Friday, 10 February 2012
By T.G. Blankenship at The Gethsemane Blog
James 1:14-15 - But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.
In Genesis 4:6-7 God speaks to Cain after having ignored Cain for bringing him an offering that was not righteous. God's ignoring of Cain frustrated the unrighteous man. God said to Cain, "Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it."
Sin crouches at our door, it awaits us all. Temptation will seize us. Living well will bring us near to God but not living well will bring us closer to being devoured by sin. Sin desires us and yet we are able to overcome it, to conquer it. God tells Cain he must rule over sin which desires him and this must mean Cain is able to do so. The same is true of us today.
1 Corinthians 10:13 - No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.
God supplies us with an escape and the ability to endure temptation. Some translations replace 'endure' with the phrase 'stand up under' which means that though temptation is over us, pressing down on us, we are able to not be crushed underfoot but rather have the strength to stand firm, not wavering. There is hope. We do not need to despair an inevitable failure when it comes to battling against temptation and sin. This is a beast we may fight and defeat just as Christ did in the desert.
To live well and conquer temptation is a difficult struggle. To live out what Christ has taught us through his teachings and example often seems impossible. We will all fall short of God's glory, sinning from time to time. Anyone who says they do not struggle in this way is a liar according to the New Testament (1John 1:,8-10). Paul admits he lives this life of doing what he does not desire to do in Romans 7. Every human shall struggle with doing evil and good. Every human shall fail.
Yet the call to Cain remains for us. Sin desires us and we must rule over it. We can endure the temptation. We have an escape. When we don't succeed in ruling over our sin I suggest we look to three helpful statements.
1 John 1:9 - If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Revelation 3:19 - Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent.
...if you are able to bear the entire yoke of the Lord, you will be perfect; but if you are not able, then at least do what you can. -The Didache
When we fail, let us confess and change our ways. Let us admit to God, agreeing with him that we did not do well but gave into temptation and lived in a way we did not desire and he did not intend. Let us begin to do good again and rule over sin. As we struggle forward, enduring temptation, let us not be liars but honest sinners under grace who do as much as we can to be perfect as Christ was. Let us repeat the cycle whenever necessary. Let us lean into the love of Christ who constantly intercedes for us before our just Creator, Father, and Judge.
Let us never stop seeking God. Go in peace.