Firing the clay
There is a strengthening of the Holy Spirit in a mature Christian that fortifies him against seeking evil ends. The new Life within him whets his desire for righteousness and dampens his love of wickedness. This is what John means when he writes, “Those who have been born into God’s family do not make a practice of sinning, because God’s life is in them. So they can’t keep on sinning, because they are children of God.” (1 John 3:9 – NLT)
But with this maturing comes also a new danger: the Christian can think himself above sin! This is why Paul sternly warns, “So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!” (1 Cor. 10:12) Smugness makes one clumsy. Old temptations we thought long defeated can pounce on us from behind.
As Pastor Andrew outlined to us on Sunday, there is a commonality about these: “the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life” (1 John 2:16). These things are common to us all for we all share in a common fallenness. “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man” (1 Cor. 10:13)
Yet for the mature believer these manifest in forms more insidious – often as “shortcuts” to what seems good. Oswald Chambers explains…
Temptation comes to me, suggesting a possible shortcut to the realization of my highest goal it does not direct me toward what I understand to be evil, but toward what I understand to be good. Temptation is something that confuses me for a while, and I don’t know whether something is right or wrong. When I yield to it, I have made lust a god…*
Jesus Christ experienced all these to their highest degree and defeated them with the same tools He has given us: the Word of God and prayer. Stated pastor Andrew, “Jesus was an example of dependence, not one of independence.” He demonstrated to us that we too must be dependent upon the Father.
Beware of thinking that you are tempted as no one else — what you go through is the common inheritance of the human race, not something that no one has ever before endured. God does not save us from temptations He sustains us in the midst of them.*
To experience temptation is no sin, but is necessary to fire the clay, to make one a more firmer “vessel of honor” (2 Tim. 2:20-21) in the service of our King.
“Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.” (Heb. 2:18). “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin.” (Heb. 4:15).
*My Utmost for His Highest, Oswald Chambers, Sept. 17 entry
To hear Pastor Andrew’s complete message, go to the NEW Lincoln Baptist Church website and look under ‘Sermons Online’ for the Sept. 15 message.