Updated: Jun 5, 2020
I have to be honest when I think of temptation it is usually associated with something that leads to overt sin, but what if it is merely something that shifts our gaze from focusing on the altogether Lovely One.
It's imperative to consider how temptation presents itself in our lives. I've come to realize the devil isn't wearing a red jumpsuit with a pitchfork making flagrant suggestions. He knows our salvation is sealed, and since hell is no longer an option, the fiery darts are a bit more subtle; his tactics cunning aimed at destroying our testimony, shipwrecking our faith, and or causing a delay in experiencing God's blessings.
As Christians, we know isolation can all harm our journey; however, it has become a little harder to detect, especially when conditions such as sheltering-in-place are conducive for the behavior. Isolation is no stranger to me. Unfortunately, it has been my go-to comfort on many occasions when I feel upset, alone, or rejected. Just as it is reflexive to withdrawal my hand away from the fire, isolation stands at the ready to erect itself when I feel hurt or ignored. I have come to realize isolation is a natural response, and this is precisely why I must rely on Jesus to help me resist it.
I had a conversation with my mother and she said something that bears repeating. When I isolate myself, I stop speaking to others and most importantly myself. I never thought about it in this way but isolation is in some ways selfish hindering believers from being obedient to God by neglecting to use their gifts and talents in their sphere of influence. This is not a statement to condemn but to shed light on the lies from the enemy. The enemy will whisper "you don't make a difference or no one cares", and this is simply not true!
As a matter a fact, as I write I realize what God has placed in our hearts to convey must have a specific purpose or the enemy of our souls would not log such a strong attack in our minds to retreat or abort the mission. God's word carries weight and needs to be spoken into the atmosphere. Psalm 103v20 speaks of His angels "who do his bidding, who obey his word." The angels are waiting for us o speak God's word that they may execute His will in the earth, which gives thought not only what we are speaking but also when we choose not to say especially when instructed by the LORD.
God created us to be in relationship with Him and live in the community of believers who can support and encourage us in the faith. Isolation lifts seemingly protective barriers, which quickly become walls of separation that lead to despair. Isolation can impair our ability to experience God, distancing ourselves from hearing His voice through the people He has strategically chosen to speak into our lives. It is an activity that can become inward-looking where the enemy can speak a condemning narrative, which quickly spirals into depression.
What I'm learning is to resist the urge early and often to focus inwardly by instead looking upward to Christ, and I hope this will be encouraging to you today. Jesus is near to us. He loves and cares deeply for us. He understands the human condition. I remind myself, Jesus was isolated and abandoned on the cross that I would never need to experience distance from God or those filled with the Spirit of God.
Jesus loves us and will help us. Drawing near to Him is the first step in resisting the temptation to isolate (James 4v8). By His Spirit, we are strengthened to walk through impossible situations, including those we might invite for ourselves.
The temptation is a little different for everyone, and I wonder what is tempting you? Is it isolation, or could it be busyness or the racing thoughts of distraction or the stressful thoughts of the unknown? Temptation is sneaky because it doesn't present as something harmful but generally leads to situations, which are dangerous for our spiritual health and well-being.
It's incredibly painful to write about something I continue to walk through but I do this out of obedience that others will be set free. As I close, I want to leave you with this spiritual nugget: I'm grateful Jesus taught us to pray, “And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.”Matthew 6v13. This prayer isn't something we pray once, but rather something we can pray daily to resist the things of this life, setting us free to embrace Christ, who will enable us to walk with an eternal perspective.
Remember, the journey of sanctification is a process, and we are not created to walk in it alone. Lets together receive the Lord's love, grace, comfort, and guidance, drawing closer to Him. And don't forget to reach out to the community of believers who have been enabled by the Spirit to support and encourage you. If you don't feel you have a community there is one here at TheOneThing1, simply leave your name in the comments. I am here to support, encourage, and pray for you!
May God's grace and peace be with you, Amen.