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Tag Archives: overcoming temptation

The Degrading Power of Sin

The Bible is littered with depressing, shocking and troubling accounts of people who have fallen from grace.  Jealousy led Cain to kill his brother Abel after God was not pleased with his offering.  Abraham lied to a king, claiming that his wife was his sister, afraid that he might get killed.  Love caused Samson to marry and sleep with an enemy of Israel.  Lust drove David to commit adultery and murder to be with the woman of his dreams.  These are just a few examples of the degrading power of sin.

Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their own hearts to [sexual] impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them [abandoning them to the degrading power of sin], Romans 1:24.

Those who fall prey and become ensnared by sin do so due to a spiritual problem.  The apostle Paul wrote a letter to the church of Corinth encouraging members to take their thoughts captive.  When minds begin to wonder, temporary pleasures supersede desires to retain the knowledge of God.  While not everyone gives into temptation, sin has a seductive power like an addiction that won’t leave you alone.

For I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my flesh [my human nature, my worldliness—my sinful capacity]. For the willingness [to do good] is present in me, but the doing of good is not. 19 For the good that I want to do, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want. 20 But if I am doing the very thing I do not want to do, I am no longer the one doing it [that is, it is not me that acts], but the sin [nature] which lives in me, Romans 7:18-20.

Within a chapter to Christians in Rome, the apostle Paul confesses sins power over his own life.  Paul details failures, struggles and the crippling power of sin reigning within his life.  Like a caged wild animal, the sinful nature within human beings is too strong to control on your own.  When sin leads souls on the door steps of temptation, only one name can help you escape from behind the devil’s door.  Call out to Jesus and you will be saved, Romans 10:9-11, on the path toward restoration.

by Jay Mankus

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The Hunger

Appetites and thirst are an internal signal that our bodies want food and drink.  When it’s hot thirst drives individuals to stay hydrated.  Meanwhile, when you miss a meal, hunger pains may persuade you to binge, raid the refrigerator or order take out to satisfy this desire.  However, God designed human beings with a soul, craving a different kind of hunger.

After He had gone without food for forty days and forty nights, He became hungry. And the tempter came and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.” But Jesus replied, “It is written and forever remains written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes out of the mouth of God,’” Matthew 4:2-4.

As Jesus prepared for his three year ministry on earth, a fast was performed to focus solely on God.  In this vulnerable state, the Devil tempted Jesus with food, hoping Jesus’ physical need for food would override his spiritual preparations.  Instead, Jesus reminds the Devil that God desires human beings to meditate on God’s Word day and night, Joshua 1:7-8.  While food satisfies the stomach, spiritual nuggets fuel the soul.

For the [pagan] Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; [but do not worry,] for your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But first and most importantly seek (aim at, strive after) His kingdom and His righteousness [His way of doing and being right—the attitude and character of God], and all these things will be given to you also, Matthew 6:32-33.

During a segment on worry, Jesus uses common sense to illustrate how God provides.  This portion of the Sermon on the Mount focuses on the proper attitude individuals should possess.  Instead of being consumed by worry, believers should develop a spiritual hunger for righteousness.  When God and the Bible become your main priority on earth, everything else falls naturally into place.  While hunger pains may come and go, may the hunger for God keep your soul satisfied daily.

by Jay Mankus

Full Blown

In the context of a medical scare, an outbreak has the potential to become a full-blown pandemic.  Instead of subtle signs that suggest a minor situation, full blown refers to conditions that are extreme.  Bacteria, disease and illness become contagious, spreading like a wild fire out of control.  Under extreme scenarios, fire fighters are helpless, waiting until fires to burn themselves out.

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). 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.

According to the earthly brother of Jesus, full blown is the by product of sin that has run it’s course, contaminating an entire soul that results in spiritual death.  This condition is brought on by temptation, made worse by desire, lust and passion.  The moment you allow sin to reign, addiction takes over, dragged away from common sense via enticement.  This vicious cycle does not stop until acts of the sinful nature take lives captive.

Now the practices of the sinful nature are clearly evident: they are sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality (total irresponsibility, lack of self-control), 20idolatry, sorcery, hostility, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions [that promote heresies], 21 envy, drunkenness, riotous behavior, and other things like these. I warn you beforehand, just as I did previously, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God, Galatians 5:19-21.

