the Church on the Hill
by D. Eric Williams
Pastor, Cottonwood Community Church
The Bible promises Believers a way of escape from temptation yet many Christians find that they lack the desire to turn away from ungodly enticement. The key to pointing your desire in the right direction is a preliminary longing to obey God.
For instance, a sexual appetite that is not controlled by the accompanying desire for godliness will lead to fantasy, involvement in pornography, and infidelity. On the other hand, sexual desire that is tempered by an overriding yearning for godliness will be kept under control and satisfied only within in a marriage relationship. This is not to say that a married person is allowed to inflame their desire using ungodly means as long as they satisfy that desire with their spouse. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness (2 Corinthians 6:14)? No, the whole of your walk must be characterized by biblically defined righteousness (1 Peter 4:1-2).
If you hope to develop a desire to obey God you must cultivate the new creation given you in Christ. This means that you should feed on those things that strengthen your new nature rather than consume matter that adds to the trash left behind by the old man. In Philippians 4:8 it says, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. For some, the first hurdle will be the boredom they experience when they read the Bible or spend time in other godly pursuits. Frankly this should be a warning signal. If you are not hungry for the things of God then I join Paul in encouraging you to examine [yourself], to see whether you are in the faith. Test [yourself]. Or do you not realize this about [yourself], that Jesus Christ is in you?--unless indeed you fail to meet the test (2 Corinthians 13:5).
On the other hand if you simply need a nudge to get moving in the right direction than I ask you to heed Paul’s words to the Church in Rome: Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord (Romans 12:11). In any case, it is imperative that you immerse yourself in the Word. It is also crucial that you do not allow yourself to drift intellectually and emotionally. If you hope to cultivate a desire for godliness which enables you to escape temptation then you must be a “mindful” Christian. This means that you must think on the things of the Lord and exercise yourself toward godliness (1 Timothy 4:7). Godliness is not something that simply “happens.”
When you exercise yourself toward godliness you are accumulating the resources you need to escape temptation. In his second letter to Timothy, Paul indicates that anyone who cleanses himself from worldliness is better able to flee the enticement of sin (2 Timothy 2:21-22). Part of the reason for this is because you will have your mind full of good things that you can turn to in order to pull your desire in the right direction. The fact is, your mind cannot think of nothing. Hence, in the battle to escape temptation, a mind filled with God’s word is better able to turn away from temptation. On the contrary, a mind filled with the things of the world will naturally come to rest on ideas that make it impossible to escape temptation.
We will return to the topic of escaping temptation in a couple weeks. Until then, flee temptation, pursue righteous-ness, godliness, faith, love, patience and gentleness while you fight the good fight of faith (1 Timothy 6:11-12).