I've heard it said that if your sin doesn't feel good, you're doing it wrong. Sin feels good, it's attractive, gratifying and fun.
There, I said it.
I am not encouraging you to partake in sin, I am just stating the truth; sin is pleasurable. Whether you want to admit it or not, those are the reasons we turn to it. But where does temptation to sin come from?
"Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away." James 1:14
Here James reveals the answer: The call is coming from inside our own house! In other words, we are lured away from God in the midst of trials by our own desires. On one level, we simply want to sin. Christians have been freed from slavery to sin, but we haven't completely lost the taste for sin. The desire remains.
Temptation happens to all of us and if it happened to Jesus, you are not immune.
Jesus was tempted. Three times in three different ways and he knew that we would be too. Thus, he prayed for us as stated in yesterday's post.
"The tempter came to him and said, ‘If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.’ Jesus answered, ‘It is written: “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” (Lust of the flesh)
Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the highest point of the temple. ‘If you are the Son of God,’ he said, ‘throw yourself down. For it is written:
“He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.”
Jesus answered him, ‘It is also written: “Do not put the Lord your God to the test.” (Pride of life)
Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendour. ‘All this I will give you,’ he said, ‘if you will bow down and worship me.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Away from me, Satan! For it is written: “Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.” (Lust of the eyes) Matthew 4:3-10
The three devices Satan used to trap Jesus are still prevalent today. Not shocking, remember yesterday we also learned that the world is satan's system. These are also the same three that trapped Eve in the garden of Eden. Let's dig in to each of them.
Lust of the flesh- that temptation to feel physical pleasure from some sinful activity—to do something to make the flesh feel satisfied. Adultery, premarital sex, cursing, addiction, etc.
Lust of the eye- that temptation to look upon things we shouldn’t look upon, or to have things that we shouldn’t have. In other words, it is to cast our eyes upon something with desire or pleasure, even though God has told us not to look upon those things. Covetousness (fantasizing), pornography, desiring others’ material possessions, status, appearance. These would classify as sins of the spirit as well because they are concealed and hard to detect since the person doesn’t typically act on these. However, many sins start here and then transition into works of the flesh.
Pride of Life- that sinful temptation for selfish desires for wealth, fame, attention, power/control, and prestige. People who struggle with this area are preoccupied with the temporal things of this life. Materialism is their priority. Pride itself is one of the sins that God hates most. It is the sin that made Lucifer (the beautiful angel) turn into Satan (the adversary).
It’s important to note, that it is not a sin to enjoy physical pleasure in things in which God allows us to feel pleasure. For example, God created food to taste amazing. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying an incredible dinner (we have to eat to live), but gluttony is a sin. God also created sex. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying intimacy with our spouses, but adultery or fornication is sin.
There is nothing wrong with looking at beautiful things. There are many beautiful paintings, materials, and even creation itself is breathtaking. Is there anything more beautiful than a rainbow, a mountain landscape, the ocean, or the stars? But when we lustfully look upon things God has commanded us to avoid, such as pornography, other people’s spouses, or other people’s possessions, it becomes sin.
Finally, there is nothing wrong with having ambition or desiring to work hard. However, when we fail to give glory to God, when we desire to be praised for other’s efforts, or when we desire power or knowledge for the sake of puffing ourselves up, we become entangled in the pride of life.
So how do we avoid the three snares and live set apart?
Again, Jesus gives us the answer and example.
After he gave instruction to his disciples and before he was betrayed and arrested Jesus prays the longest prayer of his recorded in the gospels. He prayed for himself, for his disciples and then for all those who would come to believe in him on account of the disciples. He asks God to keep us from the evil one and that we may be sanctified by the truth of God's word.
"My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified." John 17:15-19
To sanctify someone or something is to set that person or thing apart for the use intended by its designer. A pen is "sanctified" when used to write. Eyeglasses are "sanctified" when used to improve sight. In the theological sense, things are sanctified when they are used for the purpose God intends. A human being is sanctified, therefore, when he or she lives according to God's design and purpose.
Sanctification is not the eradication of our sinful nature, but we can use sanctification to avoid the temptation of sin. Here are three ways:
The Word of God
When we spend time with God in prayer and in the Word, his nature permeates us, causing us to change without our even realizing it. As we read the instructions of the Bible, we are urged to obey them, and resolving to do so, with God’s help, makes us grow in holiness. Daily application of God‘s word works to sanctify us.
The Work of the Holy Spirit
The Holy Spirit uses the word to make us aware of sin, confess it and repent. He takes the Word and reveals God’s perfect will for our lives. We grow in His grace through the knowledge of His truth. As we yield in obedience to His truth we are sanctified by the truth.
The Fellowship of Other Believers
It is in community with other believers that some of the most marked changes take place In a christians life. Mentorship, accountability, small groups, church gatherings and friendships help create in us a holiness that we cannot attain alone.
So, I may have omitted a truth as I started this blog. I said sin feels good, and it does but there’s a caveat. Sin does not feel better than the experience of sanctification and Christ‘s intercession for us before God. It pales in comparison to knowing that God has his hand directly on your life and your life is exceedingly, abundantly more blessed and peaceful than you could have ever imagined or dreamed. I pray the allure of Jesus tempts you, in a good way.