September 2014

Recognizing Temptation’s Opportune Time

“Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Matthew 26:41 ESV

Recently I discovered a great book about resisting temptation, which remarkably is not written from a religious perspective. It is a fascinating read. It provides a very helpful study in understanding the various factors that make people susceptible to and able to resist temptation.

The name of the book is “Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength.” Written by Roy Baumeister and John Tierney it documents findings from voluminous social science and brain research focused on the human ability to exercise willpower, self-control and resist temptation. Truth is truth no matter where one finds it and it is always instructive to see how empirical research confirms and enlightens Biblical truth.

Baumeister cites from his research that the average person spends four hours every day resisting temptation. Wow! That certainly verifies what the Apostle Paul wrote two thousand years ago, that “no temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man.” We all have to admit that temptation is an everyday reality.

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The Mark of an Intercessor

God takes special note of those who share in the grief of His heart for the sinful world around them. As in every generation throughout history, there are many things today that vex the souls of God fearing people, just as they did the righteous soul of Lot in his day. (2 Peter 2:4-9) And all the more now as we are being inundated by an unending flood of evil, the news of which, like a deluge, is coming from every corner of the world, streaming day and night through multiple forms of media.
Ezekiel, while in captivity in Babylon, is visited by God and taken in the Spirit to the temple in Jerusalem. There he is shown among other things, God’s preparation to bring judgment on the city. He sees six men appear, each with a deadly weapon in their hands and he sees with them a man clothed in linen with a writing kit at his side. Then he hears God call to the linen clad man and instruct to him to “walk through the streets of Jerusalem and put a mark on the foreheads of all who weep and sigh because of the detestable sins being committed in their city.” In startling succession the next two verses contain the instructions given to six other men. They are told to “Follow him through the city and kill, without showing pity or compassion . . . but do not touch anyone who has the mark.” (Ezekiel 9:5-6 NIV)
What caused God to mark these people for mercy rather than for judgment? We are told that they were weeping and sighing because of the sinfulness of the city.

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