Headphones And Homiletics
As you begin the new year, it is wise to look back at last year to see areas of success, failure, and the need for improvement in your spiritual life. Regardless of how great your year was, you have sins that need to be repented of. There are temptations that need more diligence in guarding against.
Being watchful against sin means knowing when temptation arises and having a plan for how to fight. One way is to look closely at the cycle of temptation in order to develop a battle plan. Since temptation is a part of the fabric of life for the believer, it is wise to understand a general pattern for temptation.
5 Steps In The Path of Sin and Temptation
In Genesis 3:1-7, we see Eve faced with temptation from the "crafty" serpent who is later called "the ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan" (Rev. 20:2). Taking a closer look at his tactics will reveal a lot about the process of temptation. As you read, consider how you’ve seen this progression in your own life.
1. The Word of God is twisted and contradicted. (Gen. 3:1-4)
Satan asks Eve tricky questions to trip her up and bring confusion: "Did God actually say?", "You will not surely die". Sometimes—because our flesh is weak—Satan doesn't even have to prompt such twisting. Men often twist the scriptures to their own destruction (2 Peter 3:16). This first layer of temptation is especially dangerous for those who are lax in their devotional lives, especially Bible reading and prayer. If we don’t have a steady diet of daily bread, we will be anemic Christians in times of temptation.
2. A convincing argument is made against God and the meaning of His Word. (Gen. 3:5)
Satan offers a convincing argument for his contradiction and paints God as keeping something from Eve. This happens so often and so subtly. For example, "Be angry and do not sin" gets turned into, "you have the right to be angry, so your response can't be sinful! Even Jesus turned over tables and beat people with whips!". See how assumptions turn into facts and allow us to justify sin?
You can also see Satan sneakily throw shade at God: “For God knows that when you eat...you will be like God.” It’s like Satan said, “See Eve! He’s keeping something from you! He doesn’t want you to be happy or live your life to the fullest! Break free from this bondage and really find out what it means to be in the image of God!” Again, craftiness at it’s best.
3. The contradiction and argument are embraced. (Gen. 3:6)
Eve thought enough about Satan's argument to change her mindset about the tree. She set her mind on the flesh (Rom. 8:6). She began to covet what she didn't need rather than appreciate the forest around her, leading her into idolatry (Col 3:5). The fruit appealed to the flesh, eyes, and pride of life (1 John 2:16).
How often are we settled in our convictions about a sin only to conjure up some strange reason for why we might not have to fight it after all. For example: "It's only lust if you look twice, right?". We hear the lie, consider the serpent’s logic, and then embrace the contradiction.
4. The sin is committed. (Gen 3:6)
Eve took of the tree and ate. She embraced the lie of Satan so much that she threw away God's command like yesterday’s trash. When we get to the point of committing sin, it may not always be as conscious and certainly not as willful, but we all still take this step and make this choice. We can never say, “the devil made me do it!”. James 1:14 is clear that when we sin, it is due to being “lured and enticed” by our “desire”. Eve demonstrated this clearly when she saw that the tree was “to be desired to make one wise” (Gen. 3:6).
Sadly, we often sin with that anxious feeling in our stomachs because we've wrestled with it, but ultimately saw fruit that seemed more glorious than God. We must fear this lest we be "hardened by the deceitfulness of sin" (Heb. 3:13).
5. Others are invited to partake in, or are supported in, their committing of the sin. (Gen 3:6)
Finally, Eve gave some fruit to Adam (who was with her!), and he ate. Even in our “secret” sins, we often try to convince others that it’s not such a big deal, or we partake in sins that involve others. In turn, we "give approval to those who practice them" (Rom 1:32).
Consider the sin of gossip. You’ve heard more than you should have, or you know about a situation more than others. You know you shouldn’t ask for more details or get into the nitty gritty of what you know. In that moment you could be honest and say, "You know, this is moving into gossip, I’m sorry. Please forgive me." Instead, you give the details with a perceived sense of concern or righteous anger, but you really just enjoy the conversation. Now you’ve brought others into sin with you. Replace with gluttony, along with many other sins, and you can see the same outcome.
A Beam of Hope
While some Bible readers spend much time trying to determine what the fruit was, what it meant for Eve to talk to the serpent, what the nature of her sin was, etc., it is more important to realize that we are weak and need help in the time of temptation. Jesus, our great High Priest, was "in every respect, tempted as we are, yet without sin" (Heb. 4:15). As we behold the glory of Christ, we are being transformed into His image (2 Cor 3:18). We are only able to fight temptation if we have trusted in Christ as our Savior and are walking in the power of the Holy Spirit.
In your temptation, rely on the Spirit and look to Christ. Before your temptation, behold Christ’s glory by drinking deeply from the rich well of scripture. If you fall into sin, trust that He is interceding for His sheep and has paid for sin once-for-all for those who have placed faith in Him. Christ is the headcrusher of the serpent, and He is our very present help in time of need (Ps. 46:1).
