I’ve learned some valuable lessons about myself through the years. For the past thirty years I’ve learned that I have a definite predisposition to take the “bait” when I take my eyes off the Lord. By “taking the bait” I mean that I’m a sucker for temptation when I’m not seeking to live for Christ each moment of each day. I might classify them as “big” temptations or “little” temptations, but I’ve learned that I lose the battle frequently when I’m not focused on the One who calls me be “holy” as He is “holy.”
I never gave it a thought when I was young, before I accepted Christ. I was simply doing what I wanted to do. I did what I wanted to do, but most of the time I ended up suffering the consequences for the decisions I made. For the past thirty years I’ve been seeking to live my life for the Lord and I still struggle with temptation. I need all of the help I can get to resist temptation. James provides me with some of the most practical and productive advice I’ve ever found.
James’ prescription for avoiding temptation is quite simple: 1) Submit myself to God. What James means is that I must literally take the desires and wants that I know are opposed to God’s best for me and give them to Him so that I don’t live them out. I must seek His best for me above all else. 2) Resist the devil, and he will flee from me. Polls tell me that folks don’t even believe in a literal “Devil” or “Satan” today. Hard to resist what you don’t believe in. It’s like saying you won’t evacuate your home because you don’t believe in tornadoes. Whether you believe in them or not, they can destroy your home. Jesus said that Satan comes to “steal, kill, and destroy.” (John 10:10) I am to resist, not give in to the temptations that come my way. The biggest battles I’ve fought have been in my own mind. I must fight on! 3) Last of all, “Come near to God and he will come near to me…” There is no question about: The closer I stay to my Father the less likely I am to be duped into taking the bait. The more my mind is fixed on Him the stronger I become in resisting temptation.
My prayer today, Lord, is that You will help me submit, resist, and draw near.