placed upon him, and a ring to signify to the world, that he is part of his father’s family. The son has full restoration, and all this before he can speak his confession, which he has undoubtedly been rehearsing.

There is a beauty in true humility for it does not flow from our natural self, but is the direct result of the working of the Spirit of God. Nevertheless, the son proceeds to aknowledge his sin before his father. True repentance is shown in this way, that even those accepted by the father long to confess. It is almost as if the son is making sure the father realizes what he has done. He wants to make sure his sin is fully understood, before accepting the welcome. Oh, but the father knows, and this kiss was no mistake.

Those who come to the Father by faith, in repentance will receive all the kisses of God. We are given the kiss of a new heart and new spirit as our hearts of stone are turned to hearts of flesh by the very grace of God. And we are kissed with strong assurance. Though the prodigal may have intense fears of walking away again, we see that the father is not apprehensive that son may disgrace his mercy and forgiveness. For the Father knows that of those who are His, He will not lose one of them.

There is also the kiss of intimate communion. The kisses that God gives are not like the kisses of Judas. Our Father looks at us and sees everything we are, all of our depravity, yet He places His lips upon us and kisses us with close communion. The kiss He gives is more intimate than any kiss a husband could give his wife, or a wife could give her husband.

Children of God and those who long to be, run to your father while there is still time. Satan tells you that you are unworthy of the kisses of God, and the truth is you have never been worthy nor will you ever be. But that is the very reason you must go. Only the kisses of your father can offer you anything. The world will offer you its kisses, but they are the kisses of Judas. Betraying kisses that will lead to your demise. Reject the kisses of this world and run to your Father.

There are kisses for every one of your despairs. Every wound and disease that eats at your soul can be addressed by the kisses of God. It would be worthwhile to quote Charles Spurgeon at length here, for much of this was drawn from his influence.

“Perhaps one whom I am addressing says, “even though I confess my sin, and seek God’s mercy, I shall still be in sore trouble for through my sin I have brought myself down to poverty.” “There is a kiss for you,” says the Lord: “Thy bread shall be given thee, and water shall be sure.” “But I have even brought disease upon myself by sin,” says another. “There is a kiss for you, for I am Jehovah-Rophi, the Lord that healeth thee, who forgiveth all thine iniquities, who healeth all thy diseases.” “But I am dreadfully down at the heel,” says another. The Lord gives you also a kiss, and says, “I will lift you up, and provide for all your needs. No good thing will I withhold from them that walk uprightly.” All the promises in this Book belong to every repentant sinner, who returns to God believing in Jesus Christ, his son.”

Child of God, let the world scoff and the consequences of your sin run their course. You have the kisses of God. For every trial, even the self-inflicted ones, can now do you no harm. All things work together for the good of those who love Him, even the effects of our sin with which we now live. Everything in this world will pass away, and we will one day enter the kingdom of our Lord where every tear will be dried and sadness will be no more. The world may continue to wound, and people may even look at you with disdainful eyes, remember it is not their approval you need, you have the kisses of God.

It would be beneficial to address those sit and ponder their sin, feeling proud that they are not like the great sinners being spoken of here. For they feel that they have not done such a great evil that they should drop their heads in shame. May God be merciful and show you your misery. For like the Pharisee, you fulfill your ritual of prayer in the public places, but remember the Pharisee walked away unforgiven. It was the tax collector who beat his own breast as if to say, “it is I who should be accursed.” The image of beating his chest symbolizes that he did not see his sin as mental mistakes, but something that flowed from his very soul. For that is what sin is, our very nature mocking the Holiness of God. He cried to God, “have mercy on me a sinner”, and how lovingly the Father kisses Him with forgiveness and acceptance.

There are still others who started out strong but have begun to be choked out by the cares of this world. Pleasures, promotions, and the search for prestige has taken you captive and begun to steal your time away from the things of God. May God grant you repentance, for many start strong down the narrow path only to taken away by such lusts never to return. They become like the man despairing in the cage in Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, who took the hand of his lusts and could not repent because he loved them so. They overtook him and blinded him of his need for salvation, and he proved never to be a child of God.

