THREE AREAS OF TEMPTATION
THREE AREAS OF TEMPTATIONCopyright Š 2012 Robert B. Thompson. All Rights Reserved
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright Š 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.
There are three areas of temptation that can kill the witness of God. They are "Egypt," "Sodom," and "Jerusalem."
Egypt represents the antichrist spirit of the world.
Sodom represents the lusts of our flesh.
Jerusalem represents self-will in religion.
Let's consider the first areathe antichrist spirit of the world.
The earth and its resources, the world, and they who live therein, are of God. They were created by Him and belong to Him.
However, the spirit of the world is not good. It is evil. It is filled with the antichrist spirit. It is against Christ. Whoever loves the world spirit is the enemy of God.
Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the worldthe cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and doescomes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever. (I John 15-17)
This is why Christians in the United States have such a difficult time trying to serve the Lord. The values of the world are impressed on us continually by the television, the Internet, and the newspapers.
I have lived long enough to understand that most of the information that comes to us each day is a lie. As Jesus said, "Things that are highly esteemed among men are an abomination to God."
Probably the biggest lie of all is the preeminence given to the acquiring of money. As in most cultures, in America we need money for the necessities of life. God has promised that we shall have what we need, if we seek first the Kingdom of God. And so we shall.
Money is the only alien god that Jesus mentioned, saying no man can serve Mammon and God at the same time. Paul said that money is a root of all evil. It is true.
We hardly could find one page of a daily newspaper that did not have something to do with money. I do believe money is the image of Antichrist, the god of the world spirit.
People hoard money because they do not want to have to depend on God. Ordinarily, the more money people have the more alternatives they have. A rich man can choose to take his family on a long vacation. A poor man does not have this alternative. A rich man has the power to do many things that are not possible to someone who is poor.
The poor man has to pray about everything he needs and wants. A rich man does not have to do this. He can buy what he needs and wants. Therefore God has given His Kingdom to the poor.
I am not suggesting that God desires that all of His saints be impoverished. When we are serving God with all our heart, God sees to it that we have what we need. I am speaking rather of the accumulation of wealth, and the use of it to avoid having to depend on God.
Power over people is the goal of the politician. This is part of the antichrist spirit. The current year, 2012, is an election year in the United States. Every kind of lie, crime, villainy, is used to gain political office.
Politicians often present themselves as working on behalf of the people. They are in politics to make a better life for people, they claim. But when we watch their actions we see they are more interested in their position of power than they are in seeking the betterment of mankind.
I have noticed that in the governments of the world there is much sin. This probably is due to Satan's lust for power and worship. I suppose that being president, or prime minister, or some other high office, opens doors to those who attain to such an exalted position.
But when we see how hard the exalted leaders have to work, the worries they experience, the burdens they carry, we gather that there is a lust for power operating. I do not know about you, but I would not desire to wake up in the morning and realize that if I made some stupid move it could cause the lives and welfare of millions of people to suffer.
It is an illusion, a lie. Who could have peace in such a situation! And as for the person's reputation and legacy, I think most people are too busy with their own problems to spend much time thinking about any political leaderpast or present. in fact, there often is a good deal of hatred toward political leaders, and they have to surround themselves with bodyguards for this reason.
If it is creature comforts and luxury that are at issue, many of the high-ranking politicians in America are millionaires and do not need the money that comes from political office. Perhaps they have a desire to shape the destiny of the people they represent. But what if they are in error and actually are causing harm to people? Then they have been pursuing a lie and their life is meaningless----or worse!
Today there is a ruler of a Middle Eastern country who is struggling to maintain power. He is causing thousands of men, women, and children to be wounded, or tortured, or killed in order that he can remain in his office. Is this not satanic wickedness? And yet, such grasping of power at the expense of others is not as rare as we might wish.
Fame, glory, honor, money, power, are highly esteemed by the world. They are not highly esteemed by the Lord. Our life is in God's handsnow, and when we pass into the spirit world. God can give us righteousness, love, peace, and joy; or He can deprive us of these and leave us to exist in a dry place. Or He can send us to torment. How foolish we are if we live in a manner that will not result in our receiving a warm welcome from Christ when we die and enter the spirit world. It would have been better for us never to have been born.
