July 9th

 

Temptations and the Crown of Life

"Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him."  James 1:12 NIV 

Resisting the temptations of the world can be hard work.  We have a tremendous promise if we persevere in doing so –  that God will give us a  “crown of life.”  Exactly what the crown of life is can be somewhat of a mystery.   

What we do know is that following the way of sin will lead ultimately to spiritual and physical death, but obeying God will give us life.  Paul wrote, 5Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. 6The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace” (Romans 8:5-6 NIV).  We can consider this a type of “spiritual law,” which is echoed in Galatians 6:8 NIV: The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.”  

Proverbs 6 & 7 give us practical examples of this law at work in sexual temptations.  Solomon wrote:  23For these commands are a lamp, this teaching is a light, and the corrections of discipline are the way to life, 24 keeping you from the immoral woman, from the smooth tongue of the wayward wife. 25 Do not lust in your heart after her beauty or let her captivate you with her eyes, 26 for the prostitute reduces you to a loaf of bread, and the adulteress preys upon your very life (Proverbs 6:23-26 NIV).

When we follow the Lord’s commands and store them up in our hearts, we walk in the way of life and have a certain amount of protection against falling into seduction by immoral people.  Even so, we must take care to do our part by restraining ourselves from lusting after such people and/or letting them captivate us with their eyes.  If we give such people an opportunity, they will “prey” upon our life by leading us into sin.   

In Proverbs 7, we find an example of a young man who walked into the snare of an immoral woman.  21 With persuasive words she led him astray; she seduced him with her smooth talk. 22 All at once he followed her like an ox going to the slaughter, like a deer stepping into a noose 23 till an arrow pierces his liver, like a bird darting into a snare, little knowing it will cost him his life (Proverbs 7:21-23 NIV).  This young man reaped the consequences for his sin and no doubt was pierced with corrupting thoughts, lust and other evils.   

As we consider the temptations that present themselves to us each day, we’ll do well to heed Solomon’s warning to his son:   

“25 Do not let your heart turn to her ways or stray into her paths. 26 Many are the victims she has brought down; her slain are a mighty throng. 27 Her house is a highway to the grave, leading down to the chambers of death” (Proverbs 7:25-27 NIV). 

The temptation obviously may not be an immoral woman for every person.  It could be any person, place or thing that leads us into sin or has the potential to lead us into sin.  As we walk with God, the Holy Spirit will help us recognize the potential temptations that come across our paths. He will also show us a way out of the temptation (1 Corinthians 10:13) such that we can resist or avoid it.  By following the Spirit and obeying God, we will reap life both here on earth and in eternity.   

Questions for further thought:

Prayer:

“Lord God, thank you for your commandments that bring life.  Thank you for the promise of the crown of life that is mine when I resist temptations.  Please help me to recognize the paths to danger when I see them and to stay clear of them.   Please protect me from evil people and people who would try to lead me into sin.  Thank you for promising to provide a way out of every temptation I may face.  Thank you that in Christ, I am an overcomer!   I praise you now and forever, Amen.”