Come to His feet in repentance, for it is our only hope. The wrath of God will be poured out on sinners. Unless we accept the sacrifice of Christ Jesus, who did what we could not and lived a sinless life, yet was crucified in our place. For scripture states “He was wounded for our transgressions and bruised for our iniquities. The repenting sinner is the only one who can receive a crown of righteousness, and it is not our righteousness but Christ’s.

How can we neglect so great a salvation? Make your election sure. May all those who are children of God, and those who long to be, come to Him today and be embraced by his love and forgiveness.

-D. Eaton-

Gehazi’s Leprosy

Some sermons you preach never leave you. They are messages with which you identify for the rest of your life. For me, this is one of those sermons.

It covers three main topics. 1. The danger and lure of sin, 2. The consequences of sin. 3. The grace of God for the child of God even in the consequences of sin.

The MP3 can also be downloaded at the link below.

Gehazi’s Leprosy

D. Eaton

5 Truths About Your Battle With Sin You Hate to Admit

If you are a Christian, you battle with sin. It is not even necessary for me to list examples of the types of struggles with the flesh you may have. The minute you read the title of this post, you most likely had a specific struggle in mind. You have within you both flesh and Spirit, and the two are contrary to one another. Knowing this, however, does not mean the fight will easy or that you have it all under control. Here are five truths about your fight with sin you hate to admit.

1. Some battle scars are fresher than you are comfortable acknowledging.

As Christians, we are quick to acknowledge our struggles with sin, but we prefer to talk about the battles of the past. The ones where we have seen significant victory. The problem is, you have recent battle wounds as well. The fact that the battle is on-going is not something you like to broadcast to the world.

2. You sometimes try to get as close to the flame as possible without getting burned.

No matter how much you despise the sin that so easily besets you, you still find yourself wanting to get as close to it as possible. You think, “I will only allow myself this much room and will draw the line here.” The problem is that every time you get close to the line, it seems to move just a little further. This tendency to push boundaries has left you, on more than one occasion, beating yourself up over going too far.

3. You sometimes wonder why you are drawn to the very thing you despise.

Every time you are deceived by the deceitfulness of sin, you wonder how, at times, you desire the very thing you hate. Like Paul, you cry out, “who will save me from this body of death?” Even when you want to do right, evil is close at hand. You know that the problem with temptation is you because deep down you still have desires that war against your soul.

4. When it comes to your growth in godliness, you thought you would be further along than you are now.

You often think back to the many times you swore it was the last time, and you set out to grow in godliness. If you have been a Christian for a long time now, you remember looking forward to this time in your life with great anticipation. You imagined you would have experienced greater sanctification than you have.

5. You wonder if you are the only one; certainly there are other Christians out there who have risen above this.

You occasionally look at other Christians and think, surely they don’t have to war with sin the way I do. They seem to be the picture of piety. When you look at them from the outside, you think, “their heart does not struggle like mine.” You may even hear from someone who claims, contrary to scripture, to have stopped sinning, and you think, maybe it is true. Maybe it is just me.

What you need to know

1. You are not alone because being a Christian means battling sin.

This fight is something we all face, and warfare never happens without a few wounds. The fact that sanctification is a process that will not be completed this side of eternity means that every believer, no matter how sanctified they are, still has unsanctified areas in their life. In fact, the closer you walk with Jesus, the more aware of the battle you will be. The problem is not when you feel the conflict, the problem is during those times when you do not. In fact, John Newton once asked the Lord that he might grow and found that these inward trials were part of the growth process. Temptation will continue to come as long as you live, and it can be difficult to resist, but our standing in Christ is not shaken because we encounter temptation. As John Owen once said, “When we say a tree is firmly rooted, we do not say the wind never blows upon it.”