No one is shielded from God's judgment. He or she may or may not escape punishment while alive on the earth. But there is the spirit world to consider as well as the Day of Resurrection. And God has a perfect memory!
The Bible claims that the whole duty of man is to walk humbly with God. Our Lord Jesus lived this way. He possessed righteousness, love, joy, and peace, which are the greatest good any person can attain to. Yet the spirit of antichrist was infuriated that such a person should live on the earth and had Him put to death. So utterly perverse is the world spirit.
The world spirit is a deceiver. Whoever strives to please the world is foolish. The world reflects the personality of Satan. It rewards people momentarily, only to turn on them later and laugh while they are filled with excruciating remorse because of having betrayed honest people.
The wicked may exalt themselves for a brief moment. But soon they are gone from the scenes of earth and are explaining to God why they betrayed those who trusted in them. Then they are led away to the Land of Darkness to live with the memory of what might have been had they been a decent person.
Such is the love of the world, one of the three areas that destroy an individual's ability to bear a true witness of God.
A second area that destroys the testimony is "Sodom," the lusts of the flesh. Sexual lust is one of the most powerful forces operating in the world. This is true of America. The ruins of Pompeii reveal that such lust is nothing new.
God has placed the reproductive urge in people for the purpose of keeping the earth populated. But today I think the urge is far more intense than it was in the beginning. The reason may be that when people filled with lust die and pass into the spirit world, they become demons. Where else did the demons of lust come from that torment us today? They are not fallen angels!
So as time goes by there are an increasing number of demons of lust that fasten on people young and old. I said years ago that the power of temptation is going to increase until even Christians, unless they are filled with Christ, will succumb against their will.
For this reason we pray continually, "Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from the evil one."
I suppose there always has been pornography, but nothing like today. The graphics industry has made it possible for everyone to experience sexual lust. Such exposure to lust is without precedence in history.
Homosexuality and other forms of sexual perversion are making every effort to be regarded as normal. The lesson of Sodom appears to be lost on us. There are people and institutions who are endeavoring to deliver people from homosexual lust. They are up against powerful forces in our culture, even in the government. Let us pray continually that those who are endeavoring to bring decency back into the America culture will be successful.
In some instances, public nudity is seeking more acceptance. Such a parade of naked flesh causes us to appear foolish and silly. Our display is not attractive, in that we are in animal bodies. Also, the Bible regards nakedness as sinful.
There are other lusts that are resident in our flesh. They collectively form our "sinful nature." They must be spirits, and therefore can be cast out. They certainly are not carbon compounds. They are not organic in nature. They are spiritual forces and compulsions.
As we walk in obedience to the Spirit of God, He points out to us these various compulsions. We are to put them to death, by confessing them to Christ; denouncing them as evil; renouncing them, proclaiming with all our strength, as Christ helps us, that we never, never again are going to practice such behavior.
Then we are to press into Christ. The next time we are tempted along the line that we have confessed and renounced, we will discover that we now have the strength to resist the devilstrength we did not have previously.
Some of the forces in our flesh in addition to sexual lust are as follows: hatred, anger, lying, stealing, arrogance, haughtiness, jealousy, witchcraft, a love of preeminence, greed, malice, impatience, harshness, filthy talk, profanity, drunkenness, treachery, loss of self-control.
All of the above are spiritual darkness. They are not of the image of God. In order to serve as God's witness in the last days we have to be set free from each of these.
Such deliverance may appear impossible. However, it is not. The Spirit of God will help us. The sinful forces in our flesh are not endless in number. Christ is the Omega as well as the Alpha. He will finish what He has begun. If you do not believe that Christ is able to set you free from each behavior I have mentioned, and other similar practices, you do not understand the power God has given to Christ.
Christ is completely able to both forgive and deliver you. You did not participate in the forgiveness aspect of the atonement. But you will have to do your part in the deliverance aspect, by confessing and renouncing your sins.
Israel did not have to protect themselves during the first Passover. They did have to sprinkle the blood of the lamb on their door posts. But they had to fight, with the Lord's help, in order to enter and possess their inheritance in the land of promise.
So it is true that Christ took care of the beginning of our salvation. But now that we are seeking to enter the rest of God we have to join with Christ in driving Satan from our own bodies, and then from the remainder of God's creation.
