In our ongoing battle against the world, the flesh, and the devil, we must be serious enough to make specific commitments to stand against the temptations that we face every day. Here are two wonderful examples from the biblical record that are a source of great encouragement and strength for every Christian in the middle of the battle.
I made a covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully at a girl. (Job 31:1)
Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way. (Daniel 1:8)
In The Discipline of Grace, Jerry Bridges wrote, “We are vulnerable to [two] kinds of temptations. Some arise from indwelling sin that still resides in our hearts; others come as a result of the environment in which we live or work.”
Job, who lived centuries before the time of Christ, provides insight into the Christian condition, a condition that remains sinful even after Jesus shows up. Sin no longer reigns in our lives, but it certainly remains, and we are to take sword to it every day. The temptation Job battled is one which all men and women face today: the inclination to look lustfully at someone. The ongoing temptation to do this is simply a result of the indwelling sin that remains in us.
Daniel, on the other hand, made it clear that we face temptation because we live in a sinful culture. Daniel lived in an unholy environment; but instead of giving in to it, Daniel resolved to remain holy, regardless of the cost.
Some people mistakenly think that making such commitments is “works of the flesh” and we ought not to be doing such things. We need only trust in God, they say. Well, let me provide a news flash. To be sure, we must trust in God and His empowering grace to provide the strength we need to resist temptations. But we must make the commitment to resist them! Resisting temptation must be our serious commitment if we are ever to make progress against it. We must pray and work, as much as it is within our power to do so. Job and Daniel remind us that the battle is both within and without, and we must be on guard on both fronts.
So . . . in what areas do you need to consider making specific commitments to fight against temptation? Are you willing to do so? Make no mistake; God has given you the greatest motive and motivation for sustained effort against temptation: His name is Jesus Christ. Keeping in view what Jesus has done on our behalf and will do in our future is the fuel that ignites the fire of our faith and inspires continual commitment to fight against all temptations—within and without.
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!