We all struggle with the flesh and temptation.
Can I safely say that?
If you agree with that - as you are reading this - just quietly say, "yep, that's right."
It is true - and we will struggle with our sinful nature until the day we reach heaven.
As the old song says, "Won't it be wonderful there - having no burdens to bear."
Let me give you a principle for overcoming your flesh that can be summed up in one word:
In other words - how you react when you are caught off-guard by a temptation - shows the depth of your spiritual character. So be prepared.
Most of the time we can do fairly well when a temptation comes and gives us fair warning.
But sometimes the enemy will attack when we least expect it - and take advantage of our sinful nature and tendency to sin.
One of the favorite tactics of the enemy is to blindside you with a temptation.
Pastor Tim Keller paraphrases an analogy originally used by C.S. Lewis (in his book Mere Christianity) to demonstrate the nature of sin in our hearts.
"Now if you want to know if there are rats in your basement, you don't walk to your basement door, clear your throat, and say, "I think I'll go down and see if there are rats in my basement," then jiggle the knob, open the door and in a very leisurely way turn on the light, clear your throat, and walk down the steps loudly and slowly. When you get to the bottom you look around and say, "Well, what do you know: I have no rats in my basement."
He goes on to write:
"If you want to know if you have rats in your basement, you sneak up to the door, silently open the door, flick on the switch, jump to the bottom of the steps, and look around and they'll all be scurrying away. And then you'll know if you have rats."
Most of the time the enemy will not hit you head on, but will come at you as an "angel of light." (2 Corinthians 11:14).
In fact, C.S. Lewis writes:
"The excuse (for most of my sinful moments) that immediately springs to my mind is that the provocation was so sudden and unexpected; I was caught off my guard (like a rat who didn't get enough warning). Now that may be an extenuating circumstance as regards those particular acts: they would obviously be worse if they had been deliberate and premeditated. On the other hand, surely what a man does when he is taken off his guard is the best evidence for what sort of a man he is? Surely what pops out before the man has time to put on a disguise is the truth?"
My encouragement to you this day? Don't let the enemy blindside you!
Here are some principles for doing so:
Don't place yourself in a position to be tempted.
When temptation comes - run away. Don't argue with the enemy or try to rationalize with your flesh.
Pray as you begin the day that you will be protected from the evil one - and pray continually throughout the day.
Put on the full armor of God every morning.
Make a decision of how you would react when temptation comes; before the temptation comes.
Replace tempting thoughts in your mind with thoughts that are holy (Philippians 4:8).
Continually keep the negative consequences of "giving in" to the forefront.
Just some thoughts for a Tuesday.