Last week at work, I opened my mouth which was persuaded by loose lips.  What I blurted out sounded funny initially. While laughing, my conscience sent an impulse of conviction to my body, “I can’t believe I just said that.”  A few comments later that night shed light on my condition: total irresponsibility and a lack of self-control.  To my surprise, full blown sin had arrived, shaking my soul with this painful reality.  May the apostle Paul’s warning in the passage above about spiritual inheritance motivate you to flee from traces of sin ready to blossom.

by Jay Mankus

Removing Any Unwanted Visitors

Now that Easter Sunday is over, some people may be wondering, what do I do now?  Well, one thing is for certain, the closer you get to God, the more of a threat you become to Satan, aka the Devil.  Thus, don’t be surprised by a series of unwanted visitors in the form of demonic attacks, ungodly influences and a wave of temptations to through you off track.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses [who by faith have testified to the truth of God’s absolute faithfulness], stripping off every unnecessary weight and the sin which so easily and cleverly entangles us, let us run with endurance and active persistence the race that is set before us, Hebrews 12:1.

The author of Hebrews compares life on earth to a marathon.  Along the way, there will be obstacles, pot holes and unplanned delays meant to trip you up.  As a former angel, Lucifer has the ability to disguise evil in an attractive manner.  These clever attacks delay, entangle and slow down runners.  Therefore, if you want to remove any unwelcomed visitors endurance and perseverance must exist.

And we are witnesses of these things; and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has bestowed on those who obey Him,” Acts 5:32.

A first century doctor makes an interesting observation between the Holy Spirit and obedience.  According to Luke, the Holy Spirit is bestowed and poured out upon those who obey God.  Thus, the best way to remove any unwanted visitors is by obeying biblical practices.  As you read the four gospels and continue throughout the New Testament, the anointing of the Holy Spirit is waiting for faithful followers.  As individuals keep in step with the Holy Spirit, this supernatural counselor will enable you to take the necessary steps to remove all unwanted and unwelcomed visitors.  May this bestowing awaken you as you draw closer to Jesus.

by Jay Mankus

Haven’t You Heard…It is Written

A debate is a formal discussion on a particular topic in which opposing arguments are put forward.  In ancient Greece, philosophers went to the market place to exchange new ideas.  According to Acts 17:18, Epicurean and Stoic philosophers began to engage the apostle Paul.  Trying to be relevant, Paul references an idol in Athens, quotes a famous poet and makes a reference to being an offspring of God.  When you don’t have much in common, its essential to find a starting place that will open the hearts and minds of a foreign audience to your point of view.

And the tempter came and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.” But Jesus replied, “It is written and forever remains written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes out of the mouth of God,’” Matthew 4:3-4.

Meanwhile, Jesus used a different strategy, especially when confronted by first century religious leaders.  In the passage above, a fallen angel, Lucifer, aka Satan tempts Jesus during his forty day fast in preparation of his earthly ministry.  Instead of using a rhetorical question on this occasion, Jesus simply says, “it is written.”  As a former archangel who knew God’s Word, Jesus corrects the deceivers request by referencing the Old Testament.  This didn’t discourage Satan, as he quotes the Bible, daring Jesus to use God’s supernatural powers for selfish reasons.  To finish this spiritual debate, Jesus uses the Bible to correct what Satan took out of context.

So then, if David calls Him (the Son, the Messiah) ‘Lord,’ how is He David’s son?” 46 No one was able to say a word to Him in answer, nor from that day on did anyone dare to question Him again, Matthew 22:45-46.

