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Girlfriends in God - July 1, 2011

July 1, 2011

The Devil Made Me Do It

Mary Southerland

Today’s Truth
But remember that the temptations that come into your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will keep the temptation from becoming so strong that you can't stand up against it. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you will not give in to it (1 Corinthians 10:13, NLT).

Friend To Friend
I once lived in a small, rural community where cows were familiar neighbors and lost cows a common occurrence. How do cows get lost? The cow starts nibbling on a patch of green grass.  When it finishes, the cow looks ahead to the next patch of green grass and when that patch is eaten, it looks ahead to the next patch of green grass and starts nibbling on that one. The cow then nibbles on a patch of grass right next to a hole in the fence which positions the cow perfectly so it can see the green grass on the other side of the fence. The fence has a hole just big enough for the cow to fit, so on it goes to the next patch of grass. The next thing you know, the cow has nibbled itself into being lost. We often handle temptation the same way. 

While Flip Wilson, a talented comedian and variety show host of the 80’s, is often credited with the origination of that well known and still popular excuse “The devil made me do it,” I think Eve actually beat him to the punch. Temptation really has not changed much since the Garden of Eden days. Like that juicy, red apple, temptation still entices us with delicious sin. We still engage in power struggles with God, we still flirt with the devil and when we get caught, we still try to shift the blame to someone else. 

Temptation is not a test from God but rather a trap from Satan that is baited with seductive snares in every size, shape and appeal. Paul reminds us that we are not alone in our temptation. “But remember that the temptations that come into your life are no different from what others experience.” At first glance, those words are discouraging to me. You see, I need to believe that my temptations are bigger and stronger than the temptations others face because that belief gives me a little “wiggle room” to rationalize away my sin, drawing attention to the exclusivity and enormity of the temptations I face. After all, no one else could possibly understand what it is like to deal with such strong temptations. Paul says, “Get real! Your temptations are no different from the ones everyone else faces – including Jesus.” 

I can’t tell you how much comfort it brings me to know that Jesus understands what it feels like to be tempted in the same way I am tempted. Religious hypocrites taunted Jesus, trying to lure Him into the trap of anger and pride. Jesus understood physical pain as well as the pain of loss.  He wept when His friend Lazarus died, and He cried out on the cross when those nails were driven into His hands. Jesus was lonely and felt abandoned when the disciples fell asleep in the Garden of Gethsemane and was well acquainted with betrayal and ulterior motives. I am certain women threw themselves at Jesus. After all, He was a controversial, powerful and exciting man.  Jesus was also very human. That is the point! Jesus came to earth as a frail, weak and flawed vessel just like you and me. Yet, He was able to withstand temptation and in doing so, offers us His proven strength to withstand the same temptations. 

Jesus is also well acquainted with the cunning seduction of Satan who first came in the form of a snake and at a time and in such a way that neither Eve nor Adam expected. Part of the work that Adam and Eve had to do was to care for and rule over the animals. The serpent was part of their dominion so he used deception and wore a disguise. He still does. 

Life would be so much easier if Satan was obvious but he isn’t. He is subtle and clever as he mixes lies with truth. He never shouts - he whispers. His goal is the total destruction of your life and his opening attack is temptation. We have to remember that temptation is not sin. Eve did not sin when she began her conversation with Satan nor did she sin when she questioned God’s instructions. Eve sinned when she mentally agreed with the lies of the enemy because that mental choice led to an action of disobedience.

A visitor at a fishing dock asked an old fisherman who was sitting there, "If I were to fall into this water, would I drown?" It was a strange way of asking how deep the water was, but the fisherman had a good answer. "No. Falling into the water doesn't drown anybody. It's staying under it that does." Remember … temptation is not sin. It is an invitation to sin. Just say “no.”

Let’s Pray
Father, I come to You asking for the wisdom to recognize temptation when it comes and the strength to resist it. Please forgive me when I give in to temptation and sin. Father, I know You understand every temptation I will face today. I praise You that Satan is a defeated enemy and that through Your strength, I can resist every temptation he brings my way.
In Jesus’ name,

Now It’s Your Turn
Read James 4:7-9. “So let God work His will in you. Yell a loud ‘no’ to the Devil and watch him scamper. Say a quiet ‘yes’ to God and He'll be there in no time. Quit dabbling in sin. Purify your inner life. Quit playing the field. Hit bottom, and cry your eyes out. The fun and games are over. Get serious, really serious. Get down on your knees before the Master; it's the only way you'll get on your feet” (The Message).

Which one of the following steps do you need to take in order to experience victory over temptation? Pray through this list and place a check in front of the ones you are willing to take in your life.

_____ I now surrender to the will of God.
_____ I will tell the Devil “no” when he tempts me to sin.
_____ I will choose to obey God.
_____ I will refuse to flirt with sin.
_____ I will confess the sin in my life.  
_____ I will get serious about resisting temptation and dealing with sin.  

More From The Girlfriends
Temptation is a certainty of life, but God has a plan that will enable us to stand firm in His power and through the power of His Word. Learn five ways to face and deal with temptation in Mary’s E-Book Bible Study, Winning the War with Temptation. Be sure to check out Mary’s weekly Online Bible StudyStress Management 101 that begins July 18! Enroll now and have access to all 2011 lessons. Need a friend? Connect with Mary on Facebookor through email.

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