“No one undergoing a trial should say, “I am being tempted by God.” For God is not tempted by evil, and He Himself doesn’t tempt anyone.” (James 1:13 CSB)
There are ways of my past, people from my past, that I have been instructed by the Lord to stay clear of. Once upon a time I had a certain penchant for calling up men from my immediate past, for comfort or an ego boost. This was a hard habit, yet a very necessary one, for me to break. I was convicted a few years ago of this and it was definitely a walk-out I struggled through. God showed me the reasons why it was necessary and I had to agree with him. He showed me that it was part of the harlotry I had been in bondage to, in the form of a soul tie, therefore my being victorious in this area was important for my future; this meant developing even more self-control than I could muster on my own (and I possessed quite a bit). I had to depend on the Lord to show me the way…
Fast forward to today, actually backtrack to Sunday, June 29th… A day I was doing just fine, when out of nowhere, two men from my past contacted me. The irony is in the timing and also who one of them happened to be. I instantly took each situation to the Lord in order to divert temptation of falling back into my old ways. You see, in Part 1 of this series, I talked about something difficult I have been walking through and how God has shown me the beauty through the pain. In the distant past, I would have sought comfort in others, more precisely in attention from men. Praise the Lord, I now identify where TRUE comfort comes from: My Lord and Savior, Christ Jesus.
I am no longer tempted, when hurting, to revert back to a pattern that was more harmful to me than anyone else. Now I turn to prayer and the Word, and my sisters (and maybe a brother) in Christ. However, this does not stop temptation from finding its way to my doorstep. The difference is how I act on it: using discernment enables me to understand the difference between operating in a “worldly” spirit vs. THE Holy Spirit, thus leading me to sound decisions.
In the book of Galatians Chapter 5, verses 19-26, Apostle Paul spells it out for us:
“The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.“
If I were to fall into temptation, which is of my adversary not of God, it would mean that my flesh has not truly been crucified of lusts of the flesh (which comes in the form of things listed above AS WELL as in the form of things or people, the Lord has advised us to abstain from). When we fall into temptation we are not in alignment with God. When we behave in ways which do not resemble or produce Fruit of the Spirit (see above), we are also not operating in the Holy Spirit.
Again, if I had fallen into temptation, I would have been deceived into going against God’s distinct instruction spoken over me and found myself being convicted by the Spirit. Thankfully, after much practice, I have learned to discern what temptation looks, sounds and smells like so my defenses are up at all times. (This is a distinct part of spiritual warfare!) What happened instead, seeing I didn’t fall into the snare the enemy was setting, was that God used these people’s presence to bless and edify me in a way I didn’t even know I needed.
One man asked “if there is a lucky man in my life?” (He had previously stated that he hoped whomever I was in a relationship with knew how lucky he was…) To my heart, this was God’s way of showing me the impact I had made on this person when he was in my midst, often. That the grace and mercy I showed him had been received. This was edifying to me, a person who never seeks to be lifted by others. It was a kind-hearted gift from my savior!
The other man, stated it had been put on his heart to call me that day, and he felt it was of the Spirit. (Mind you, I had long deleted his information from my mobile, or I may not have answered to begin with.) Now, I beg to differ…I’m certain it wasn’t Spirit led, for he always has a motive with me; it’s something he can’t seem to shed. This man, if nothing else to me is a brother in Christ. Therefore, what I believe the enemy intended for malady (affliction), God claimed and turned into good. What came of the conversation, which I entered into in silent prayer and with my armor on, was receiving the needed perspective of some things, through the eyes of a Brother in Christ, and one who knows me and my heart. And, no, he wasn’t telling me what I wanted to hear – he was honest about how I can be perceived, especially to a man struggling in his walk with the Lord. It ended up being a blessing in disguise. (I won’t detail how he then asked me to let him back into my life…)
Hence, from situations I recognize as temptation, yet successfully thwarted, I gained: a bit of edification, knowing that the grace I show to others is impacting, and a needed godly perspective on a situation wherein I would have not asked for it. God not only knows what we need, He delivers it – sometimes it is simply in unexpected, undesired, packages!
Therefore leading me once again to stand firm in knowing, in gratitude:
“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)