The War Against Temptation
In this life, we will never be exempt from temptation. In fact, the older we get, the more we discover that the same old temptations—often in new guises—are right there behind us, biting at our heels and seeking to bring us down. And if that were not bad enough, they’re often joined by a whole batch of new ones!
Yes, temptation is a reality, and it is unavoidable. But why is this the case?
The first reason is that the same grace which reconciles us to God also opposes us to the devil, who, Scripture tells us persuaded us that he was our friend before we came to trust in Christ. When God’s grace makes us His friend instead, it simultaneously makes us enemies of His great enemy. And although the Evil One cannot prevent God from saving His people, he can bring all of his endeavors—namely, temptation—to bear upon us once we have been saved.
Secondly, when we are born again, sin no longer masters us, but it does continue to wage a war against our souls—and temptation is among its greatest weapons. We are tempted by the world: all that is out there that says to us, “If you can obtain this, you will be happy and will enjoy life.” We are also tempted by our flesh. Our old sinful nature—which still lingers in us in this present life, even after we trust in Christ—wages a fierce rearguard battle against our new selves.
Yet as strong as the appeals of the Evil One may be—and they are strong—they do not in themselves have the power to compel us to yield to temptation. The devil has the power to bring the world to us, but he does not have the power to make us sin.
Do not be paralyzed by fear, then, or complacent about the temptations you face. In your war against temptation, you do not need to wonder if you’ll win or lose. God has already declared checkmate, for, as John writes, “he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4). The war is over, and victory is assured. Battles may still go on, but they cannot affect the war’s ultimate conclusion.
What temptations are you currently struggling with or giving in to? Take a moment to name them. And then take comfort in this today: as powerful as those temptations may be, the devil is a defeated foe, and Jesus Christ reigns victorious! His power in you is sufficient to enable you to fight temptation, and His death for you is sufficient for God to forgive you!
Dead to Sin, Alive to God
1What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? 2By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? 3Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.
5For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6We know that our old self1 was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. 7For one who has died has been set free2 from sin. 8Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. 11So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.
12Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. 13Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. 14For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.
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