I open my journal this morning and the scripture for today is 1 John 2:17. As I look it up in my bible I flip back a page to 1 John 2:15-17 which reads: "Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. As soon as I read this I immediately thought back to a message that my pastor preached some time last year on the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. Here's the thing guys, in order to fight against the tactics of the enemy, we need to be aware of what his tactics are! Otherwise, you will continue to fall into the same traps and fail the same tests over and over again. So let's take a look at these tactics a little closer.
1. The lust of the flesh: The devil loves to tempt you by your physical desires and this is not limited to sexual desires but we're going to get to that. Let's start off with something a little more tame first; say you're supposed to be fasting, what is one of the ways that the devil tries to make you break your fast? He makes you hungry and not just any old hungry but more like hangry, you know that feeling when you're so hungry you become angry. Yes, it seems like your stomach growls a lot louder and it feels emptier than usual when it's time to fast; it never fails! What I love about God though is that for every scenario that we face, there is something in the bible that can show us how to handle it or that shows the consequences if we choose to disobey Him. One of the best examples is when Jesus is tempted by satan in the wilderness. Matthew 4:2-4 tells us that after Jesus had been fasting for 40 days and 40 nights the tempter came to Him and told Jesus that if He was really the Son of God to command the stones to be turned into bread. Now Jesus could've done it, don't get it twisted, but His response was one of the best comebacks to a tactic of the enemy ever: "It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God" (KJV). 100 points for Jesus, -50 for the devil. There's a key principle that Jesus showed in this example that if we could learn to apply it would give us a huge up in fighting against the enemy. That is realizing that just because you can do something that doesn't mean that you should do it. Apostle Paul said it best in 1 Corinthians 10:23, "All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not" (KJV). Jesus could have very well been like hold up, what you mean IF I'm the Son of God? Do you know who I am? I'll show you, forget some biscuits I'm about to turn this whole thing into a buffet while you're trying to play me like you don't know who I am! Our flesh can rise up along with our pride and make us feel like we have to show people who we are and what we can do to prove them wrong or to shut them up. Jesus had a choice to make just as you will always have a choice when you are tempted but you need to make sure you are choosing wisely. Learn to how to tame the beast, aka your flesh, and stop entertaining your ego. This is why it is so important to die to yourself daily. Your flesh will constantly be at war with you trying to convince you to choose the option that will appease it in the moment where God is pulling on your spiritual man to make the choice that will benefit you in the long run. The enemy plays on this very fact because he knows that your flesh has an "I want it now!" mentality and he will do everything in his power to get you to forfeit God's ultimate promise and plans for you by tempting you in this manner.
2. The lust of the eyes: The lust of the flesh and the eyes are very parallel with one another because the longer you look at something the more likely you are going to give into your flesh and do it. There are a number of examples where the enemy has used the lust of the flesh and the eyes to trap people from David with Bathsheba, Samson and Delila, Jesus in the wilderness once again, but I want to focus on Eve in the garden in Genesis. The serpent comes to Eve and says oh hey Eve, what's up girl? You see this tree over here with all this good fruit glistening and what not? Did God really tell you that you couldn't eat of it? Oh God said you would die? Pssh girl you are not going to die, come on and get this good fruit! The key verse is Genesis 3:6 however as it says "The woman was convinced. She saw that the tree was beautiful and its fruit looked delicious..." (NLT). Eve was drawn in by the lust of her own eyes; it looked good to her even though God had instructed Adam to not eat of this fruit and Adam had instructed Eve to not eat of it. She knew the consequences of eating the fruit because she repeated it verbatim to the serpent but the fruit was pleasant to her eyes so she gave in anyways.
Pause: Let me throw this one out for free; we spend way too much time conversing with the enemy. Notice that even when Eve knew what the right thing was to do, after talking to the serpent in the garden he eventually convinced her to disobey God. Stop talking to the devil! The bible says resist the devil and he will flee from you, not sit at the table and play I declare war with him. You sit around long enough talking with him and he will succeed in convincing you to disobey God. Ya'll have absolutely nothing to talk about so shut it down. And now we will resume our regularly scheduled reading.
I'm sure you're thinking, it's going to take a whole lot more than a piece of fruit to tempt me to disobey God! Guess what, the enemy realizes that too. Just as the world has evolved, the enemy evolves with it and learns new ways to distract people from God. Think about the things that you see on a daily basis. The movies you watch, the tv shows you look at, and even the people that you look at. The thing about sin is that it always appears to be something that seems so harmless and appears that it would not have a huge impact on you....initially. It never seems like a big deal starting off and it's so easy to think that what you see could never impact you or lead you astray from God...initially. Don't you realize that's a tactic of the enemy! He wants you to believe these lies. That's his game plan, to convince you that a little bit of this or a little bit of that will never draw you away from God. Think about it, who would've thought a piece of fruit would bring sin into the world? We rag on Eve for all the problems she created but the truth is if it wasn't her it would've been someone else! The reason why the things that we see is such an important factor is because we don't realize how desensitized to sin we become based off of the things that we look at. Especially in the media, there are so many things that completely go against the word of God but it's portrayed in a way that makes you feel connected with this person that is completely dishonoring God. You're rooting for these people who are glorifying sin and you think that it's no big deal because this is just on tv, this isn't real life, I can separate the two. Hmh...this is starting to sound just like the conversation in the garden. Compromising begins, justifying your actions begins, questioning does God really have a problem with me watching this? We have to acknowledge this tactic of the enemy because it is one of the biggest ways that the enemy is going after this generation of people that are being raised up in the world of technology.
