the weblog of Alan Knox

A church that perseveres through temptation

Posted by on Mar 20, 2012 in community, discipleship | 2 comments

A church that perseveres through temptation

A few months ago, I wrote a series about some of the lessons that I’ve learned trail running. But, I want to talk about something else that I’m learning as a result of running: perseverance. You see, even though I love to run, that does not mean that I love to run every week, or every day, or every step. Sometimes, I have to make myself run even though I don’t want to. That’s perseverance. Sometimes, I have to start running again because I’ve stopped for a time. That’s perseverance.

Perseverance is one of those difficult lessons. First, it’s difficult because it always involved something that is not easy. Second, it’s difficult because it’s easy to drift into thinking that it’s all about me or all by my power. Finally, it’s difficult because it’s easy to sit back and assume that God is going to make everything pleasant and perfect and desirable before I have to get started. But, perseverance isn’t any of those things.

So, in this short series, I’m going to look at some aspects of life in which the church is called to persevere… to stand fast… the keep on keeping on… to not stop.

The first of these is temptation. James writes:

Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. (James 1:12-14 ESV)

While temptation can come from many different directions, James points to our own hearts as the center of temptation. Even when the temptation is spiritual or worldly (systemic), it is the desires of our own heart (perhaps to control our own lives) that makes lure a temptation.

Here’s the thing: temptation is something that will come. It seems to be a given in Scripture. (Jesus said, “Temptations to sin are sure to come” – Luke 17:1) But, it is also something that must be withstood. Like other forms of perseverance, standing firm in withstanding temptation (withstanding firm?) is hard work. It is not something that is pleasant, and it is not something that we also want to do.

What does this have to do with the church? Well, withstanding temptation can be a community exercise. Yes, sin is often personal, but it is never ONLY personal. Sin and temptation always affect the body of Christ, whether we realize it or not and whether we know how it is affected or not.

We must understand and accept that when we yield to temptation we are harming the church. Then, we must be willing to ask for the church’s help in persevering in withstanding temptation. (If someone or some group judges you because you are tempted in a certain area, then find another group of brothers and sisters who will not judge you, who will accept you, and who will stand with you to persevere through these temptations.)

Yes, we need God to persevere through temptation. Yes, we need to stand firm ourselves when we are tempted. But, we also need one another. We can persevere together against temptation.

I’d love to hear your stories about how your brothers and sisters in Christ have helped you or others persevere through temptation.


2 Comments

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  1. 3-20-2012

    One of the things I have recently (within the year) been through is I quit smoking. (Gasp) I know- I have been a Christian most of my life, but those 10 years I spent out in the world developed some bad habits in me that God has and is dealing with in me. Smoking was the last thing I was holding on to from my past. (Bar hopping and drinking went away fairly quickly…just sayin’.)
    So when I quit smoking, a very good friend touched base with me every day. She held me accountable to a higher standard. She took me away from the stresses of the day and distracted me from my obsession. She reminded me that God had something for me that was better than the cigarette that in that moment I missed so much and was tempted to go back to. She prayed for me and she prayed with me.
    For me it was smoking. For you it may be something else. I think that together we are stronger than we are apart. A 3-fold cord is not easily broken.

  2. 3-21-2012

    Dayna,

    Congratulations on quitting smoking! I hope you are seeing health benefits from that change. I’m glad to hear that your sister was able to help you with that.

    -Alan