Next time, Lord willing, we will look at fighting temptation the way that Jesus did.
2019 is underway, and many of you have probably already started your new Bible reading plan. You’re likely working your way through Genesis and Matthew and starting to get into a groove. You’re getting up early or staying up late to read, you’re highlighting and underlining like crazy, and you’re enjoying it.
But as we all know, that dreaded Monday is soon to come. You won’t feel like getting out of bed to read. You’ll be too tired to stay up and read. Your eyes will just gloss over the page or you’ll totally lose focus while you’re listening to your favorite audio Bible.
Life happens, but the blessed man meditates on God’s Word “day and night” (Psalm 1:2). With such busy and hectic lives, we must keep reading our Bibles and seeking the Lord.
5 Tips To Help You Keep Reading
So, how do you abide in Christ (John 15:4) and walk by the Spirit (Galatians 5:16) in the 21st century? Though not even close to an exhaustive list, here are some practical tips that can help you spend more time in God’s Word this year:
Acknowledge your dependence on God’s Word. Jesus quoted Deuteronomy 8:3 when He was tempted by Satan in Matthew 4:4. He said, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” If we want to live and thrive spiritually, we need to be eating the bread of the Word on a daily basis. Confess this to God and others on a regular basis. Deut. 8:11-14 serve as a good reminder that prosperity can lead to spiritual forgetfulness and carelessness.
Pray daily and ask for God to give you delight in His Word. Not only should you depend on the Word, you should enjoy it! Ask God to give you the heart of David when he said of the word: “more to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb” (Psalm 19:10).
Make Bible reading a part of your daily routine. Though it should be much more than a mere routine, reading the Bible should be something that you do every day. If you’re a list person, add it to the top of your daily to-do list. Keep a journal or document with your daily readings in it. In Deuteronomy 6:7, God called His people to talk about his Word when they sit in their house, as they walk, etc. The Word can’t go with us in all of life if we are not reading it and knowing it daily.
Meditate on something from your daily reading. Whether it is a journal, text message, or simply sitting in silence, do something to process a portion of your daily reading. It is vital that we “meditate day and night” (Psalm 1:2). This is a good time to ask: How does what I’m reading apply to my life?
Read the Bible with a spouse, your children, a friend, or an accountability partner. One way to keep you reading the Word is to read and talk about it with others. We talk to people about what we delight in. If you have children, share your daily reading with them, too! Again, we see in Deuteronomy 6:7 to take the Word everywhere we go and to talk of them with everyone we meet.
Care For Your Soul Like You Do For Your Body
Put simply, Bible reading isn’t a thing you do to mark off your list. It is as vital to the soul as eating and drinking are to the body. Each week, we plan what we are going to eat, we make a grocery list, we shop, we cook, and we eat. Even when we don't do these things, we make sure our bodies are fed. All of this is to take care of body that is perishing (2 Corinthians 4:16). How much more diligence and care should we have for our eternal souls?
What are some practical tips that help you read your Bible day after day?
You may be wondering why I'm still talking about Christmas books in January. For many parents and grandparents, Christmas is a wonderful and exhausting time of year. If you're like me, you're too tired to even think about Christmas 2019!
However, before you put Christmas 2018 on the shelf, I want you to ask yourself some questions: Was your Christmas a "Jesus Christmas"? Was Jesus as much at the center of your Christmas as you desired? Did you make time to emphasize Christ during your family's devotional time last month?
Whether you're disappointed with the Christ focus of your Christmas or just want to keep up the steam from this Christmas, A Jesus Christmas: Explore God's Amazing Plan For Christmas by Barbara Reaoch is something you'll want to add to your bookshelf for Advent 2019.
Barbara Reaoch has made this book friendly for families of all ages and sizes. Each day families are called to explore, explain, engage, and enter in to a passage of scripture. The "engage" questions are keyed to different age groups so that all of your children can get in on the discussion. There is even an answer sheet on thegoodbook.com so parents can be confident that they give their children the correct answers to all the questions!
This isn't your average children's Christmas devotional guide. It is gospel-centered, richly theological, and sound in doctrine. Children will be exposed to biblical Christology as well as the amazing Christmas story throughout the month of December.
My most favorite aspect A Jesus Christmas is the family journaling space. Parents and older kids can journal directly in the book, bringing the experience even closer to home. Younger children and those with some artistic flair even have a large blank page to draw a picture or word art.
If you want a more Christ-centered Christmas for you and your family in 2019, get your copy of A Jesus Christmas today!
I received a free copy of this book from the publisher. I was not required to leave a positive review.
*As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
Chrys Jones is a Christian, husband, father of three, pastor, and teacher. He is also a recording artist and producer for Christcentric Records and a book briefer for Accelerate Books. In his free time, Chrys loves to spend time with his family, roast coffee, read good books, and listen to beat tapes and jazz.