Okay, let's get into the big topic here, SEX. Sex is one of the biggest sins that plague Christians yet we are so tight lipped in talking about it! Let's be clear, sex is not the problem; God created sex and He created it to be good BUT in the proper context which is marriage. No if's, and's, or but's about it so if you aren't married you aren't doing it right (insert creepy winky face). Listen, whether you're single or not the enemy will always try to use the lust of the flesh and the eyes to tempt you when it comes to people. That lust/sex demon is nothing to play with and you need to recognize that tactic ASAP! We can be so quick to throw boundaries and wisdom out the window when we meet someone that we believe has potential and we can end up messing ourselves up as we end up in compromising positions. Singles, as you're making your list of things that you want your spouse to be and you're praying to God about it know that the enemy also hears that prayer and knows the desires of your heart. Ladies the devil will send you a man who is so fine hunty from head to toe and is pleasant to the eye and will leave you busted, disgusted, and with a soul tie. Men, women can be some of the deadliest traps for Christian men; she will look good, her hair will be laid the way you like it, her legs will strut down the aisle so gracefully to the altar, and she'll smell so good and she will leave you broke, busted, disgusted, and questioning your salvation.
I don't know a better way to say this so I'm just going to say it...the enemy knows what turns you on. Don't look at me like that, you know what I'm talking about! Just yesterday I was at a cookout watching tv and a target commercial came on with Trey Songz and anybody that knows me knows that I had quite the thing for Mr. Songz. I'm not even going to lie, I saw the commercial and thought God that man is still fine! Then I quickly texted my BFF and said get thee behind me satan cause ain't nobody got time for a lust demon this summer. The enemy will give you ample amount of opportunities to put yourself in compromising situations that will make your flesh feel good. You have a choice that you have to make; feed your flesh or honor God with your body. You'll always have a choice; we have to get this folks! You, yes you, will always have a choice and you will always have a way out of temptation and it will always be up to you to take the way out! (1 Corinthians 10:13). One of the funniest yet true statements that I remember hearing Heather and Cornelius Lindsey say is you know the equipment works. You don't have to test it out or double check it...you know it works and you know how it works so yeah...stop fooling yourself. Don't put yourself in compromising positions! This whole playing house, cuddling with your clothes on, we share a bed but we don't have sex, all this making out business and what not is for the birds. Let's be real. You aren't kidding anybody but yourself. When you are with a person that you are attracted to...it doesn't take much, okay. It is such a trap to try and push the boundaries to the furthest limit possible with the thought that you'll be able to reel your flesh back in when things go too far. Your flesh is going to try to sucker punch your spiritual man and go full speed to please itself. Don't fool yourself. Instead of focusing on what is the most that you can do physically with your girlfriend/boyfriend and still be saved, focus on what you can do to honor God in your relationship.
3. The pride of life: Lastly, but definitely not least, is the pride of life. The enemy wants to get you so caught up in your own achievements and possessions and get your focus off of God. Let's go back to the wilderness with Jesus for a moment; the devil takes Jesus to the top of a mountain and tells him that all the kingdoms that he sees and the glory of them all can be His if he would bow down and worship him (Matthew 4:8). Now let's go back to the garden, satan also tells Eve that if she would eat of the fruit then she would be like God and have the wisdom of knowing both good and evil (Genesis 3:5). The enemy plays on your desires to want to achieve a certain level of wealth, fame, knowledge, status, etc. and he knows exactly how to get your attention using this method. He will open doors for you that appear to be a great catch and that seem so appealing to your desires but there's always a catch that's tied to it. He always leaves that part out though; he tells Jesus that He can have all the kingdoms knowing that if Jesus were to bow down and worship him that Jesus would have never fulfilled the will of God and people would never have the gift of salvation. Satan tells Eve to eat of the fruit knowing that it will bring sin into the world but he never shares that with her. Be careful what you desire because the enemy will use that very thing to keep you from doing the will that God has for you. He will make you a slave to money, your job, your status, your car, your home, and all these things that you wanted so bad. A lot of people are willing to sacrifice a lot of things to get ahead in the world and to feel as though they have made it and reached success. The enemy recognizes this and he will use it to get you to sacrifice your soul and completely forfeit God's purpose for your life. Don't take the bait.