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21st Century Temptation (It’s Nothing New)

November 2012
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I Corinthians 10:13-14 (MSG) states, “No test or temptation that comes your way is beyond the course of what others have had to face. All you need to remember is that God will never let you down; he’ll never let you be pushed past your limit; he’ll always be there to help you come through it. So, my very dear friends, when you see people reducing God to something they can use or control, get out of their company as fast as you can.”

To be tempted means “to entice or allure to do something often regarded as unwise, wrong, or immoral” (source: Dictionary.com). When we are tempted to give in to sin what’s the first thing we usually do? We rationalize. We redefine what we think is “unwise, wrong, or immoral” to fit what we want to do. And why do we do this? Because our conscience has been seared.

One of the gravest temptations facing Christians today is the accommodation of sin in our lives. The reason? Giving in to temptation is no big deal anymore. Procrastination, compromise, rationalizations, apathy, pride . . . you name it, we accommodate for it. And we don’t even think twice about it. Sin no longer sears our conscience. Need an example? Okay, here’s one (and it’s only the tip of the iceberg): Do you gossip about others behind their back?

So what is a seared conscience? “The seared conscience is referred to in 1 Timothy 4:2 where Paul talks about those whose consciences—their moral consciousness—have been literally ‘cauterized’ or rendered insensitive in the same way the hide of an animal scarred with a branding iron becomes numb to further pain. For human beings, having one’s conscience seared is a result of continual, unrepentant sinning. Eventually, sin dulls the sense of moral right or wrong, and the unrepentant sinner becomes numb to the warnings of the conscience that God has placed within each of us to guide us (Romans 2:15)” (quote source here).

“Sin dulls the sense of moral right and wrong . . . .” We rationalize, we compromise, we make excuses, and it’s all idolatry (e.g., putting anything or anyone ahead of God as having first place in our lives, and that includes ourselves and our pride). Dr. Charles Swindoll has written an excellent devotion on this very topic:

Accommodating

I Peter 1:13-2:3

I don’t know anyone who would build a summer home at the base of Mount Vesuvius, and it would be tough trying to get campers to pitch their tents where Big Foot had been spotted. No family I know is interested in vacationing in a houseboat up the Suez Canal.

And yet there are Christians running loose today who flirt with risks far greater than these. And they do so with such calm faces you’d swear they had ice water in their veins.

Who are they? They are the ones who rewrite the Bible to accommodate their lifestyle. Whenever they run across Scripture verses or principles that attack their position, they alter them to accommodate their practice. That way, two things occur: (1) All desires (no matter how wrong) are fulfilled. (2) All guilt (no matter how justified) is erased.

Here is a sampling of accommodating theology:

God wants me to be happy. I can’t be happy married to her. So I’m leaving . . . and I know He will understand.

There was a time when this might have been considered immoral. But not today. The Lord gave me this desire and wants me to enjoy it.

Look, nobody’s perfect. So I got in deeper than I planned. Sure, it’s a little shady, but what’s grace all about, anyway?

Hey, life’s too short to sweat the small stuff. We’re not under the law, you know.

If that’s true . . . if that’s right, then what in the world does it mean to be holy?

“Like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior” (I Peter 1:15).

Or pure?

“For this is the will of God,  . . . that you abstain from sexual immorality” (I Thess. 4:3).

Or under grace?

“Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? May it never be!” (Rom. 6:15).

The simple fact is this: If we sow a lifestyle that is in direct disobedience to God’s revealed Word, we ultimately reap disaster.

The consequences of sin may not come immediately . . . but they will come eventually. And when they do, there will be no excuses, no rationalization, no accommodation. God doesn’t compromise with consequences.

When the bill comes due, the wages of willful sin must be paid in full.

Source: Day by Day by Dr. Charles Swindoll, p. 87
Word Publishing, Thomas Nelson, 2000

The themes of “God wants me to be happy” and “we’re not under the law, you know” are thrown around a lot these days to give us license do just about anything we want to do; however, the Bible hasn’t changed to accommodate what we want. When it comes to sin, even 21st Century living with it’s instant access to anything we want hasn’t changed it’s definition and what it does to us. Galatians 6:7-8 is still in the Bible, “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.” The Message Bible states it like this, “Don’t be misled: No one makes a fool of God. What a person plants, he will harvest. The person who plants selfishness, ignoring the needs of others—ignoring God!—harvests a crop of weeds. All he’ll have to show for his life is weeds! But the one who plants in response to God, letting God’s Spirit do the growth work in him, harvests a crop of real life, eternal life.”

We want and crave the same things as everyone else in our society and yet I John 2:15-17 clearly states, “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world—the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does—comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.”

So what exactly is it that we don’t get? Oh, we get it all right, but we want it our way. We want life on our terms, and we forget that we have an adversary who watches our every move and is more than ready and willing to let us have everything our “lust of the flesh, lust of the eye, and the pride of life” (I John 2:16) desires. That is why we are warned to “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (I Peter 5:8).

Devour . . . think about that, folks.

So the next time you’re “tempted” by something or someone in thought, word, or deed (most likely within the next few minutes), remember what James had to say in James 1:13-15“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.”

I Corinthians 10:13 has the solution if we are willing to take it. “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.”

God has promised to provide a way out so that we can stand up under temptation (and yes, that includes ANY type of temptation), but are we willing to do it His way, or succumb to the temptation and do it our way?

Choose wisely . . . .

YouTube Video: “Gotta Serve Somebody” sung by Aaron Neville (composed by Bob Dylan):

Photo credit here

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