Margin notes: Special Series – Waging war against indwelling sin #6

liarOne of the most useful tools put at our disposal in God’s Word for aiding us in the battle against indwelling sin – is the unmasking of Temptation’s tactics in Proverbs 7.

So much of this battle is rooted in argumentation. Our lusts and desires raise arguments for why they ought to be left alone, and indulged when they cry out. We need to understand how seductive and calculating Temptation is. The wisdom of thinking and contemplating regularly, soberly and accurately about Temptation cannot be overstated.

The battle is in the mind. The more right thinking the Believer can get, the more truth we can have at our disposal, the less likely we are to be deceived – even by ourselves. If we are not informed, watching and prepared, we will be sitting ducks.

“Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, “Sit here, while I go over there and pray.” And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me.” And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” And he came to the disciples and found them sleeping. And he said to Peter, “So, could you not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”” (Matthew 26:36-41, ESV)

The personification of Temptation as a woman in this passage is not an accident. Proverbs is a book full of wisdom primarily from a Dad to his sons. So he speaks in language sons identify with. But women too can couch these same matters in terms of that which is most seductive to them – like the the emotional pornography of impure romanticism.

Let’s unpack the first of the key concepts in Proverbs 7:6-27.

First we note that if one is observant, we can see this Temptation scheme being played out everywhere around us: “For at the window of my house I have looked out through my lattice,” (Proverbs 7:6, ESV)

Just look around. People everywhere are being tempted all the time. As 1 Cor. 10:13a reminds us – “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man.” And herein is a very powerful counter-attack weapon – reminding ourselves that we are not alone in this struggle. The struggle is common to all and that is one of the reasons we can be assured God remains with us as we struggle.

So many brothers and sisters in Christ are brought under the unbearable weight of thinking that they alone (among Christians) have been tempted this strongly, in this way, for so long, under so many circumstances and failed so often. All of which convinces us to keep it all a secret, to seek no help from others – after all – what WOULD they think? And, to keep it hidden because of the shame, and the fear that there will never be victory. All of these are deceptive lies, manufactured by our own remaining dregs of indwelling sin so that they do not lose control and be denied their expression.

Beloved, hear me – you are not alone. We’ve said it before, but it needs to be said over and over. Otherwise, you will convince yourself of the utter uniqueness of your case, and thus the hopelessness of it – and therefore the sin gets to remain unchallenged.

The Bible is right, and your deceptions are lies.

Why did God bring to Himself in the Gospel in the first place? “even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him.” (Ephesians 1:4, ESV) And He will not be denied.

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