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Running Like the Devil is Chasing You

Depending upon the time of day, I like to listen to the radio while I write.  During today’s news update, there were two murder suicide’s featured in the area.  After watching an episode of Lost Season 1 last night, one scene came to my mind, a conversation between Locke (Terry O’Quinn) and Jack (Matthew Fox).  Locke suggested that some people look like the Devil is chasing them.  In the case of these four victims, they didn’t run fast enough to avoid death.

After [Judas had taken] the piece of bread, Satan entered him. Then Jesus said to him, “What you are going to do, do quickly [without delay],” John 13:27.

In the passage above, Jesus makes the statement Satan entered Judas Iscariot during the last supper.  Bible commentaries suggest this possession accelerated Judas’ desire to betray Jesus.  Knowing what was about to come, Jesus exhorts Judas to finish his plan without delay.  Unfortunately, the moment individuals think things through in their mind, the act of sin quickly follows.  By this time, it’s often too late to turn back.  Using the analogy above, the Devil has caught you from behind and won’t let go.

Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God” [for temptation does not originate from God, but from our own flaws]; for God cannot be tempted by [what is] evil, and He Himself tempts no one. 14 But each one is tempted when he is dragged away, enticed and baited [to commit sin] by his own [worldly] desire (lust, passion). 15 Then when the illicit desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin has run its course, it gives birth to death, James 1:13-15.

Temptation is like a classic car chase scene from a movie.  Initially, the good character is in the clear, far from harm.  However, as this pursuit continues chaos, distractions and traffic place the bad guy within striking distance.  Unless you flee from evil, minds will eventually embrace earthly desires.  Thus, the more you stare at temptation, it’s only a matter of time before the Devil grabs ahold of your life.  Therefore, be alert, on guard and keep watch so you stay well out of the Devil’s reach.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

When X-Rated Thoughts Become a Lifestyle

A recent study discovered that the porn industry made over 13 billion dollars worldwide last year.  This is more profit than the National Football League, the premiere professional sports industry in the United States.  Then again, this might explain why advertisers create promiscuous commercials year after year to target a younger audience.  Based upon the statistics of pornographic viewership, at some point in the process of temptation X-rated thoughts are becoming a lifestyle.

Then it happened in the spring, at the time when the kings go out to battle, that David sent Joab and his servants with him, and all [the fighting men of] Israel, and they destroyed the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah. But David remained in Jerusalem, 2 Samuel 11:1.

Like any bad habit or an addictive behavior, there is usually a pattern that leads up to engaging in the actual act of sin.  Step one begins when individuals have idle time.  In the passage above, David didn’t go to work.  Each spring when the snow melted and roads were passable, kings went out to work to defend their borders or expand their territory using force.  For some reason, David lost interest, searching for something else to do in life.

One evening David got up from his couch and was walking on the [flat] roof of the king’s palace, and from there he saw a woman bathing; and she was very beautiful in appearance, 2 Samuel 11:2.

Step 2 often goes hand in hand as boredom is a byproduct of idleness.  Free time can cause human minds to wander.  In the passage above, David was star gazing when an open window revealed a beautiful naked woman.  Instead of going back to the stars, David was fixated on each physical feature of her body.  After an initial subtle glance, lust conceived within David’s heart, opening the door for step 3, enticement.

David sent word and inquired about the woman. Someone said, “Is this not Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?” – 2 Samuel 11:3.

Enticement feeds on human nature using appeal, bewitchment and charm.  As if minds are trying to use logic to justify the thought of any wrong doing, enticement weakens souls.  While some may turn back after being enticed, day dreaming, fantasizing and ungodly passions take most people beyond the point of no return.  The only thing left is engaging in the actual act of sin.  Unfortunately, this is where common sense is abandoned as David disregarded the fact that this naked woman was married.  Enticement drags curious souls into a web of darkness that few escape or recover from.

 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God” [for temptation does not originate from God, but from our own flaws]; for God cannot be tempted by [what is] evil, and He Himself tempts no one. 14 But each one is tempted when he is dragged away, enticed and baited [to commit sin] by his own [worldly] desire (lust, passion). 15 Then when the illicit desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin has run its course, it gives birth to death, James 1:13-15.

