Things Are True
by Dan Coburn
Pastor, Emmanuel Baptist Church
Last week we talked about Christmas as viewed through the lens of Condemnation (not a popular view). This week as advertized, we will look at The Cure. In order to understand this, we must begin by identifying the character qualities of Jesus as described in Galatians 5. These are the "fruit of the Spirit: ... Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control. In short, Jesus is perfect love. That said, how does Jesus develop this fruit in you? Is it suddenly? No. It is a process (sanctification). It like physical fruit, ripens over time.
Now fasten your pewbelts. God develops the fruit of the Spirit in your life by allowing you to experience circumstances in which you're tempted to express the exact opposite quality. What? Look at it this way. Character development always involves a choice, and Temptation is the prescribed way to provide the choice - IE - we learn love from being surrounded by unlovely people. we learn what joy is by way of experiencing sorrow. We learn peace via chaos and confusion.
So how does Temptation work? Paul said Satan is predictable - "lest Satan should get an advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices." 2nd Corr. 2:11 There is a four step process Satan used on Adam and Eve as well as Jesus, and then us.
Step One: He identifies a desire in you like sinful revenge or control. It could be a desire like hunger, thirst or to be loved or valued. "From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members? Ye lust and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not. Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts." James 4:1-3 Note: These are from within, not without.
Step Two: He causes us to doubt what God really says about sin - types and shadows or simply emphasis. "Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God." Heb. 3:12 Note that God calls Unbelief - evil.
Step Three: = Outright Deception. Many believe the ultimate Spiritual Test is as follows. If it is good (by my standards), it came from God. If conversely it is bad, it is from Satan. Not! "And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works." 2nd Cor. 11:14-15 Remember, 95% of rat poison is good food.
Step Four: Disobedience. This is done predominantly by rationalization. "Everybody does it. The Devil made me do it. I know God said it was sin, but things have changed." Not! "But every man is tempted when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed." James 1:14 You may be saying: "Man O man, this is so negative. I thought Christmas was a time for us to learn what love is." Well, in closing, I would like to quote Jesus as he was comforting some folks who lamented over His imminent crucifixion. "Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me, but weep for yourselves, and for your children. For, behold, the days are coming, in the which they shall say, Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bare, and the paps which never gave suck. Then shall they begin to say to the mountains, Fall on us; and to the hills, Cover us. For if they do these things in a green tree, what shall be done in the dry?" Luke 23:28-31. The Dryness of Spiritual Winter. This is the bad news, and none of us are immune. This is what makes the Good News so good. This is what Christmas is about, that Jesus provided the remedy (cure) for my depravity (condemnation). "MILD HE LAYS HIS GLORY BY, BORN THAT MAN NO MORE MAY DIE, BORN TO RAISE THE SONS OF EARTH, BORN TO GIVE THEM SECOND BIRTH. HARK! THE HERALD ANGELS SING, GLORY TO THE NEW BORN KING." Charles Wesley 1739.