2. You are not alone because Jesus is with you.

Christ did not go to the cross to atone for your sin and bring you forgiveness to leave you to yourself to see if you could hack it. He called you, and He will keep you. Even when He sends His rod of correction, it is His love that is dealing with you, not His wrath. His wrath was satisfied on the cross. He is faithful and just to complete the work He has begun in you. You can look back and see victories over sin in your life, and you will continue to see more. Stay close to our Savior, hide His word in your heart, and pray without ceasing. He has promised to be with you, even to the end of the age.

3. The enemy will continue to accuse you, but there is no condemnation in Christ.

The enemy will frequently tell you that you are not worthy of being a Christian. Never go for the bait, because what he wants you to do at that moment is to begin to justify yourself. The minute you start listing off all your good qualities and victories over sin, he will have you right where he wants you. There are clearly victories you have experienced in Christ, and you are right to rejoice in them, but they do not make you worthy to be a Christian. When Satan tells you, you are not worthy to be a Christian; the correct response is to agree with him. Of course I am not worthy to be a Christian, no one is. I was not worthy in the past, I am not worthy now, and I will not be worthy in the future, but Jesus is worthy, and my worth is found in Him. I am counted righteous in Him. And if you ever start to believe the lie that you may have fallen beyond forgiveness, here is something you can do to snap you back into reality. Picture Jesus dying on the cross and imagine yourself walking up to Him, and try to tell Him He didn’t do enough to atone for your sins.

And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. – Philippians 1:6

D. Eaton

5 Ways Leprosy is a Picture of Sin

If you want a picture of your sin, all you need to do is to spend some time studying the passages of scripture that deal with leprosy. Doing so, you will see countless parallels. With that in mind, here are five ways leprosy is a picture of sin. Many people have expressed these before, so I do not claim them as original. They come from men such as Matthew Henry, Charles Spurgeon, and S. Lewis Johnson.

1. Leprosy was an inward disease

Even though you saw leprosy on the outside of the body, the real cause of the disease was lying beneath the surface. The sores and other problems were symptoms of the disease, but the cause ran deeper still. Sin is precisely the same. We are not sinners because we sin, we sin because we are sinners. The root of sin runs deep. Sin proceeds from a sinful heart. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. – Matthew 15:19

Just like the leper would have the disease long before it even began to show, sin does its work in us well before others may ever see it. It often starts with secret sins, where only we will feel the tenderness. Then it begins to show itself in public sin, then when we defend and justify our sin, it starts to fester and putrify, but it all starts from within.

2. Leprosy was a loathsome disease

It could be felt. It came with uncomfortable numbness, aches, and unhealing wounds. Many of the wounds that the leper would have were the result of the numbness the disease produced. Once the sense of pain was gone, the lepers could be cutting or burning their flesh without even knowing it. Likewise, sin stupefies us and then when our conscience is numb, it wounds.

It had a terrible odor. The aroma would drive others away, but the infected person could not escape it, and at other times didn’t even notice it. Lepers didn’t even like the smell of each other, much like when two sinners get together. The sins of the other often repulse them even though their own sin is just as rancid.

It could also be heard. It attacked the vocal cords causing a raspy voice. In the same way, sin finds its easiest escape through the tongue, which is why James warns us of its power. Even Jesus said, “Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.” Sin can be heard.

Leprosy could also find its way into clothing and the walls of the house. Likewise, sin can manifest itself in the way we dress and what we do with, and in, our homes.

In all of these ways leprosy was loathsome. It could not be kept hidden, and like leprosy, our sin will find a way out, and we will be exposed. There is no hiding the disease, especially from God.

3. Leprosy was a separating disease

Leprosy put you outside of the camp for quarantine, but not only did it separate loved ones, like sin can destroy relationships, but it also separated the infected person from the presence of God. They were considered ceremonially unclean, which meant they were unable to go to the temple to worship, and the temple was where God manifested His presence. Sin does the same. It puts us at enmity with God, severing our relationship with Him and leads to our destruction.