At the beginning of Matthew 22, Jesus endures an onslaught from Pharisees, Sadducees and religious leaders.  Like a fierce game of pin the tail on the donkey, each expert of the law tried to trick Jesus into making a mistake by de-emphasizing one of the ten commandments.  Beside using expressions like haven’t you read, Jesus answers each question with another question.  One by one, each religious leader left defeated, no match for the Son of God.  While no one possesses the wisdom of Jesus, if you find yourself losing a debate, reference the Bible by saying, “Haven’t you heard?” Then quote a passage of the Bible that relates to your discussion, “it is written.”

by Jay Mankus

 

Looking Through a Key Hole

My dad’s mother, an immigrant to this country, spent most of her time in the United States living in Binghamton, New York.  Beside working as a nurse at a local hospital, my grandmother rented out the second floor of their house which consisted of three separate apartments.  After her three sons graduated from college, Joanna continued to work at this hospital but left these spare rooms vacant.  During my childhood, these upper rooms provided an excellent place for hide and go seek.  Due to squeaky wooden floors, you were forced to tip toe, spying through open keyholes in antique doors.  From this vantage point, you could check to see who was coming or wait until someone revealed their hiding place.

Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak,” Matthew 26:41.

Prior to high tech security systems with hidden cameras, most modern front doors contained a peek hole to look through before opening the door.  This safety feature protected children from unwanted strangers like the classic scenes from Home Alone and Uncle Buck.  However, these peek holes were not always used for wholesome reasons.  Over the years, some have fallen prey to voyeurism, using binoculars, open key holes and peek holes to feed fleshly desires.  Those who give into these ungodly desires open the door for pornography that leads to reprobate minds.  While each individual is vulnerable to different types of temptation, Jesus urged his own disciples to watch and pray so that the Holy Spirit will override earthly desires.

Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you, James 4:7.

Jesus’ earthly brother chimes in with his own advice.  In the first chapter to first century believers, James 1:13-15 claims that temptation is not God’s fault.  Rather, the process of giving into sin is a series of compromises, often subtle that lead careless souls on the verge of going beyond boundaries defined by the Bible.  Thus, James commands his readers to resist the Devil by submitting yourself to God.  Meanwhile, the apostle Paul adds another piece of this spiritual puzzle, 1 Corinthians 10:13, when tempted look for the way out of your predicament.  If there is one song that demonstrates the danger that lurks on the other side of a keyhole it’s the children’s classic O Be Careful Little Eyes.  May this blog inspire you to avoid taking a second glance so that the urge to sin is quickly broken by eyes fixated on the cross of Jesus, Hebrews 12:1-4.

by Jay Mankus

The Squeeze

Squeeze has multiple definitions depending upon the context.  This term can refer to firmly gripping an object, getting through a restricted space, obtaining something with difficultly or shooting a round from a gun.  In the 2015 film the Squeeze, a young hot shot golfer played by Jeremy Sumpter is lured by a high priced gambler to play golf for money.  Based upon the real life events of Keith Flatt, Sumpter goes to Las Vegas to put his life and family on the line in a high stakes bet for 1 million dollars.  In the end, Sumpter has to choose between keeping the woman of his dreams or remaining undefeated as a golfer.

For God knows that on the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened [that is, you will have greater awareness], and you will be like God, knowing [the difference between] good and evil.” And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was delightful to look at, and a tree to be desired in order to make one wise and insightful, she took some of its fruit and ate it; and she also gave some to her husband with her, and he ate, Genesis 3:5-6.

After Lucifer was kicked out of heaven for glorifying himself as the most beautiful arch angel, he took with him a third of the angels.  Maintaining angelic powers while on earth, Ephesians 2:2, this ruler of the air recruited powers of darkness to put the squeeze on mankind.  Lucifer’s first victim is an innocent woman, Eve, curious about the Tree of Knowledge.  Although her husband Adam was right there with her, he allowed enticement to linger.  This lack of spiritual leadership enabled sin to be conceived.

Then the Lord said, “My Spirit shall not strive and remain with man forever, because he is indeed flesh [sinful, corrupt—given over to sensual appetites]; nevertheless his days shall yet be a hundred and twenty years,” Genesis 6:3.

By the time of Noah’s generation, the presence of sin spread like a spiritual plague throughout the earth.  Disappointed by the choices made by the human beings, God decided to punish future generations by limiting life on earth to 120 years.  Similar to the tactics used by Riverboat played by Christopher McDonald in the Squeeze, temporary pleasures are hard to resist.  What make matters worse is that Satan knows your weaknesses, luring weakened souls to indulge their sensual appetites.  In the end, what choices will you make when you are squeezed by temptation?  Choose wisely.

by Jay Mankus

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