The first area of temptation that can prevent our bearing a true witness of God is involvement in the spirit of the world.
The second area of temptation that can prevent our bearing a true witness of God is found in the several lusts and passions that dwell in our flesh.
The third area of temptation that can prevent our bearing a true witness of God is our self-will.
God created man with a brain and a will of his own. He can use his brain to solve all the problems that confront him; to make every decision with which he is faced.
However, when God presents to man the prospect of becoming a life-giving spirit, man finds that in order to be this new man in the image of Christ he must surrender to God the right and ability to solve his own problems; to make his own decisions.
Throughout history as well as in our own time, people have chosen to employ their own abilities to solve their problems, to make their decisions. When God informs us that we must allow Christ to solve our problems, to make our decisions, we may draw back. This is more than "accepting Christ" as a ticket to Heaven. This is to surrender our very life to another individual!
Is this what God wantsfor us to ask Christ to live in us; think in us; speak in us; act in us?
Please do not interpret me to mean that we are to become an "empty vessel," as some have thought, so that Christ possesses us.
Rather it is a case of our remaining very much alive and continually choosing to have Christ making these decisions. To put it one way, we might say that Christ is standing at the door of our life and knocking. This is true every time we face a problem or decision. The Son of God is standing there waiting to see if we are going to solve the problem using our own resources, or ask Him to guide us to the solution.
Let us say we are deciding whether to go to the store, or to stay home and read. Of course, there might be some urgent reason why we are obligated to do one or the other. In that case we do not look for Christ to make the decision. It was made for us by circumstances beyond our control. Perhaps we have a sick child and have to go out to buy a prescribed medicine.
So we get in our car. We drive to the drugstore. The clerk tells us we can buy 100 pills for ten dollars or 200 pills for fifteen dollars, a saving of five dollars should we eventually need more pills.
We can do one of two things. We can debate within ourselves the possibility that we will probably need more than 100 pills, since the prescription is for eight pills per day.
Or, and this is what I personally do, we can immediately look to the Lord for wisdom. I do not say He always speaks to me, although sometimes He does. But one way or another, He guides me to make the correct decision.
Most of us have many decisions, sometimes major problems, at the present moment or that we foresee in the future. We can rely on our own experience and wisdom, or we can keep committing our problems to God; keep looking to Jesus. In this manner we learn to live by His Life. Just as simple as that!
Living in this manner may or may not be urgently necessary for you today, although it may save you much pain. We often take matters for granted, not realizing that Satan has set a trap for us. If we had asked the Lord about some "trivial" matter we might find that although everything seems simple and straightforward, there really is a hidden danger here.
But I am writing for the day to come in America. Because of our widespread immorality, turning away from our Christian God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, and indulging in every sort of material greed and lusts of the flesh, God is turning away from us. This means terrible trouble in the future.
If we have learned how to live by the will of Christ, instead of our own will, we will be able to thread our way through the minefield of disasters that Satan will put in front of every American, particularly American Christians.
If we waste the present time, trusting in a lawless grace, hoping for an unscriptural "rapture" to deliver us from trouble, we are heading toward great pain and suffering. Please keep in mind that Satan hates America because of our prior Christian testimony.
Today the Spirit of God is showing us how to prepare ourselves for the future. The Bible is the general Word of God. But there is a specific Word of God that comes to each of us each day. We must keep on praying that we can hear that specific Word, because it is our life. We are to live by every Word of God that is addressed to us personally, not just by natural food.
There is to be a revival of unprecedented power before the Lord returns. God' witnesses will proclaim the soon coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth. He is preparing His witnesses today.
Each witness must gain complete victory over the temptation to look to the world for survival, safety, pleasure, and success. Egypt.
Each witness must gain complete victory over the temptation to yield to the burning lusts and passions of the flesh. Sodom.
Each witness must gain complete victory over the temptation to live by his or her own will and ambitions. The wing of the Temple in Jerusalem.
Their bodies will lie in the street of the great city, which is figuratively called Sodom and Egypt, where also their Lord was crucified. (Revelation 11:8)
I have chosen to live by the Life of Jesus rather than by my own life. How about you?