4. The leprous person could not cure themselves

During biblical times, there was no natural remedy, no exercise program or diets, and there were no topical ointments that could touch the depths of the disease.  This lack of a cure, however, did not mean that people were not cleansed of the disease. Miriam only had the disease for a short time on her hand, and God healed Naaman by having him wash seven times in the Jordan. What is impossible with men, is possible with God.

5. Jesus can heal the leper

In Matthew chapter eight we see Jesus touch the leper. The fact that Jesus touched the leper is astounding, because if anyone else had come in contact with a leper, they would have become unclean. Jesus, however, touches the leper, and the opposite happens; the leper becomes clean. We are sinners deserving judgment, and God being a just God must punish sin. If God were to let sin go unpunished, it would mean that He Himself would be unjust, so how could God justify sinners without himself being tainted? He did it by bearing the justice and wrath that sin deserved when the Father sent the Son and died upon the cross. For those who have faith in Jesus, their sins can be forgiven because their just punishment was placed upon Christ. God will judge every sin, and His wrath will either be poured out on the sinner or upon Christ in their place. This substitution is why God can be both just and the justifier of sinners.

How do we receive this cleansing? Are there works of righteousness we must fulfill to merit this forgiveness? The answer, of course, is no. In Leviticus 13 we see a picture of how we can be declared clean.

And if the leprous disease breaks out in the skin, so that the leprous disease covers all the skin of the diseased person from head to foot, so far as the priest can see, then the priest shall look, and if the leprous disease has covered all his body, he shall pronounce him clean of the disease; it has all turned white, and he is clean. But when raw flesh appears on him, he shall be unclean. – Leviticus 13:12-14

If the leprous person was only partially covered with the disease, they were unclean, but if the disease covered the entire body, they were pronounced clean. This is a perfect picture of recognizing our sinfulness and coming to the Lord in repentance. If we come to Him and say, “I know I am sinful, but I still have some soundness in me, see these good works I do? Please see them and accept me.” The Lord will say “unclean,” because self-righteousness is like the raw flesh; it is as filthy rags. However, if we come to Him in poverty of spirit, recognizing our real condition, we will say, “There is nothing good in me. I am completely sinful. Have mercy on me a sinner.” The Lord will say “You are clean.”

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. – 1 John 1:9

D. Eaton

Let Your Sins Be Strong

Attempting to minimize our sin is something we all have a tendency to do. We look at wrongs we have done and do everything we can to try and justify our actions, but this is not taking full ownership of our sins. Many times, as Christians, we admit that we need forgiveness, but we still don’t like to admit to the fact that our sins are utterly deplorable. We like to talk about our sin and forgiveness, but we do not like to concede that we are truly sinners. Deep down we think surely we are not like many other people who are real sinners. Thinking like this, however, makes us like the Pharisee, who scoffed at the tax collector–utterly in denial of the reality of our own sin.

Martin Luther once wrote a letter to Melanchthon entitled, “Let Your Sins Be Strong,” addressing several different topics, including the tendency to downplay our sins. Luther says, “God does not save those who are only imaginary sinners. Be a sinner, and let your sins be strong, but let your trust in Christ be stronger, and rejoice in Christ who is the victor over sin, death, and the world.”

We must stop trying to weaken the sin we have committed in order to maintain dignity. We must let them be strong, and look at them in all their wretchedness. We must see our sins as they mock God and refuse to obey Him in all His Holiness. Taking ownership of our sins is the only way we can bring what is ours to Him and say, I need you to bear my punishment for these. There is nothing anyone can do to atone for these sins. Jesus, you are the only one. His response to this request is, “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be white as snow.” Because of the cross, there is no sin able to separate us from His love, for His sacrifice is sufficient.

