What I am sharing with you today was provoked by some recent-mails, regular mail, and conversations I’ve had with people. The common thread was a concern about being Christian and yet being worldly. One friend wrote me about a Christian rock concert she went to where the dancing and body language was very suggestive. Now, before you put this down, hear me out. I am not against good contemporary music. As long as the music brings glory to Jesus Christ I am okay with it.
The concern I’ve heard voiced is this. Why does the church feel like it has to compromise it’s standards, morals and values to bring people in? Brothers and sisters, remember we are in the world but not of it. In 2 Corinthians 6:16-18 it says, “16 And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: "I will dwell in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they shall be My people. 17 Therefore "Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you. 18 "I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty."
Let’s look at some of the traps the devil tries to use against us to draw us into worldly living. They are found in the following scripture. “16 For all that is in the world-- the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life-- is not of the Father but is of the world. 17 And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.” I John 2:16-17 - Here are three main areas of temptation that we face. Some of the things that we’re tempted by aren’t always what I call “the big bad evils”.
The lust of the flesh - preys on our physical appetites.
The lust of the flesh is what led to the fall of Adam and Eve to fall. Satan stirred Eve’s interest by making the fruit appealing to her. (Genesis 3:1) So an example of something that is a lust of the flesh could be over-eating. (Remember, we’re not just looking at the “big sins” here. As Christians, the devil won’t draw us away with things that are obviously wrong.
Back to Eve... We know the story how Satan twisted the will of God to confuse Eve. He will often try to do the same with us. Look at what 2 Corinthians 11:14 says, “And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light.” He will make something appear to be real desirous to us and he will attempt to twist the word of God in our lives. The lust of the flesh draws us away from the will of God. It’s choosing our will over his will.
The lust of the eyes - appeals to self-interest/preservation.
The lie that the devil tells us here us that we must have a sense of self-preservation, what appears to be” my best interest.” The next lie that Satan told Eve was – “Then the serpent said to the woman, "You will not surely die.” Genesis 3:4 He was twisting the scriptures again. It’s the old argument, “God won’t me make die for doing this.” The death in Genesis 3 was a spiritual death, not a physical death. After they ate the fruit Adam and Eve were still physically alive, but they were now spiritually separated from God and found themselves in need of restoration.
It’s no different today. The lies the devil tells us are things like ”You’re young, just live it up.” Or “I’m not hurting anyone.” Or “I have my rights.” And the list goes on. Reality is that every choice we make not only affects us, it affects those around us. Friend, be strong, don’t follow the crowd. Be willing to make wise choices according to God’s word instead of being worried about what others will think. The devil will make things come up that cause us to think we don’t have time to read the bible, etc. The truth is, we cannot afford to not read the bible for it is the ONLY truth out there.
The pride of life- self-promotion/self-exaltation
This one is obvious; it is about thinking you’re better than others. It’s like the story in Luke 18:10-14 where the Pharisee said: “ 'I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.” He thought that appearing religious made him better than others. There’s no such thing as different levels of sin. Sin is sin whether you kill someone or tell a lie. We need to walk in humility before God. A good definition of humility is “confidence properly placed.” If our confidence is in God, we can be assured that we’re living as he would have us live.
Sometimes pride can cause us to hold on to things that we think are important, or make us better than others, and we think even better than God. Things like position, possessions, intellect, our feelings, job, and family, to mention a few.
In closing, I leave you with one more scripture. “1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” Romans 12:1-2
Next week in part two we will look at how we can escape the traps the devil tries to set for us.