Christianity 201

November 3, 2014

Would Jesus Have Accountability Software?

You might want to read the article before you answer the question in today’s title. David Baker is a former daily newspaper journalist now working as an Anglican minister in Sussex, England. This article appeared as part of The Rough Guide to Discipleship, a fortnightly devotional series at the website Christian Today. Click the title below to read at source.

Reflection: An ‘A to Z’ (via XXX) of temptation

Jesus was in the wilderness for forty days, tempted by Satan (Mark 1:13)

If you were to come to our house and use one of the computers, you would notice a small, unblinking eye on the toolbar of every screen.

Man at ComputerIt’s the logo of an accountability program – a bit of computer wizardry which sends details to a family friend of any online surfing and individual websites which it regards as dubious. With an adolescent boy and a middle-aged man in the house – not to mention a teenage girl and a woman whose age it would be indiscreet to mention – it seems a wise move for all of us.

There are quite a few of these programs around (two of the most well-known are covenanteyes.com and everaccountable.com) – and across the world large numbers of people have found them greatly valuable in resisting the huge variety of temptation that is on offer just a few clicks away.

One of the many ways Christians should be different is the seriousness with which we regard temptation. For many people these days, temptation is a bit of a laugh about things that are “naughty but nice”. That’s understandable, since much of western culture has largely abandoned concepts of right and wrong in favour of a non-Christian worldview centered on lifestyle choices. Ultimately, we are all consumers who can make any decision we want.

But Jesus takes the idea of temptation very seriously. At the heart of the Lord’s Prayer is that little phrase translated in various ways but most familiar to us as “Lead us not into temptation.” And facing his execution, Jesus tells his friends:

“Watch and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation. The spirit is willing but the body is weak” (Matthew 26:41).

Why is temptation so serious? Because, as one of the Bible’s pithy Proverbs puts it,

“there is a way that seems right to a person, but its end is the way to death” (14:12).

There is such a thing as right and wrong – and persistently embracing the wrong leads to spiritual death. We cannot argue something is appropriate because it feels right or natural to us – it may “seem right” to us as the Proverb suggests, but though made in the image of God, we are fallen people, and not everything within us is of God.

In the New Testament, James gives us a grotesquely memorable visual aid about temptation – a three-verse horror movie, if you pause to imagine it. He writes:

“One is tempted by one’s own desire, being lured and enticed by it; then, when that desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and that sin, when it is fully grown, gives birth to death. Do not be deceived” (James 1:14-16).

It is amazing to think that Jesus was tempted. Elsewhere in the gospel we read that he fought these temptations by using memorized Scripture – an essential weapon in our own spiritual battles too.

Intriguingly, Mark tells us that Jesus was “driven” (v12) – literally “thrown,” as the Greek puts it – into the desert by the Spirit. It was how Jesus’ obedience would be tested. And sometimes we too face all sorts of trials as God seeks to build our spiritual muscles and maturity.

As we battle temptation, it’s good to know that Jesus has been there before us. As one writer puts it, Jesus “has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need,” (Hebrews 4:15-16). In every way? That’s what the man says! So let’s flee to that throne of grace – even now.

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