Christianity 201

March 23, 2011

“He Sweat Drops of Blood” – Temptation

Elsie Montgomery is a Canadian, blogging daily since 2006 at Practical Faith.  She also teaches people how to write Bible study materials and devotionals. (She became an instant ‘add’ to our blogroll at right!)  This post is actually from today where it appeared under the title, Resisting Temptation.

In my efforts to lose a few pounds, decisions are necessary. I’ve heard of “mouth-hunger” vs. genuine hunger and a real need to eat. Some call “mouth-hunger” an emotional hunger. Food is comforting and tastes good. The body does not need any more, but the mouth (and emotions) crave that comfort and pleasure.

This morning, I had enough to eat and felt full, but my eyes caught the dinner rolls in the pantry. These happen to be particularly tasty and I wanted one. It was a bit of a battle to walk away, but I did, and within a few minutes the temptation was gone.

The Bible has lots to say about temptation. Its source is not what is going on outside of us (like the dinner rolls) but what is happening on the inside.

Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and He himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death. (James 1:13–15)

Dinner rolls or anything else would have no appeal if I didn’t want something. My desires are the problem; the food I don’t need is merely the bait. Like a fish seeing a worm on a hook, I have a choice to make. If I keep making the wrong choices, I could sinfully overindulge. In the case of food, that would lead to obesity and even death.

Of course I am supposed to resist temptation. Sometimes I don’t. It seems like the desire is too strong, but how silly my wanting an extra dinner roll or a big piece of chocolate cake is compared to the sin that Jesus resisted.

Consider Him who endured from sinners such hostility against Himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. (Hebrews 12:3–4)

Jesus first endured sin committed against Him. Human hostility toward Him was selfish and hateful (and still is). Unlike us when people hurt us, He did not retaliate. He said, “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.”

Second, He resisted the sin of disobeying His Father who sent Him to earth to redeem sinners. This required that He bear our penalty for sin by dying on a cross. Not only was that a terribly painful physical death, His emotional and spiritual agony can scarcely be imagined.

In Gethsemane before it happened, Jesus prayed. He was fighting the temptation to say, “No thanks” rather than bear the guilt and awful weight of every sin ever committed by every person whoever lived. He knew what was coming, but again, He resisted.

And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground. (Luke 22:44)

As He sweat blood, Jesus said, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” (Luke 22:42) He was more willing to do as God wanted rather than take care of His own comfort and give in to the temptation to walk away and leave us to our fate.

*****

Jesus, I’ve read that extreme stress can cause a person to sweat blood. I try to imagine the seriousness of straining against temptation to the point of this happening. My own resistance to something as minor as overeating pales to ridiculousness compared to what You endured in Gethsemane.  What makes my struggle even sillier is that I am doing this mostly for my own good while Your resistance to sin was never about Yourself. You said ‘No’ to the temptations for our sake, for all sinners, for every person whoever lived, for me. At the very least Your sacrifice and Your steadfast resistance to sin ought to motivate greater resolve in me to do the same, not just in the pantry but in every area of my life.

~Elsie Montgomery

June 24, 2010

Re-reading Noah

I spent a number of years attending an Assemblies of God type of church in Canada, where the AG is known as the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada.   It was also the denomination my wife grew up in.

As a result — and don’t ask me why this is — she has a much better handle on parts of the Old Testament than I do.   In the short time I attended a PAOC church in Toronto, most Sunday mornings we opened our Bibles to O. T. texts.

And oh… what great messages they were able to derive from those texts!  (My non-Pentecostal friends might say, “Where did they get that from?”)  If you haven’t been exposed to Pentecostal preaching, there ain’t nothing like it.

I was reminded of that today as I read this post on the blog, Thoughts for Daily Devotions.

“The flood was forty days upon the earth; and the waters increased, and bare up the ark, and it was lift up above the earth” (Gen 7:17).

alignleftWhen Noah obeyed God’s Word and entered into the ark, it gradually lifted him up from the earth. This is amazingly true in our spiritual life also. Our ark is Christ. As we respond to the gospel-call and enter into Christ or as Christ enters into our life, He lifts us up from the earthly sphere to heavenly heights. The higher we rise the smaller the things of the world seem. The things of the earth no longer seem glamorous and attractive. Things which once held us in allure now hold little appeal for us. “The more of heaven we cherish, the less of earth we covet.”

The more the ark was lifted up, the higher Noah went. Similarly, the more we lift up Christ, the more we are lifted up for the glory of God. We become the light of the world, a ‘city set on a hill’; seeing our light, men glorify the father in heaven (Matt 5:14,16).

“The mountains were covered.” As we go higher in our spiritual life, the mountain-like problems that once loomed large before us, disappear from our view. Our life is now a joyful song – a song of worship, praise and adoration.