resisting temptation

Facing sexual temptation? Keep this in mind!

“See that no one is sexually immoral, or is godless like Esau, who for a single meal sold his inheritance rights as the oldest son.” Hebrews12:16 (NIV)

The recent demise of the Herman Cain campaign was sobering and painful to behold. Whenever a well respected man’s reputation comes into question, as his did over charges of sexual impropriety, it triggers a gamut of emotion. We hope against hope that it isn’t true. We wonder how in the world such a thing could happen and possibly have been going on for so long without anyone blowing the whistle. We stand in amazement that someone who is so successful and seemingly so intelligent would jeopardize everything they have attained in life, and the promise of a preferred future, in exchange for some momentary sinful pleasure.

But it happens all the time. History is replete going all the way back to the days of Esau, with countless individuals who traded their inheritance for a bowl of porridge. Sadly, the cemeteries of the world have far too many people in them who went to their graves with regret over all the good in life they forfeited in exchange for the evils of sin.

Esau, the first born of Isaac and grandson of Abraham, was slated to receive both the inheritance rights as well as the patriarchal blessing. He was a man’s man, an outdoorsman, a hunter and rough cut man of passion. In his day, he was what might be termed a hunk.

Esau probably would have made a great politician. Strong, passionate, outspoken leader types have a way finding their way into places of influence. But every person considering a run for political office should keep in mind this scriptural advisory: “Be sure your sin will find you out.” (Numbers 32:23 NIV) Anyone who has any skeletons in the closet or hidden sins, be assured, they will eventually be exposed and you can count on the press and media to help. Don’t kid yourself, those who find themselves in the public eye need to keep a strict private eye on their own lives.

Crouching Desire, Hidden Deathtrap

As sons and daughters of Adam, all of us like Cain, are subject to the temptations of sin. But unlike Cain we must learn to master it. God never commands us to do something without also giving us the wherewithal and strength to do it. The victory Jesus Christ won for us through His death, burial and resurrection defeated death, sin and their agent the devil. The devil may come to steal, kill and destroy but Jesus came that we might have a victorious and abundant life. (John 10:10)

Temptation often happens as it did with Cain when we make ourselves vulnerable to it through wrong or selfish choices. As a result we put ourselves in a precarious situation where sin literally crouches at our door waiting to pounce. Cain cut corners with his offering by trying to pass off seconds to God while keeping the first fruits of his crops for himself. His half-hearted and hypocritical worship of God opened the door for jealousy and anger toward his brother, Abel. Abel had offered the best of the fruit of his labors to God, the firstborn from his flock. (Genesis 4:3-5)

In a loving intervention, God warns Cain that he must deal with the sin issues in his heart lest they open the door to its ravages. This warning is echoed in the New Testament writings of Peter. “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8 NIV)

One of the greatest deterrents to sin is stopping to consider the death and destruction it wrecks upon both the sinner and others whom his/her sin affects. That is the essence of the appeal that God was making to Cain. He was saying to Cain, and also by the Holy Spirit is saying to all of us, “Stop a minute and get a grip on your self. Think about the unfolding consequences of this sinful attitude and action if it is allowed to play itself out! You are opening the door to death!”

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