We Must Respond to Temptation by Immediately Taking it to God in Prayer
It is estimated that global cybercrime will reach $10.5 trillion by 2025, an amount larger than every economy in the world except the US and China.
For example, Los Angeles Unified, the second-largest school district in the US with more than 640,000 students enrolled, was hit with a ransomware attack a few days ago. Such attacks on schools and universities are on the rise.
Cybersecurity threats are also escalating against the US water industry, the US healthcare system, and industrial infrastructure, including electricity grids, oil and gas facilities, and manufacturing plants. Uber Technologies said yesterday that it was investigating a cybersecurity incident that forced the company to shut down several internal communications and engineering systems.
The Justice Department announced charges Wednesday against three Iranian individuals alleged to have launched cyberattacks against the US and global critical infrastructure. The individuals are still at large and believed to be in Iran. The State Department is offering a $10 million reward for information on the three men. The Treasury Department has also announced sanctions against ten individuals and two groups affiliated with the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, alleging that they have carried out ransomware and other cyberattacks since at least 2020.
You and I cannot see a cyberattack, only its effects. Therein lies my point today.
What our daily mantra should be
As I noted yesterday, “secret” sins are one of Satan’s most effective strategies for hindering the advance of God’s kingdom through God’s people. Sins known only to God nonetheless grieve the Spirit who alone can empower us to do eternal good.
Human words cannot transform human hearts. The Spirit alone possesses the power to bring us to repentance and faith (John 16:8) and to make fallen people into God’s new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). It is only the Spirit working through us that can do anything of eternal significance.
Consequently, our daily mantra should be, “Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of hosts” (Zechariah 4:6).
However, Satan knows this fact as well and counters the work of God’s Spirit through God’s people by leveraging three cultural factors:
- We are consumers who have been taught by brilliant marketers that the world exists to meet our needs.
- We are fallen people plagued by the “will to power” to be our own god (Genesis 3:5).
- Unlike the Catholic concept of penance for sins in this lifetime and purgatory for them in the afterlife, evangelical Christians focus on the immediacy of God’s forgiveness and grace when we confess our sins to him (1 John 1:9).
Satan plays to all three factors with “secret” sins we think we can choose to commit and then confess without consequences. No one but God knows, we say to ourselves, and he forgets all he forgives (Isaiah 43:25). But we should remember that Satan is at war with a God he cannot attack directly (Revelation 12:9), so he attacks his children to hurt their Father (1 Peter 5:8). The best way to hurt me is to hurt my kids or my grandkids.
As a result, Satan’s evil character will not allow him to offer us a temptation that does not produce greater evil than the good it promises. There are no exceptions to this rule.
Three facts about "secret" sins
Here are three facts about “secret sins” we should remember:
One: "Secret" sins lead to debilitating "secret" guilt.
When God forgives the sins we confess, Satan then afflicts us with guilt for committing the very sins he tempted us to commit. Guilt is also how we punish ourselves for failures God has forgiven and forgotten. It can be debilitating in our lives, leading to a second factor:
Two: "Secret" sins cause us to feel we are unusable by God.
When we are engaged in “secret” sins, even after we confess them, Satan whispers to us that we are hypocrites if we share our faith with others when we are not fully living up to it ourselves. This is one of the main reasons more Christians do not share the gospel more publicly and persistently. It affects our willingness to serve the kingdom in other ways and steals our joy when we do.
Three: "Secret" sins, even when confessed, cost us reward in heaven.
The Bible promises, “Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him” (James 1:12). Every time we fail the test we forfeit such a crown. God forgives the sins we confess, but the rewards we would have gained for refusing to commit them are lost forever.
What’s the solution?
Satan knows the sins we can resist in our strength and doesn’t waste his time with them. So, we can know that every temptation we face is one we cannot defeat without God’s help. However, part of Satan’s tempting strategy is to entice us to fight temptation in our ability. He drags us into the quicksand an inch at a time until we are in too far to escape.
What is the answer, then, to “secret” sins?
Developing the reflex of responding to temptation immediately by taking it to God in prayer. Such a reflex positions us to be “filled” and empowered by the Spirit in ways we would not have experienced otherwise (Ephesians 5:18). It draws us closer to our holy Father and makes us more usable in his kingdom.
As the Renaissance scholar Erasmus noted, Satan hates nothing so much as for his evil to be used for good.
Here’s the bottom line: Yielding to temptation makes us weaker. Refusing temptation makes us stronger.
Will you be stronger when this day is done than you were when it began?
Publication date: September 16, 2022
Photo courtesy: Thinkstock
The views expressed in this commentary do not necessarily reflect those of Christian Headlines.
For more from the Denison Forum, please visit www.denisonforum.org.
The Daily Article Podcast is Here!