One of my dear friends, a devout church-goer, had struggled with sin for a long time. The repetitive cycle of falling into temptation had taken a vice-like grip on his life, and as hope of ever breaking free seemed to fade away, he realized that he stood in at an impasse. “Why is this happening to me?” he cried. “Why can’t I break this vicious cycle of sin?”
At the end of his rope, he decided to rededicate his life to the Lord, who had recently spared him from a fatal disease.
Things went well for the first couple of weeks. During his third week, however, temptation once again stuck out its ugly head. My friend picked up his Bible and began pouring over it, praying incessantly to his Heavenly Father, and he discovered that as long as he made God his reality, the temptation fled. Victory at last!
During the fourth week, temptation succeeded in making him doubt. He looked it directly in the face, and decided that he would compromise. Instead of embracing the temptation in his normal fashion, he would embrace it through the Internet. Immediately a text popped into his head:
“All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath.” (Eph 2:3 NIV)
He uttered a desperate cry for help: “Lord, I am weak! I cannot do it alone! Help me!” His undying lust didn’t diminish, however, and he rushed over to the computer; but when he tried to turn it on, it wouldn’t boot! No matter what he tried to do, his computer remained completely lifeless.
My friend fell on his face and cried out: “Forgive me Lord! Thank you for granting me victory!” Another text immediately popped into his head:
“No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” (1 Cor 10:13 NIV)
Crying now, he now shouted out: “Thank you Jesus! Thank you!”
My friend’s turmoil is far from over. The weeks ahead will determine if he can withstand the pressures of the flesh and the devil. One fact remains, however: if he continues to make God the only reality in life, he will remain victorious! “Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matt 6:33-34 NIV)
It is so easy for us to focus on our problems and on our sinful nature. In fact, it is deadly easy! However, there is nothing that will rob us of life’s potential faster than focusing on our problems!
Joshua told the people of Israel: “Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve!” (Josh 24:15 NIV) This simple sentence contains guidance for all of our choices.
Because throughout God’s Word we are told that whenever we are facing problems, temptations, challenges, fears, and any of the other difficulties we face, we are to choose God. No matter how insurmountable our struggles may seem, we are to rely on Him, and He will make us victorious!
The difficulty with problems is that as soon we focus on them, we are immediately bullied into defeat! The problems tend to become our sole reality, and instead of focusing on God’s presence, we end up focusing on His absence! The only solution to the vicious repetitive cycle of sin is to choose to make God our sole reality: “The reality, however, is found in Christ.” (Col 2:17b NIV); and “This is the only way we’ll know we’re living truly, living in God’s reality.” (1 John 3:19 The Message)
By disregarding the enticing advances of temptation, and concentrating on the reality of God instead, we will realize that we have Someone out there who can lead us to victory, Someone that was tempted like us, but did not sin. That Someone is Jesus and He hungers to give us victory! “We don’t have a priest who is out of touch with our reality . He’s been through weakness and testing, experienced it all – all but the sin. So let’s walk right up to him and get what he is so ready to give. Take the mercy, accept the help.” (Heb 4:15-16 The Message); and “But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Cor 15:57 NIV)
Friends, if God is not your sole reality, sin will overtake you! Sin will dominate your life! Sin will engulf you with the purpose of destroying you! You will remain empty, and your sin will ensure that you see only its reality-the counterfeit reality that says you are a slave and there’s nothing you can do about it! But this reality is a lie: “They’ve refused for so long to deal with God that they’ve lost touch not only with God but with reality itself. They can’t think straight anymore. Feeling no pain, they let themselves go in sexual obsession, addicted to every sort of perversion.” (Eph 4:18-19 The Message)
If you take your stand today and choose Jesus, you will be victorious. You will discover that weakness is made strong by making God your only reality: “I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak , then I am strong.” (2 Cor 12:10 NIV)
Who or what is your reality in life?
(To access the entire “Filling the Void” devotional series, please click here.)