The passage above details how and why an X-rated mind can become a lifestyle.  The author of this book is credible, the earthly brother of Jesus who likely had a few minutes with him before his ascension into heaven.  James warns believers against blaming God for the choices they have made in life.  Those who give into temptation have placed themselves into environments that usually result in sin.  Therefore. if your minds is leading you where you don’t want to go, take the advice of the apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 so that X-rated minds can be cleansed and made whole.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

How Should a Christian Respond to Smut?

A generation ago, the content of movies, songs and television shows were heavily scrutinized.  If there was any traces of questionable material, conservative critics might label this as smut.  This term refers to anything that might be seen as obscene, pornographic or too revealing.  As Hollywood continues to push the envelope beyond decency over the past half century, smut has become mainstream, available at most check out counters in America.  This reality has caused me to ponder, “how should a Christian respond to smut?”

While He was in Bethany [as a guest] at the home of Simon the leper, and reclining at the table, a woman came with an alabaster vial of very costly and precious perfume of pure nard; and she broke the vial and poured the perfume over His head, Mark 14:3.

In the passage above, Jesus is anointed by a woman with a questionable reputation.  According to other accounts of this event in the gospels, this woman’s name is Mary.  Based upon comments made by local guests, Mary was a first century prostitute.  Having a lady of the night approach you at a party might be tempting to the average guy.  Yet, this encounter didn’t phase Jesus, even if Mary’s breasts were hanging out of a low cut blouse.  Jesus was tempted in every way just as men are tempted today by smut, but did not sin.  This makes Jesus the supreme authority on how to respond to and overcome smut.

For we do not have a High Priest who is unable to sympathize and understand our weaknesses and temptations, but One who has been tempted [knowing exactly how it feels to be human] in every respect as we are, yet without [committing any] sin, Hebrews 4:15.

In his famous Sermon on the Mount, Jesus refers to eyes as the lamp of the body.  Keeping them pure is crucial to responding to immodest attire as the summer approaches.  One of Jesus’ disciples refers to three aspects that must be held in check.  According to 1 John 2:15-17, lust, sensual cravings and the longing of eyes stand in the way of responding to smut in a godly manner.  The apostle Paul urges one of his pupils to run away and flee from youthful desires in 2 Timothy 2:22.  According to Paul, the best way to respond to smut is by pursuing righteousness, faith, love and peace.  May this advice equip you to overcome future encounters with smut.

by Jay Mankus

The Taming of the Cravings

One of William Shakespeare’s well known comedies is the Taming of the Shrew.  Written in the early 1590’s, this play has been adapted numerous times for stage, screen, opera, ballet, and musical theatre.  While this production highlights a bad-tempered and aggressively assertive woman, the Bible speaks of an another beast with a similar reputation.  According to John, this inner demon feeds off of worldly desires.  Fueled by longings, lust and sensual desires, few people have had success in taming these cravings.

Do not love the world [of sin that opposes God and His precepts], nor the things that are in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.  For all that is in the world—the lust and sensual craving of the flesh and the lust and longing of the eyes and the boastful pride of life [pretentious confidence in one’s resources or in the stability of earthly things]—these do not come from the Father, but are from the world, 1 John 2:15-16.

According to Jesus, the eyes serve as the lamp of the human body, Matthew 6:22-24.  If your eyes are good, fixated on Jesus, Hebrews 12:2, spiritual light will guide your steps.  However, if you allow your eyes to wander, take a second glance and begin to stare at unwholesome sights, darkness will enter your body.  This seemingly innocent act starts a chain reaction that awakens fleshly desires.  Those who indulge in masturbation, pornography and or sex outside of marriage corrupts hearts, souls and minds.

The world is passing away, and with it its lusts [the shameful pursuits and ungodly longings]; but the one who does the will of God and carries out His purposes lives forever, 1 John 2:17.

The only cure known to the cravings of the sinful nature is pursuing God’s will.  In his Sermon of the Mount, Jesus tells his audience where your heart is, your treasure will be also.  Thus, those who appease earthly cravings will be distracted, focused on satisfying temporary pleasures in life.  The only way to tame this spiritual shrew is by setting your heart and mind on things above, Colossians 3:1-4.  Those who learn to clothe themselves with Christ can overcome the demons of your past.  While this is not an easy process, may the Holy Spirit fill you with discipline, insight and wisdom to tame any unholy craving within you.

by Jay Mankus

Visual Sewage

The human mind often acts as a sponge, absorbing information that you hear, learn and understand.  Meanwhile, Jesus refers to eyes as the lamp of your body.  These head lights serve as a guide through life; a vehicle that when functioning properly enables individuals to dodge the visual sewage that exists in this world.  One of the greatest dangers to your soul is pornography, tempting your eyes to embrace the human flesh by gratifying your sinful nature.

