How many times have you heard me speak about T.I.S.? At least once or twice, I’m sure. But what am I talking about? Well certainly, the thoughts that our enemy plants in our minds that we are no good and lousy at life. Then those thoughts turn to ideas and suggestions . . . but what am I talking about? Well of course I am talking about temptations. Oh, not Otis Williams, Melvin Franklin, Paul Williams, Eddie Kendricks, and David Ruffin’s Temptations!. Another type of temptation! The temptation we mention in the “Lord’s Prayer.” You know, “Lead us not into temptation . . .” So maybe it would help us to know what we are praying that the Lord would not “lead us into.”
Well, as I see it, a temptation is an invitation or an enticement to commit an immoral act. How about you, does that work? I mean, it does sound simple enough. Right now Satan is “roaming the earth as a roaring lion” trying to devour Christians through powerful enticements toward immorality. No one is immune and the closer you get to your Father, the more Satan will desire to sift you. But notice the Scripture says that he is roaming as a roaring lion, not that he is a roaring lion. That is a significant difference! He is a walking blowhard, a windbag or toothless menace, and that is all.
But here’s the thing, unbelievers, sinners, can’t be tempted — only true children of God can be. Think about it. Rain can’t touch a body already under water, can it? Sinners are already drowned in sin and rebellion and as children of Satan, they do as he dictates. They don’t have to be tempted or enticed because they are already immoral, and already condemned! It is in their nature. As slaves, they are not free to choose. Or as Jude 1:12 says, they simply go from “dead, to twice dead, being plucked up by the roots.” Sinners can be teased by the devil but not tempted. Satan teases his own children into deeper and darker pits of immorality but they are already dead in their trespasses and sins and don’t fight the battles of the living. That’s why our Lord tells us to rejoice when we fall into “diverse temptations.” We are experiencing something that is unique only to maturing Christians.
A temptation is “training under combat conditions.” It is “limited” warfare — God limits it to the point of being “bearable.” He wants combat-seasoned warriors who can testify, “I was under fire! I have been in the battle! The enemy was all around me, shooting at me, trying to kill me, but God showed me how to take it and not be afraid. I am experience now, so the next time I will not fear.”
A temptation isn’t a sign of weakness or a leaning toward the world. As the old saying goes, “You can’t stop a bird from flying over your head, just don’t let it build a nest.” It is Satan’s attempt to draw you away from you Lord. The Spirit led Jesus into the arena of temptation in the wilderness so he could learn the secret of power over all temptation. Actually, God was saying to Jesus, “Son, I have given you the Spirit without measure. I have confirmed you before the world. Now I am going to permit Satan to throw at you every device he has—so you will see how powerless he is—so you will never once fear his dominion—that you can go and preach the kingdom with faith that Satan is defeated—that he cannot touch you in any way.”
I have told this story hundreds of times. So many times, my kids simply walk away . . . but it so illustrates how our struggles go, I have to share it again. I used to smoke, but I quit back in 1983, July 1st, to be exact. I was leading a Bible Study with a group of college students in our home. The Lord instructed me to demonstrate how I prayed. So I began to pray. Then, to my surprise, I rebuked the control that the cigarettes had over me and confessed that I was free from their bondage. I stopped and in my mind, I said, “What are you doing?” That wasn’t something I wanted to deal with at the time. But evidently, it was something the Lord wanted to deal with . . .
Well, that was the easy part. I threw out the pack I had at that time; everybody cheered and I felt a freedom I had never felt before . . . that was exciting. However, when I woke up the next morning . . . boy did I want a cigarette! I drove down to the closest gas station and bought a pack of cigarettes. I walked out of the store and stopped myself. “What are you doing? You are free from these!” I shouted to myself and threw them away. (Now remember, back then they were a buck a pack, so I just threw out a dollar!). I went the rest of the day fine, but at the end of the day, I bought another pack. This time, I actually opened the pack before I stopped myself. The next day I opened that pack and actually took one cigarette out . . . oh my!
All this started on that Thursday night Bible Study. By Saturday morning I had purchased four packs of cigarettes but never smoked a cigarette. Saturday afternoon I was moaning and groaning, wanting a cigarette . . . so my wife sat on my chest and spoke the Word to me. “Nick (I went by Nick in those days), you are free from the enslavement of those cigarettes and in the name of Jesus you will continue to walk free.” She kept going. Forcing me to say (confess) it myself: “Say it! I am free of cigarettes!
I am no longer their slave!” I quietly mumbled, “I am free . . .”
“No, say it! Say it! In the name of Jesus, I am free!” (Hey, woman! Who do you think you are? Me?)
After five or six times I finally said it with conviction. That got me through Saturday.
However, on Sunday morning, I remember as clearly today as if it happened this morning. While I was in the shower, deep in the core of my being I KNEW I was free! I knew that morning as I began to dance and sing praises to the Lord in the shower, I would never have even the desire or thought of smoking again! I was free! And since July 4th, 1983, I never have!
What I learned during all that was that once my bondage was broken it was simply a battle with my flesh. That our Lord has given us control over our bodies, we are not slaves to our flesh, but slaves to our Lord. Is the battle easy? No! But you are already the victor and you can walk free today.
Right now. Where ever you are, say: “In the name of Jesus I curse _______________ (whatever bondage you happen to be under. Smoking? Lemon Pies? Power Aide? Pornography. Whatever you feel under the control of, name it now). I curse you now in the name of Jesus and I will no longer be your slave. The King inside of me is stronger than you and I will no longer follow your demands on my life. I am Free!”
You are now free. Yeah, yeah. I know you don’t feel like you are. But you are now free. From this point on you will have to say no to your flesh. It will still want to exert its control over you, but you are the master of it. Remember, you are a spiritual being, you live in a physical body and you must master it and make it your slave. But like I said above, your flesh is going to continue t roar as a fierce lion, but he is nothing but a toothless Abominable Snow Monster. (Remember that from Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer”? After Cornelius removed his teeth he became a “humble-bumble“). In fact, I want you to follow that link and if you are using Windows, I want you to “right click” on that image and then click on “save image as . . .” Every time you are tempted, look at the picture. That is the monster you are listening to. You are now free.
Along as you are walking on this earth, temptations will come to come to even the saintliest of lives. But now you know the limitation of Satan. You have been exposed to his weakness. Satan is nothing more than a scarecrow. We fear only what we do not understand.
(I send out messages like this each morning in emails, and if you are interested in receiving them, send me your email address and I will add youm—a to the list: Mail List)
I do thank you for your gifts. It is your faithful and continued support that makes these messages possible.