Day 22 – Lead me not into temptation…

Temptation

4182615 s 350x326 Day 22   Lead me not into temptation……but deliver me from evil (Mat 6:13)

One of the greatest things I used to struggle with as a Christian was the incredible sense of guilt I felt when I didn’t do what the Bible said to do. When I got angry at a stupid driver or felt deeply jealous of someone else’s success (just to name two), I’d beat myself up for days and feel as if I’d failed miserably and really hurt God’s heart.

In the early days I would feel like I’d let ‘the process’ down. Like I’d failed to stay the course that I had committed myself to – that of being a Christian. It was like this Christianity thing was a new project for me to conquer. Unfortunately for me, it proved to be much more difficult than anything I’d ever done before. At least that’s what I thought in the early years. Now I know that it’s exactly the opposite…but more on that later.

So, just like everyone else, I had ‘temptations’. Both those common to everyone, as well as my own special little hangups. Things like trying to eat healthily and staying fit (giving up eating so much chocolate was the worst). I had a bad temper that used to flare up at the drop of a hat and I really struggled to calm it down. I had always relied on my own ability and proactivity, so laying that down and learning to hear from, and trust God, was difficult for me.

I would go to bed after making yet another decision to ‘get it right tomorrow’, only to mess up in some area again. I would get so mad at myself and call myself ‘stupid’ and ‘useless’ and sometimes I’d just stay in that place of feeling worthless, for days on end. Eventually when the worst of the condemnation had subsided, I’d decide to try again.

This went on for years!

I got to the point where I was sick and tired of the cycles of ‘up and down’. Sometimes feeling on top of the world and sometimes just wanting to be squashed under it.

Then I heard a teaching on temptation that blew my incorrect thinking out of the water. I had always thought that to feel tempted meant that I was weak and wasn’t being a strong enough Christian. I thought it meant that I’d failed, yet again and I would go into the cycle of condemnation, guilt and recovery again.
What I learned was that it’s not the ‘feeling tempted’ that God knows isn’t good for us, but the ‘falling into it’. There’s a big difference between the two.

So I started looking at this more closely and asking the Holy Spirit to show me where it happened in my life, so that He and I could get it healed. I began to see that when something happened that would trigger anger in me, I started to become aware of what was happening far more quickly than I used to. I’d ‘wake up’ to the fact that I was gwtting angry and be able to see what was happening as if I was looking in on the situation. This gave me the opportunity to decide whether I would continue going down the path of being angry or if I’d choose to stop.

God knows that one of the devil’s main tactics against us is to tempt us to do things that God says aren’t healthy for us. It will happen all day long because he’s always trying to get us to feel bad or do bad. It’s what he does.

The difference is whether we fall for it or not.

Being tempted means that something happens to ‘push our buttons’. In my case today, I felt like I hadn’t worked hard enough (we all have areas where we’re particularly vulnerable).
Someone might cut you off in traffic or clothes are left lying on the floor even though you’ve asked for them to be put in the hamper 100 times or someone gets a promotion that you think you deserve or the checkout lady is rude to you etc. Whatever it is that can push your buttons, it will come along and try to tip you over the edge into a full-blown reaction. Allowing these reactions to happen is what is called ‘falling into temptation’ and that’s what God knows is not good for us at all.

When I understood the difference between ‘being tempted’ and ‘falling into temptation’, I was so relieved. Now I knew that I could ask the Holy Spirit to help me to become aware of being tempted and then ask Him for help not to fall into it. I realized that there would always be temptation around me and that the devil was actively trying to get me to fall into it and act on what I saw/experienced/felt. When I really ‘got’ this, I stopped feeling bad for my initial reactions to tempting situations but I also realized that this meant that I was aware of the CHOICE I now have to fall into them or not. Now I have the awareness of what is happening and it will be my choice to stay out of it or fall into it. This will determine how much I access the grace that God gives me to help me not to fall into it, once I’m aware of it.

When a situation comes up now, the Holy Spirit quickly makes me aware of what’s happening and, most of the time, I quickly repent (say I’m sorry and make a decision to go in God’s direction and not the devil’s) and quickly access the grace to be able to let the situation go. Then I ask for wisdom to know what is really going on and what to do about it. I ask the Holy Spirit to heal whatever is still hurting in me that causes there to be that button that the devil can push and then I just say thank You for ‘rescuing me’, receive God’s forgiveness and I shake it off and move on. This all takes a couple of seconds and happens many times a day.

I’m so grateful for Jesus giving me the opportunity to do this because of what He did on the Cross. I’m so grateful that He knows what I’m going through and has given me the opportunity to hold on tight to the Holy Spirit and get His help, every moment of the day. Wow! I’m so grateful that I no longer have to live through those massive highs and lows that I used to. Now, it’s easier to realize what’s happening and I’m quicker to access all the help that God has put in place to help me recover instantly and completely and just move right on with life. I’m so grateful that all of this doesn’t rely on my effort in order to be successful – it’s totally God’s strength and goodness that makes the whole thing work. Now I realize that being a Christian isn’t complicated at all, it’s really very, very simple. Not always easy, but very simple. Love God (wonderful Father God, amazing Jesus and precious Holy Spirit) and let them show me how truly astounding they are and how very much they love me too.

I’m just so very, very grateful.

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