"Greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world." 1 John 4:4
Temptation is an invitation to weakness. Whilst there may be a promise of something good, tasty, pleasurable, behind it hides a dark, gloomy, sinister end. The evil behind it lurks. God tells Cain, "if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it." Gen 4:6. Other translations refer to the beast crouching at the door. Temptation is the beast crouching at the door. Temptation will never promise anything bad or apparently evil. Jesus was tempted in the desert during the 40 days of fast, alone with the elements and the Father. The devil tempted him of kingdom, power and glory. In essence, these are not bad things per se. But they belong to God and to God alone. The devil was trying to trick Jesus that he, the devil, had the ability to grant them.
The psalmist says ""God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble." Psalm 46:1. It's only by taking refuge in Him that we are able to conquer temptation. In the Our Father, we say "Lead us not into temptation". This implies that along our way through life, temptation will always be there, but in the prayer, we ask God not to bring us there even, to minimise the chances of temptation gaining control. Remember Cain's beast of anger crouching at the door. God being our refuge means that we can turn to him because our weakness can only be aided under the shadow of His power.
St Paul says that we are given the Spirit of power. "For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline." 2 Timothy 1:7. And they are the virtues that we need to bring facing the demons. At the same time, we have to be conscious that it is He who gives those virtues. They do not emanate from our own nature and capabilities. They are given and handed over to us. It is the memory, the remembering of the power of God that sustains our ability to master the beast crouching at the door.
"Listen to me, all you in distant lands! Pay attention, you who are far away!" Isaiah 49:1. This has taken a new meaning for me. In the distance, I have to listen and be conscious. This distance is perceived by us, not real. God is always near. We draw away because we do not pay attention. The secret is in being conscous of God. It is in turning our attention away from the invitation to weakness and turning our attention to the God of power. So should it be with all our difficulties, problems, which are technically all invitations to weakness. But sometimes we push the pause button on our consciousness of God. The more we do this, the more He seems to be far away. Until He seems to be so far away that we think He cannot answer our pleas and prayers anymore. He would seem far away that we think, He isn't looking, He isn't caring, He isn't a loving God. But He always cares, He is always there. "The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah." Psalm 46:7. This psalm refers to God as Yahweh Sabaoth, Lord of the armies. In our battles, God will fight for us. We just have to take refuge in him. And that paints to me a picture of little chicks hiding under the warmth of the hen, protected, comfortable, away from harm. Many times in my life I have experienced this, from outright feelings of helplessness during desperate hours, bleak shadows of doubt playing the inner critic that wouldn't stop chattering negativities, tempations presenting themselves as the only options, as hard-to-resist, sale-ends-today type of trick offer.
The beast crouching at the door "desires to have you, but you must master it." Gen 4:6 This means it can be tamed and mastered, a better word would be "subdued". This means that we can rule over it and not give in. But there is a prerequisite of listening to God's voice who said first that you can be the master. We need to know that behind the door is a beast. What we think might be something beautiful is really something ugly and nasty. "God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it." 1 Corinthians 10:13
Don't rely on your strength for you will fail. "Trust in the LORD with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding." Proverbs 3:5. I heard somebody say that he will not sin again. Somebody should pour cold water over his head to get him back to reality. We will always sin, but the true believer will always be pulled back to the arms of God because of His mercy and compassion. This is where true strength is, from His mercy and compassion. In the ways of the world, especially in terms of military might, mercy and compassion can be construed as signs of weakness. Be part of a gang of criminals, and you will find that mercy and compassion has no place there. But these virtues are a demonstration of His power. In His power, he has forgiven us. In His power, he has reconciled us to himself. In His power, we are made Sons and Daughters of the Living God.
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