In the cartoon, “Cathy,” she says to herself, “I won’t go to the store.” Then, “Well, I’ll drive by the store but not go in.” And, “I’ll go in but not near the candy counter.” Followed by, “Ok, I can walk past the candy counter but I won’t buy anything.” And then, “I’ll buy but I won’t eat.” And, finally, “Eat! Eat! Eat!”
It’s never safe to see how close we can get to temptation without giving in to it. We don’t do that with rattle snakes or grizzly bears; don’t do it with the things that have defeated us in the past. Instead, we mount a good defense, staying clear-minded and watchful for any danger. (Scroll down to the previous post for more on that.) However, it’s not enough to simply steer clear of temptation. We also need to be ready with a good offense when temptation does not steer clear of us.
Here’s what Peter wrote about that:
Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. (1 Peter 5:8-9)
While we don’t want to go looking for trouble, when it comes, we do not need to run in fear. Jesus taught:
Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. (John 8:34-36)
After the Civil War, many of the freed slaves were afraid to leave their masters, because they weren’t sure the news of their freedom was really true. If we don’t know for sure that Satan no longer enslaves us, we will likely cave in the face of his temptations. Instead, Peter teaches, “Resist him, firm in your faith.” Call Satan’s bluff: “I don’t have to obey you any more; I’ve been set free by Jesus.”
It also helps to know that we do not struggle alone. When Peter writes, “knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world,” he invites us to consider ourselves members of a team, engaged in a mighty struggle together. If we know we are not alone, that others are wrestling with the same issues as we are, it becomes easier to resist in a courageous way.
There’s more. We don’t have to fight alone. Next time, real, practical help is on the way!