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Temptation

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How to avoid sin. Where light exists darkness cannot.

So, since Christ suffered in the flesh, you also arm yourselves with the same attitude, because the one who has suffered in the flesh has finished with sin, in that he spends the rest of his time on earth concerned about the will of God and not human desires.  (1Pet 4:1-2 NET)

question for thought.   Are you concerned about the will of God? Really?

There are different interpretations as to exactly what the Spirit means for us in this passage. Some think it has to do with the believer having power over sin in Christ which certainly is true and partly what is being said; and others say more likely it is  when we endure suffering for Christ we show our purpose is to not live for self, but for God, which also is a truth this passage conveys.

Yet even beyond these I see an important even more practical message of God being taught here that some miss.

Peter says to arm yourselves with the same way of thinking as Christ who suffered in the flesh...and then tells us these things. He is giving us practical way to avoid sin and self-living. Instructions to a new way to think. (remember context is important to know the proper interpretations of what someone is saying)

He goes on to say that one who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin. Is he saying once we suffer for Christ we become sinless? It seems to say that at first glance. But no.  He is speaking of practical theory here. He is telling us how to be like Christ and be a conquerer of sin in a practical way, a 'mindset' we should take on so we can be more holy in our living. He said take on this attitude. You see? He continues...  "so as to live our remaining life in this flesh not for human fleshly passions but for the will of God." Then in verses following he gives practical examples of what living for self looks like.... Sensuality, drunkenness, wild partying, lawless idolatry and such debauchery.  Peter is saying we must make our daily choices to live for the will of God and not for our natural desires, and in doing so we will not sin. This is taking the offense, not the defense against sin and the old flesh. The secret to an overcoming life like that of Christ, is to put God first in all things. Where light exists darkness cannot. Pray to him every moment in total dependence like Jesus did while on earth. Jesus is our human example in how to manage fleshly temptations to live for self. We must learn to deny self by filling our every moment with God and his will for our lives at the that moment. Yes this is the greatest suffering for Christ that we will ever do. Outward persecutions are easier to bear than those daily, gnawing, cravings of the old flesh from within to live in prideful self ruler-ship and to set submission to God aside. But Peter is telling us that denying self and pursing God in Christ will keep us in pure holy living, thus avoiding sin. Give no room for the flesh. This is wisdom. So while I am choosing to suffer purposely for Christ by denying self, sin is being put to death in my body. Here in is how the old American proverb is held true. "Idle hands are the devil's so workshop."

Purpose today to do more things solely in the Spirit's leading. Avoid idleness and look for ways to serve God by serving others in Jesus' name. Fill your days and life with the Light, and the darkness of sin will have no place to reside.

"How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word. With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments! I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. Blessed are you, O Lord" (Ps 119:9-12a)

In essence God is telling us through Peter's words that seeking God with our whole heart is how we guard our hearts from sin. Listening to him and following him is our pathway to live holy and not sin against him. Will we fail at times? Yes, we are human. But in the grace of Christ with his ever cleansing blood, humbly we can continue on and do even better as though we are pure and holy before God... because in Jesus Christ, we are! Seek him and avoid sins of the flesh. That... is living in the Spirit.

May the Spirit of Emmanuel fill you this holiday season. They you will indeed have a Merry Christmas. God bless you.

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Temptation to do wrong

Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted by evil, and he himself tempts no one.  But each one is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desires.  Then when desire conceives, it gives birth to sin, and when sin is full grown, it gives birth to death. -James 1:13-15 NET This thing of temptation, unfortunately I am an expert in, as is everyone who has lived for any time in this life. Unfortunately most of us are also professional "spcapegoaters". Do you know where the term scapegoats came from? In the law given through Moses, a symbolic thing the Jews had to do ritually each year when it came time for a sin offering during the Day or Atonement. They would kill a goat and take it's blood into the Holy of Holies to symbolically pay for the nation's sin and they also had to set a goat loose into the wilderness whose head was put some of the blood of the slain goat. That second goat symbolically carried the sins of the people away. Their blame was laid on it and it took the blame for what they did wrong.  It was the scapegoat. It was a foreshadowing of what the Messiah was to do in taking away our blame before God. This wasn't hard for people to picture because we naturally don't want to face our consequences for our wrongs even today. We want to divert attention off ourselves when we do wrong and blame someone or something rather than humbly take ownership, repentance, and seek godly change.   Some accuse  God of making them sin even if indirectly, by saying it's just to hard to resist some temptations and God should make it easier for them. God does allow temptations to test us, yes, but it's not him tempting us. He equips us with His Spirit and wants us to learn to notice the signs of temptation and immediately turn to Jesus for power to overcome. It is hard to break old habits, but in Christ we can do all things! Now we know Satan and the demons tempt us also at times, but notice their absence in this scripture. What is it that tempts us according to this passage? Our own human desires.  We don't need to blame anyone other than ourselves for failing to live holy, in our own flesh really is no good thing. Thus the war we must daily fight, by drawing near our source of righteousness and power to overcome.  Jesus. 

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  Christ in me is all that really is good.    Thank you Lord for promising to never leave me, nor forsake me, because daily I need you. Thank you also for your shed blood that washes me whiter than snow, the times I do fail you. Because it is against you alone O God who ultimately I sin and must come to for cleansing. May I always confess my sins before you LORD Jesus, and hold nothing back,  since you have promised me you are faithful and just to forgive me my sins and to purify me from all unrighteousness...Always .   Amen.

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