Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Gospel Armor Against Temptation

Just before celebrating the Lord's Supper last month I shared some words that others have asked me to post. The words were these: Those Christ-followers who are covered up with guilt and shame and self-condemnation are most open to giving in to temptation. Conversely, those Christ-followers who are most willing to receive and hope in the wondrous grace of God are most strengthened against temptation.

When we are wrestling with shame and guilt, the pain of the defeat and condemnation is so intense that we'll look for anything that will numb the pain...the narcotics of choice, then, are often the pleasures of the world that we are deceived into believing will get rid of the pain. But that just creates a downward spiral of more guilt and shame and the pain multiplies. Guilty and condemned Christians will always be desperately looking for relief from their pain...and temptation to seek that relief in sin is very alluring.

However, Christians who are convinced of the hope of forgiveness and live in the grace of God are less trapped by feelings of shame and guilt, experience more joy, and are therefore more strengthened in the battle against sin...we still will be tempted by the so-called "pleasures" of the world, but equipped with the peace of forgiveness and the joy of grace, even when we blow it, we will be quick to repent and experience afresh the wonders of God's love...thus entering into the Spirit-filled upward cycle of forgiveness and joy and strength.

There is no one who does not sin...daily...it's what we choose to do with that sin that makes all the difference. If we beat ourselves up and live in self-condemnation...we will be more open to looking for relief from the pain and will be less equipped to fight against temptation. If we acknowledge afresh our need for amazing grace, we'll experience forgiveness and will be gripped again by the love of the Father...and we'll be more equipped to say no to sin and yes to righteousness.

This is why the sacrament of the Lord's Supper is so vital to Christian health...there's no need to beat ourselves up over sin because Christ's Body was broken for us; and there's no need to live with guilt and shame because His blood was shed to grant us full and total forgiveness.

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