Today let us consider the words of Martin Luther: “Do you think such an exalted Lamb paid merely a small price with a meager sacrifice for our sins? Pray hard for you are quite a sinner.” Let us not try to justify our sins, for self-justification warrants nothing but death, but against Christ’s justifying blood, no sin can prevail.

My sins are mine I know them well
They mock at God and damn to hell
But through His blood, I am set free,
He paid my debt at Calvary.

God, be merciful to me, the sinner! Luke 18:13

D. Eaton

3 Reflections on Sickness and the Christian Life

Being laid up for three days gives you some time to think about your frailty. Day one was enough in itself, but when you expect to get better on day two, and it gets worse, it starts to lower your spirits.  Today, the third day, is the first day I have had enough strength to sit up and write, and I am even finding this exhausting. I only have a flu virus. I’m sure if anyone reading this has battled, or is battling, cancer or some other serious disease, they are shaking their head saying, “you have no idea.” I’m sure you could teach me more than I could you, but I will put my thoughts here regardless, in case someone finds them edifying. Here are three thoughts that have been going through my mind as I have been laid up.

1. Sin is Serious  

There would be no sickness if it were not for sin. The reason we have to deal with any of it is because we live in a fallen world. Let me be clear, I am not saying that anytime someone gets sick it is a result of some sin they have committed. What I am saying is that because sin has entered our world, there is sickness in general. I’ve seen sickness ravage the lives of some of my friends. I saw it once in a friend whose life was taken by a virus, that, for the last several weeks of his life, he lost all control of his body. Up until a couple of months earlier, he was physically fit and running every day.  I saw it in another friend who lost his life to cancer. These two examples are enough to show us that sickness is serious, and though I do not believe these two friends were suffering because of any particular sin in their lives, they were suffering because sin has ravaged our world.

What does this say to me? It says sin is dangerous in any form. We often play around with it like it is a tame pet, but in reality, it is a deceptive brutal killer. Every time I play around with sin, I am playing with the very thing that brought not only sickness but death into the world. We must stop taking it lightly.

2. We Are Not Our Own

This life is not our own. This is true for everyone, but for the Christian, it is true in two senses. First, it is true for everyone in the sense that life is a gift, and tomorrow is promised to no one. We should never take our health for granted. None of us know when our last day of feeling good may be. It can happen overnight, all of the things we take for granted can be taken away. We live in a culture that hates to be reminded of this. We often try to hide sickness and death-keeping it as far away from us as possible. Being mindful of our frailty, however, is a valuable thing. Even David cried out, “O LORD, make me know my end and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting I am! ( Psalm 39:4)” He wanted to be reminded that his life is a vapor: here today and gone tomorrow. There is a grace in knowing this, as it keeps our vision clear.  We must redeem the time. Our sinful hearts are pulling us in so many directions it is easy to get lost: to lose our center. So many things are vying for our attention, and much of it is vanity.

Once you are laid out on your back, you quickly realize just how unimportant many of the things you are pursuing are. Even if you know that your life is in no real danger, the questions still come. “What if this were it? What if my days of health were behind me? Was I spending it on what mattered?” The interesting thing about these questions is you would think the answers would make you speed up. Instead, they challenge you to slow down. So much of what we are chasing is vanity, and we don’t need to work so hard to have other people be impressed with us. We do not need to put on so many masks to make people believe we are something that we are not. In the end, none of that will matter. Our lives are not our own, and as much as we think we are, we are not in control of when or how it will end.

For the believer, there is a second sense in which our lives are not our own. We have been bought with at price: the cross of Jesus. Let that cost sink in for a moment. Remember what your Savior suffered to save you. Even knowing this, we rarely sacrifice our time for Him. As Thomas Watson put it, “Christ went more willingly to the cross than we do to the throne of grace.” We are so busy chasing the things that we think will bring us glory and pleasure that we have little time for the One who really can. We have hardly any time for the Word of God and even less time for prayer. The pursuit of holiness is rarely as enticing as chasing status in this world, and they are often opposed to one another, so it is impossible to go after both. The fact that we have little time for God tends to show us where our treasure is.

