We were running late Sunday morning when husband let me out in front of the sanctuary. I noticed a disheveled woman sitting on a bench near the fountain and heard that urging in my heart, “Go talk to her. Invite her to come inside with you.”
But my mind squirmed. We’re late. I had to find a seat so my husband could help with the offering, so I headed for the door.
I exchanged pleasantries with the greeter and rushed inside. But the Spirit prodded, “You need to talk with this woman.” Shushing the voice, I headed for the escalator, rehearsing all the reasons I couldn’t obey. The choir was already singing the first hymn. I glanced at my watch. How could we have been so late?
Without meaning to, I listened to a lie of the world and put my needs above another’s. Here are 10 temptations we need to be aware of as Christians:
1. It’s all about you.
My worship, my singing, my time with God. But God’s Word shouted, “If you have run with footmen and they have tired you out, then how can you compete with horses? If you fall down in a land of peace, how will you do in the thicket of the Jordan?” (Jeremiah 12:5 NAS).
The realization of the choice I made rushed over me like a tsunami—choosing to rebel against God, rather than obey Him.
I begged forgiveness and promised I would speak with her—but she was gone and disobedience clung to my shoulders like a shroud. Being tempted is not a sin. But arguing with, and choosing my own understanding over God’s instruction is.
2. A little overspending won’t hurt you.
“The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower becomes the lender’s slave” (Proverbs 22:7 NAS).
With a gift card burning a hole in my pocket, and a sale sign in the window of my favorite boutique, I parked the car and promised not to spend a penny over the designated amount.
Until the gimmes took control. The plastic in my wallet crooned, “It’s such a good deal. You’ll never find all this at such a great price again.” And a split-second temptation won, and this borrower became a slave to plastic. Again.
3. Righteousness isn’t as important as it used to be.
“Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people” (Proverbs 14:34 NAS).
Scripture states God never changes, so could righteousness become an obsolete word? Wisdom says it’s not. But Satan still whispers, “Indeed, has God said…” If we buy the deceptive lie there is no absolute truth, how will we have the ability to stand when righteousness becomes a life or death decision?
4. You can say whatever you think.
“And the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell” (James 3:6 NAS).Today we are held captive by the violence of uncontrolled tongues. Tongues set on fire by rulers, powers and spiritual forces of wickedness in heavenly places—from the White House, to the school house, into our homes. But listen to the wisdom of Scripture: “For the churning of milk produces butter, and pressing the nose brings forth blood, so the churning of anger produces strife” (Proverbs 30:31 NAS).Maybe we should learn to shut our mouths, rather than spewing the defiling vomit of anger on those in our path.
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5. It’s a free country; you can do whatever you please.
“There are six things which the Lord hates… Haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that run rapidly to evil, a false witness who utters lies, and one who spreads strife among brothers” (Proverbs 6:17-19 NAS).In plain language, God hates those who think they’re better than others, liars, murderers of innocents, wicked hearts, and strife spreaders. We are all sinners—either saved or lost. We will not be perfected until Jesus transforms us, but the habitual patterns of our life indicate to whom we belong—not your name on a church roll.
Photo credit: ©Thinkstock/Ryan McVay
6. A good job and money provides the happiness you need.
“For the Lord gives wisdom; from His mouth comes knowledge and understanding. He stores up sound wisdom for the upright; He is a shield to those who walk in integrity” (Proverbs 2:6-7 NAS).
The choice is money or integrity, which would you choose? Money vanishes in a heartbeat, but integrity is the substance of who you are and is a gift from God. “Do not be anxious, saying, What shall we eat? Or what shall we drink? Or with what shall we clothe ourselves? But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:31, 33 NAS). God provides for His own people.
7. You can watch a movie or TV without agreeing with the message.
“Finally brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worth of praise, let your mind dwell on these things” (Philippians 4:8 NAS).
The eyes are a window to the heart, and traffic flows both ways. Garbage in. Garbage out!
8. You don’t need to discipline your children.
“Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; but the rod of discipline will drive it far from him” (Proverbs 22:15 NAS).
We’ve all seen the scenario of a screaming child and a stressed out parent who gives the child what they want. But bad behavior at any age is unacceptable “Behold, children are a gift of the Lord; the fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one’s youth” (Psalms 127:3-4 NAS). What are you aiming your children to become?
9. You don’t have to study the Bible to be a Christian.
“Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, handling accurately the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15 NAS).
If your sweetheart wrote you a love letter, would you leave it unopened? The Bible is God’s love letter—His story and your story. A life, death, life story! Reading, studying, and memorizing these words enable the Spirit of God to transform us into the image of Jesus. Without God’s Word in our hearts and lives, we don’t stand a prayer of victory in these evil times. “Whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope” (Romans 15:4 NAS). The first time you picked up a trigonometry book you didn’t understand that either—it took study.
10. Loving others isn’t important.
“By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious; anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor the one who does not love his brother” (1 John 3:10 NAS).
If we took a mug-shot of how God sees us before Jesus’ blood, we would be horrified, and humbled. Jesus said, “Your self-righteousness is like filthy rags.” Disgusting. But He loved us enough to hang on that torturous cross. Ridiculed. Made a public spectacle. Suffered and died for you and me. Jesus was born to die… and so are you and me…that life, death, life amazing plan. Would you deny such marvelous news to anyone? We are created in the image of God. And only through the power of His Spirit in us can we love. That’s why we were created—“To love the Lord our God with all our hearts, and to love our neighbors as ourselves.”
Written by: DiAne Gates illustrates and writes fiction for children and YA, and serious non-fiction for the folks. Her passion is calling the church’s attention to how far we’ve catapulted from God’s order as evidenced by her blog Moving the Ancient Boundaries. DiAne worked as a photographer and writer for the East Texas Youth Rodeo Association magazine, giving birth to her western rodeo adventure series, ROPED, (available on Amazon). The sequel, TWISTED, will be released by Prism in early 2017. She also facilitates GriefShare, an international support ministry for those who’ve lost loved ones.