Do you ever feel like every time you try to follow God's will for your life, you are immediately tempted? I know I do. It seems that virtually every time I finally get back on track with what God wants for me, I am tempted immediately and almost inevitably fall into sin. This is a bit embarrassing for me to admit, but I normally don't even last one temptation before I fall back into the "sin that so easily entangles" me (Hebrews 12:1). After this happens I am normally so ashamed of my sin that I feel that I cannot even "face God" that day, so I skip my prayer and Bible study. The next day the sin is even easier to commit, so I do it. But then, of course, I can't look God in the eye yet again so I avoid Him at all costs. This then becomes a daily habit and then I am back to where I started. Has this ever happened to you?
Why does this happen? Why are we so easily drawn into sin? Why is it then, in turn, we feel as though God will be somehow angry with us and won't want to talk to us? How can we let this happen?
I don't have the answers to most of these questions. Actually, I really don't have the answers to any of these questions. What I do have is the Bible, which gives many answers to these questions, along with my own personal experiences. First, and most importantly, I believe following what Jesus told his disciples at Gethsemane is the best way God has given us to defeat sin. In Matthew 26:41, Jesus says, "Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak." Jesus pretty much hits the nail on the head there. My spirit wants to follow God and do His will, but my flesh is paper thin. Therefore, the way that Jesus tells us to overcome this problem is by watching Him (studying the life of Jesus) because He was sinless on this earth, and prayer. In Hebrews 2:18, the author speaks of Jesus' temptation when he writes, "For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted." You see, Jesus was without sin, not without temptation. Because He was tempted and overcame it, he can help us to overcome it too. When temptation comes our way, if we do those two things, God will help us overcome it.
Other scriptures have great insights into temptation as well. In 1 Corinthians 10:13, Paul writes, "No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and He will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation He will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it." This passage is very encouraging to me, because I often forget that our enemy is not allowed to do anything without God allowing him to. This means that whatever Satan decides to throw at me, God sees that temptation and says, "Carter can make it through that unscathed." It seems as though God has a little more faith in me than I have in me. My spirit is willing, but my flesh is weak.
Because I have seen the weakness of my flesh, I have found that God has given me a few weapons to battle against the enemy. The first is, as stated before, God. If I simply watch Him and pray, he will deliver me. The second is also vitally important, especially at a place like Camp Ba Yo Ca, and that is the people around us. God has placed people in our lives for specific purposes, and I believe he wants, and even expects us to lean on those around us for support. Remember earlier when I was speaking of that "sin that so easily entangles us?" Well this is what the Bible has to say about that: "Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. (Hebrews 12:1-2a)" This verse outlines both tools that I speak of, but I want to focus on the "cloud of witnesses." Hebrews 11 is what many Christians refer to as the Hall of Faith. This chapter outlines the life of many important people in the Bible who lived by faith. The cloud of witnesses are those who lived for God before us, and those who are living for Him around us. God has given us these people to help in our battle against sin.
If you need a log sawn in half, but you never pick up a saw, will the job get done? If you need a board nailed to another, but never pick up a hammer, will you be successful?
God has given us the tools to succeed. All we need to do is use them.