Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Protected from Self - Martin Wiles

Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. James 1:14 NLT

On any given day, stress levels can be elevated. 

I work well under pressure, but don’t handle pressure well. When I’m behind on grading assignments I’ve given students, I feel pressured. Or when the internet is acting up. Intermittent downtime means more time is required to do the work I’m required to do—if I can do it at all. Online books can’t be accessed; online exercises can’t be completed. Students have heard me grunt at the computer more than once. 

While I may blame my stress level on the computer, the internet, or the demands of my profession, the source is me. My attitude toward these or other aggravating circumstances swell my stress level. But circumstances or people can only stretch my stress level if I allow them.

The source of any sinful actions or thoughts I choose to commit is identical. James says my biggest problem is me—not others…or even Satan. I am my worst enemy. On the other hand, he isn’t teaching that Satan or his demonic companions are figments of religious imagination. 

I—and every other human—was born with a sinful nature. When I choose to follow Christ, He replaces it with a new nature, but He doesn’t remove the “flesh.” Flesh isn’t a reference to the skin that covers my bones but to the part of me that still wants to act and think the way I did before I met Christ. Satan temps through my flesh, but the flesh is mine. I need protection from me. 

The devil can’t make us do anything. The Spirit who is in believers is greater than the one (Satan) who is in the world. When I feed my flesh and new nature with God things, I lessen the chances I’m going to cause me problems. 

Having God’s Word hidden in our hearts gives us a source to run to when our flesh acts up. Remaining in a constant attitude of prayer reminds us God is always present to give us wisdom and strength to overcome what Satan—or ourselves—is throwing at us. 

Putting on the full armor of God protects us from Satan’s attacks. Tending to our inner selves protects us from ourselves.

Prayer: Father, we ask that You give us an inner desire to obey You rather than the temptations of Satan or the flesh. 

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