Sympathy in Our Weaknesses: Surviving Temptation

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“For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.”

(Hebrews 4:15)

Dear Readers, Beloved of God,

Greetings and peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ! I pray all is going well with you and that you continue to experience the abundant blessings of God.

In this article, I will share on a subject that I believe is often overlooked in the basic teachings of Christianity. Because of this oversight, Christian’s are often left to “fend” for themselves, thus the flock scattered and seemingly left without hope or answers. This is tragic because the end result is often discouragement heaped with a healthy dose of condemnation.

The subject I refer to is “temptation” and believe it or not, it is not a dirty word. Every child of God faces, and will face, temptation numerous times while upon this earth. It is of utmost importance that believers understand that temptation in and of itself is not sin! What we do with the temptation we face determines it becoming sin or not. All temptation, regardless of form or how it is received, comes from the enemy! God never tempts anyone with evil!

Our enemy knows well the weaknesses of humankind! He is not referred to as the “most subtle” without good reason. Like any good shoulder going into battle, knowledge of the strategies of your enemy gives great advantage. Through the scriptures the Lord has prepared the Christian soldier for warfare.

First of all, the enemy always cheats, and will attack by appealing to the desires of human nature! These desires include appealing to our love of beautiful things, pride, and hunger. We can call these areas of attack, “the lust of the flesh”, “the lust of the eyes,” and “the pride of life”. (I John 2:16) Every temptation that comes at us will appeal to one or all three! In the Garden of Eden, Eve was tempted with all three and so was Jesus during His period of temptation in the wilderness! This brings me to the main point, the temptation of Jesus and how that relates to us.

Our enemy holds no punches and will attack from all directions. Sometimes multiple directions in one assault! He tempted Jesus from multiple directions! We find the account concerning the three ways Jesus was tempted in Matthew chapter four (4). The serpent of old hurled three vicious temptations at Jesus: “command these stones to turn to bread”, appealed to His hunger; “throw yourself down”, appealed to His pride, and “all these things I will give you if you will fall down and worship me”, appealed to His like of beautiful things, all three fall under the desires of human nature, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.

Now, we have learned the strategy employed by our enemy in assaulting us, but what about our counterattack and weapons of war? Let us go back to Matthew chapter four (4) and see how Jesus handled the situation. In corresponding order, let’s listen to Jesus’ reply to each assault: “man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God”; You shall not tempt the Lord your God,” and “You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only shall you serve”. Alas! Jesus used His Sword, the Word of God, to counterattack the enemy! What was the end result? “Then the devil left Him, and behold, angels came and ministered to Him”.

Temptation is a serious matter and can bring great distress to the believer. The attacks are often very intense and always strike at our most venerable weaknesses. That said; we are not left orphaned without the care of our Shepherd. It brings us great comfort to know that “we have a High Priest who can sympathize with our weaknesses, was in all points tempted as we are, yet remained without sin.” (Hebrews 4:15)

Of equal comfort are the words of the Lord in I Corinthians 10:12-13: “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall. No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.” This scripture does not indicate that God is the tempter, satan is, and God will not allow him to go beyond what we are able to withstand.

Beloved, God, in His mercies, has taught us the strategy of attack employed by our enemy, as well as, the weapon we use to overcome him. Remember, temptation of itself is not sin; it is how we respond that births sin. I pray that in our time of temptations, we use them as a means to strengthen our Lord’s overcoming power in us, and not allow them to merely be the exposure of our weaknesses. We are engaged in the battle, but the enemy has already lost the war! Beloved, “fight the good fight of faith”!

The Storms of Life!

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“In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”    John 16:33

If I were a betting person, one bet I would be sure to make is that all of God’s people have faced various storms in life! These storms have a tendency to overturn our boat and cause us to wonder if life will offer us anything else. We can even get to a point where we doubt that God is there or even cares about our troubles. The storms vary in intensity from high winds to full blown hurricanes and tsunamis.

Nevertheless, they are storms and affect each of us differently. As a former Law Enforcement supervisor, one thing I tried hard to instill in the officers I supervised was that people called upon us to handle and solve their crisis. We were, and they still are, in the crisis intervention business. I instructed them that these crisis’s ranged from “hangnails to homelessness.” The point was that it did not matter how small or large the crisis was, it was nonetheless a crisis to someone and our duty was to help them through it.

So, what is the point of all this chatter about the storms of life? Well for one, contrary to popular teaching in some religious circles, Jesus did inform us that we “WILL” experience some tribulation! (John 16:33). Also, consider another scripture that refutes this erroneous teaching; “[we] through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.” Please don’t think that I am just trying to be Pastor “Naysay”, I’m only pointing out that Jesus told us we would have tribulation this side of heaven and that life is comprised of “peaks and valleys”. Without question, we have to go through the valleys to reach the peaks. Jesus never promised us a carefree life and problem free existence. He did make promises to help and get us through the storms that come against us! Tribulation is not exactly exciting news and tends to silence our praises to the King. But, praising the King is what we should do! He is worthy of our praise regardless of our circumstances.

So, what are we to do? What hope do we have? And, how can we be assured that God is there and cares about us and the storms we must pass through?

First of all, we should find some comfort in the fact that Jesus, in His infinite Wisdom warned us and gave us a promise. He tells us that He will never leave nor forsake us! (Hebrews 13:5). Doesn’t it make sense that if we have knowledge that an enemy will come, we can be prepared and plan our counter assault against the blows of adversity?
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Secondly, we are never alone to face our storms! Isaiah 43:2 reminds us, “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you: when you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned; neither shall the flame scorch you.” The water, rivers, and fire are symbolic of our “storms”. The “water” can be calm, hot, or cold but nevertheless troublesome. The “rivers” are turbulent and have great potential to overtake us. The “fire” has the potential to bring about fatalities or serious disfigurement. I personally believe that this is God’s way of letting us know that He does care about us, the storms we go through, and understands they will vary in intensity! In either case He reminds us here that He is our rock and refuge no matter the storms size. The truth is they are all small to Him!

Thirdly, our God is a God of abundant love and “neither death nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39) When trouble comes His presence is His promise!
Let us also consider the investment God has in each of us. He gave His Son Jesus as a sacrifice for our sin. He placed upon Him the penalty we deserved! His life given to overcome our death! He died so that we may live! Shall we never forget the price He paid to secure our lives? His life and blood! There is no greater love than the love God has for us and abandoning us is never an option under any circumstances!

We may not always understand the storms that come at us or why at times we must suffer so much pain, but we can always be confident that He knows and cares. He has a plan and purpose for each and every one of us, and although painful, heartbreaking, and tragic, tribulation equally serves His plans and purposes. True faith believes God is present when all we hear is silence. There are times when we all need a little help or a shoulder to lean on in the faith walk of life. I would be honored to pray for you. Just leave a comment or send me an email. I will respond to your comment/request, and rest assured I will pray for you! May the blessings of God abundantly rest upon you!    ~TJH