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March 8, 2010 / beidson

No Time for Temptation: A Simple Strategy for Killing Sin

I think one of the best ways to get away from sin is to be busy doing good things.  It may sound simplistic, but I think it is biblical. Every idle second is an open door for temptation.  Hard continuous work will keep the door shut.

For instance, consider the Israelites who fooled around at the foot of the mountain while Moses ascended to the top.  They fell into sin quickly and were judged just as quickly.  Consider their sons and daughters, who after entering the Promised Land, became comfortable and lazy and spun into a cyclical pattern of sin, judgment and repentance.  The book of  Proverbs too is abundantly clear that the one who wastes time is a fool, even the one who works hard at devising evil.

It seems that we are tempted to slow down from our labors after we have come through difficult periods in our lives.  Oddly enough, times of difficulty keep us looking forward, perhaps wondering if they will ever end, looking for some sort of light at the end of the tunnel.  But when we come out of the tunnel and are through with our hard labor, it is all too easy to get used to our “frictionless” life.  It is possible to rest the wrong way.  Sabbath is good, but our rest is in Christ, not in a recliner.  We need to work while we rest, or rest may become an occasion for idolatry, as with the Israelites.

Think of Jesus’ hard work of prayer while he fasted for over a month in the dessert.  Can you think of an easier way to have nothing to do than to be alone in the dessert, and yet Jesus fasted and prayed, working hard and spending time in communion with his Father.  And when he had finished fasting and was resting from his labor, he was tempted by Satan.  But he did the hard work of resisting the devil.  He did the hard work of prayer.  He found rest while laboring in fighting off temptation.  He did not sit down on a rock and wait for the angels to come to his side–he pushed through his trial with prayer, even though he must have been exhausted, no doubt.

We are delusional if we believe that rest means worklessness–rest means labor of a different degree.  Though we do need physical rest daily and retreats occasionally, we cannot afford to be still doing nothing.  Be still, right, but be still and know God, that is, know him by continual prayer and sanctification, know him by resisting the devil, know him by not knowing the world, know him by wrestling with him like Jacob.  Temptation will come when we think we deserve a break, so beware–your adversary is prowling around, even while you lay on the couch or read a book by the pool.

A simple strategy for killing sin: don’t be idle.  Rest, yes, but rest while you work.


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