“The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light,” Matthew 6:22.

There is a ministry that exists to combat the urge to lust.  Covenant Eyes provides resources for internet accountability and filtering to protect the innocent, pure and young.  Yet, the internet isn’t the only place where visual sewage resides.  Pornography lurks in your mailbox with questionable catalog images.  On Halloween night modesty will be pushed aside for more sexy costumes.  Demonic forces, oppression and powers of darkness seek to destroy souls through visual sewage present on any cell phone.

While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he was greatly distressed to see that the city was full of idols, Acts 17:16.

The Greek word κατέιδωλον appears only once in the Bible within the passage above.  This term is translated into English meaning full of idols.  The residents of Athens embraced gods and goddesses, erecting altars throughout this ancient city.  Some of these places of worship were dedicated the goddesses of love, encouraging the practice of prostitution and sexual orgies in the name of love.  Essentially, Paul was greatly distressed by this visual sewage.

The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.  We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ, 2 Corinthians 10:4-5.

In his second letter to the church at Corinth, Paul provides advice to combat this dangerous addiction.  Corinth is located in Greece, likely placing members of this congregation into this cesspool of sin.  Ignoring this negative environment wasn’t an option.  Thus, Paul steers believers toward using spiritual weapons, relying on God’s power to demolish demonic strongholds.  Victory is achieved through taking your thoughts captive.  This process begins by meditating on God’s Word so that when evil arises, you are able to take captive every thought.  If a current environment of visual sewage is overwhelming you, flee by purging yourself from any reminder of pornography so that your thought life will become obedient to Christ.

by Jay Mankus

Going Through the Door

When I was younger, I weekly told a coach, parent and teacher, I can’t do it.  Trying to take the easy way out, sometimes I was given a pass.  Yet, this mindset leads to co-dependence.  If you want to grow up and mature, at some point you have to go through the door the Lord provides alone.

Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any one hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me, Revelation 3:20.

In the game show Let’s Make a Deal, current host Wayne Brady often gives contestants three doors to choose from.  One has a grand prize, the other a small prize and the final one a prank for a laugh.  The game of life is similar but decisions replace doors.  Choices are made daily which will shape the outcome of your life for the good or bad.  God doesn’t force individuals to do this or that.  Rather, freewill is offered to walk through the door of your choice.

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your strength, but with the temptation will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it, 1 Corinthians 10:13.

The apostle Paul wrote a letter to members of a church struggling to overcome specific sins.  Whether he is addressing addicts, bad habits or poor decisions, Paul provide a blue print for conquering addiction.  When tempted God always provides a way out.  Therefore, when evil desires, lust or sinful urges come knocking, walk through the door that the Lord provides.

by Jay Mankus

A Cure to the Second Glance

Every month I receive a hundred or so comments on posted blogs.  The one which has received the most feed back is the Second Glance.  Inspired by the Casting Crowns’ song Slow Fade, this devotion eludes to the temptation to go beyond appreciating beauty toward lust.  While reading the book of Job today, I believe I have stumbled upon a cure to the Second Glance.

“I made a covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully at a young woman,” Job 31:1.

In the midst of struggling to comprehend God’s hand in the death of his children and a deteriorating body, Job changes his attention toward devotion to his wife.  As part of a wedding vow or personal commitment to his spouse, Job promises to avoid taking a second glance at other women.  Although this may seem old fashion, I’m sure this decision prevented another woman from interfering with his marriage.

If my steps have turned from the path, if my heart has been led by my eyes, or if my hands have been defiled, then may others eat what I have sown, and may my crops be uprooted, Job 31:7-8.

Depending upon your personality, spheres of influence and upbringing, everyone has a different way of dealing with situations.  Free spirits are vulnerable to becoming loose canons, expressing whatever comes to their minds.  Meanwhile the disciplined are often rigid, strict and practice teetotalism, zealous in the enforcement of rules.  Most people fall somewhere in between, a hybrid of sorts.  Yet, in the end, it comes down to a will to love.  The passage above details the passion necessary to fight the urge to take another peek.  If you are truly set on overcoming lust, add accountability, Bible Study and a will to love to your daily prayers and routine.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

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