Saturday, September 17, 2011

Reading Together: How to Handle Temptation

On Thursday our small group got together for our discussion of the book What Every Christian Ought to Know by Adrian Rogers. Here are a few highlights on chapter 5—Every Christian Ought to Know How to Handle Temptation:

This week we talked about temptation. It’s like discussing sin: chances are you will fail sometime right before class begins and feel horribly inadequate to speak. How much more for the teacher!

Truth be told, we were still able to have a generally positive discussion and take a few thoughts away to chew on some more. Adrian Rogers points out three enemies we face when we’re dealing with temptation: the flesh, the world, and the devil.

The flesh is that inner inclination we have towards sin. It is not to be confused with our bodies, as though skin and bone is inherently sinful. If that were the case then Jesus would have to have been a sinner since He “has come in the flesh” (1 John 4:2). No, when Paul speaks of the flesh, he’s usually referring to what some translations call “the sinful nature.”

The world, likewise, should not be misunderstood to be the physical planet on which we live. Rather it is the collective human system in rebellion against God. It is constantly trying to mold us into its image (Rom. 12:2) instead of into the image of Christ (Rom. 8:29).

Finally, the devil confronts us. Though some would try to justify themselves by saying, “The devil made me do it,” the truth is that the devil offers us the opportunity—it is we who take the bait. Our sinful nature is quite capable of appealing to our appetite. It is the devil who challenges us and questions us, seeking to pull our fellowship away from God.

Against these three enemies, we must take three different actions. Against the flesh, we must flee. A child with his hand in a cookie jar should not hold his position to fight temptation, but flee. Against the world, we must have faith in Christ, our focus on Him. “And this is the victory that has overcome the world— our faith” (1 John 5:4). Against the devil, we must fight. James 4:7 says, “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” How do we resist? Read the first part of the verse: “Submit yourselves therefore to God.”

All in all our discussion was quite helpful. Though we had some deep conversation about whether man is essentially made up of three parts of just two, our focus was ultimately on our Savior who identifies with our weakness.

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. (1 Cor. 10:13)

To join us in our readings, get the book in English or Spanish and download the reader guide (in English or Spanish) to fill out for each chapter. Then stop by next week Saturday when we discuss chapter 6—Every Christian Ought to Know about Believers Baptism. 

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