3. Suffering is Crucial to our Spiritual Health

The first two reflections leave me with one final thought on the role of Suffering in the Christian life. Suffering is essential to our spiritual health. If our Savior, who had no sin, had to suffer in this fallen world, how do we, who have sinful hearts think we will escape it. We should neither seek affliction nor run from it. As one theologian once said, “It will find us,” but when it does, it wakes us from our slumber. We are naturally drowsy and need to be frequently awakened. Not only do we begin to see the power of sin in these times, but we are also awakened to the suffering of others. It is not until we are comforted by the Lord in our times of suffering that we will be truly able to comfort others.

It is all coming to an end one day, and our health has not been promised to us. What are we doing with the time we have? I for one do not want to find myself on my deathbed saying, “I wish I would have spent more time living for my Savior, in His word, in prayer, and showing a suffering world that Jesus is the answer.” Sin, in general, and, in particular, is our greatest problem, and He bore it on the cross. He has even defeated death by rising again, and though we are sown perishable, we will be raised imperishable. I will live for Him. Everything else will be vanity on the last day, for the things of this world are passing away.

I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. – Philippians 3:8

D. Eaton

How To Win The Day After A Fall

“When you fall into the mire, be ashamed and be humbled, but return and wash in the open fountain, and return and beg for new strength to walk more surely. Learn to trust yourself less and God more, and take action against your enemies.. . ..Do not imagine that your little is enough, or despair because you cannot do more, but ‘press on toward the goal to win the prize.’ Do not think everything is lost because you are presently foiled. The experienced soldier knows that he will often win the day after a fall or the day after he has been wounded. Be assured of this, after a short battle follows an eternity of triumph.”

–Robert Leighton, Commentary on 1 Peter

The Problem with Temptation is Us

She stopped by again today and gave me one of those looks. The beauty of her face set against the backdrop of the tumultuous sky promised me peace. It was soft and gentle. It was like she was telling me, “I know you are hurting, and I can help.” There was a grace in the whole thing that spun my world with confusion.

The power she wielded over me was devastating. She continued to promise relief, but I have spent time with her on more than one occasion. She keeps telling me to trust her, that she can sooth the pain I am feeling. I reminded her that every time previously, her relief has only been temporary and that she always leaves me more troubled than before. Her response to this has always been the same, “Just one more time and you will be satisfied.”

Either I go with her and enter the vicious cycle once again, or I resist and find myself with an unquenched thirst that still leaves me feeling worse than before she showed up.  When I resist her, she plays upon my fears: as if somehow I am missing out, or failing to take care of myself. Many times she has told me “this is what life is about about, and you are not living it to the fullest.”

She appears in different forms to everyone. Usually, when I hear them talk about her, most people put all the blame on her. In exasperation, they conclude, “If she were not always around, I wouldn’t have this problem,” or “If society didn’t endorse her so much, I would be safe.” The reality is the problem with temptation is us, and even without her our hearts naturally try to find fulfillment apart from our Creator. This, of course, is why we often go out to look for her.

The only reason she has so much power over me is because deep down I desire what she offers whether she is present or not, and these are the desires that war against my soul. If this were not the case, I could easily send her on her way without a problem. John Owen once wrote, “Temptations and occasions put nothing into a man, but only draw out what was in him before,” and he was working from a truth he had read in Scripture which says, “each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire” (James 1:14).

I am always amazed at how much influence she has over me, or should I say how much power I have given her. There is only one remedy, and that is to abide in Christ who offers the real fulfillment I am seeking. There must be a change in me for her to lose her power, and that change has already begun. I know this because never before have I been so aware of the deceit that lies behind her smile, but being aware and resisting are two different things. There is so much more to say about her, and even more to say about our great deliverer, but she is here now giving me that look.

D. Eaton