There are many paths that can lead us away from God. Let’s reflect this week on some of the ways we can stray from the holy path that gives glory to God and consider three key ingredients that help us to conquer temptation.
Conquering anything requires an ingredient called “desire”; if you want to conquer a bad habit then the struggle begins when we have a true yearning to address a problem. Conquering temptation is no different, except that there is a unique type of desire that’s needed and that desire is called “holy desire”.
Holy desire is a seed of divine love that causes us to long to please God. It is the inspiration that fuels a desire for the holy things of God. Holy desire is a powerful yearning for a sacred relationship with God and all that God offers.
If you don’t feel like your heart is full of desire for the Holy One Jesus Christ, Our Saviour and Living God, then pray for it and God will surely answer you!
When a heart is full of “holy desire” one can say that that person is in love with God.
“I am the LORD your God; consecrate yourselves and be holy, because I am holy.” Leviticus 11:44
Conquering temptation begins when we give ourselves to God in a “consecration” or a “special dedication” that says “Jesus I belong to You! and I Trust in You!” You are God’s precious dwelling place and He longs for you and me and all souls. Let us give ourselves to Jesus and trust in Him to help us to become more and more holy.
If “holy desire” is the first ingredient needed to conquer temptation then the second ingredient we need to conquer temptation is FOCUS and UNDERSTANDING. Nothing important is every accomplished without focus and understanding.
Consider the athlete that wants to train to go to the Olympics. That athlete will be focused on a training regime that his/her coach believes will lead to success. The path will be based on understanding of what type of physical training, practice, nutrition etc. is needed to lead to the highest level of competition. Finally that student will need to make the right CHOICES and some SACRIFICES will likely be needed too.
I believe that GOOD CHOICES and SACRIFICES are the third ingredients that enable us to conquer temptation.
Let’s reflect on some examples.
Consider that you are part of a group of friends that ‘party together’ on a regular basis. Those parties often lead to gluttony (i.e., too much food), drunkenness (too much alcohol) and sexual promiscuity and lust (sex outside of marriage). Now someone may go the party with a view to resist all these temptations, but this party is a ‘dangerous path’ that may lead to temptation and sin. In addition the party itself is not giving glory to God. So if we are truly full of “holy desire” and want to please God and we are focused on doing things that give God glory and we understand that gluttony, drunkenness and sexual promiscuity are sins that offend God, then we are called to make a choice to avoid that party and maybe even reconsider these friendships.
Let’s consider another dangerous path, the path called “money and power”. I remember as I was climbing up the career ladder being called to travel, work on weekends and late at night. This often led to family sacrifices and a poor work/life balance. It’s tempting to think that sacrifices made to earn more income for our families are honorable sacrifices; perhaps sometimes they are and sometimes they are not. Discernment is needed to determine is our focus and are our choices reflecting God’s holy will or do they reflect our greed and desire for power and wealth?
“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” Matthew 6:24
Pray for God’s grace and Jesus will show you the holy way!
Years ago I volunteered for a little while as a distress center counselor. I recall when I told my husband that I was considering taking the training that would allow me to help the depressed and suicidal he said, “you are only going to become depressed yourself if you do this”. Sometimes our loved ones are called to go to places that entail some suffering along the way. I think my husband’s reaction is a common reaction that we get from people when we tell them we want to consider doing something difficult. Our loved ones want to protect us, but the temptation to “go the easy route and avoid suffering” will often cause us to miss out on serving God in difficult ways.
When I considered creating a Spiritual Journey with Jesus on facebook seven years ago I had input from two people. A priest encouraged me to go forward. He said “I feel the Holy Spirit is calling you to do this”. Someone else said “I think it’s a very bad idea!” It’s often tempting to give “negative feedback” too much consideration. No one wants to fail and when people say “nah bad idea” it can fuel fear of failure, fear of risking, fear of suffering etc. Well I listened to the Priest and to my heart and in the last two years the posts on the page facebook.com/jesus.mercy have received over fourteen million likes! So thank you for following this spiritual journey and allowing me to share what God has taught me over the last fifteen years.
If we really want to conquer temptation then I believe we must be ready to scrutinize the way we live and carefully consider all the choices that make up our life. If certain friendships lead persistently to “gossiping” and a compromising of our morals and ethics we need to consider are they the right friendships.
“The righteous choose their friends carefully, but the way of the wicked leads them astray.” Proverbs 12:26
Recall in the Garden of Gethsemane the words of Our Lord Jesus. He said, “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Matthew 26:41
I’ll give you an example of temptation from my own life. I really like ‘white wine’. Red wine that my husband drinks is not a temptation to me, but white wine is a temptation (especially when it’s chilled in the fridge). If I really want to resist the temptation of white wine, the best strategy is not having any in the house. “Lead us not into temptation” means create distance between you and whatever that temptation is.
As human beings it can be tempting to hold a grudge. It can be tempting to keep looking to the past and regretting errors, but that is what Satan wants. It’s not the holy will of God. Jesus wants to help us to forgive one another and to be free from the pain in our past. He wants us to, where possible, find ways to reconcile.
God is calling His people to be His instruments of love and peace in the world. It can be tempting to think “someone else will take care of that problem”, but what if God is calling you to do the very thing you think someone else would be better qualified to do? Jesus is not looking for the “most qualified” person; He is simply looking for “willing people”.
I remember at one point in the Distress Center Counseling Training I was tempted in thinking “I made the wrong choice coming here”. The instructor was preparing us for a very difficult suicide call scenario. The teacher looked at me and said, “Ok you have a caller on the line that is committing suicide by cutting herself, what are you going to do?” I remember thinking “I am going to panic” and those were the very words that came out of my mouth! So the instructor calmly said, “No you are not going to panic. What are you going to do?” We then reviewed as a class the protocol that leads to the engagement of emergency services in a suicide caller scenario.
I tell you the truth, the scenario happened in real life. One night I received a call from a woman who was cutting herself and crying out in pain and I knew I needed to engage emergency services to help her and I did. I didn’t panic and the police were able to intervene and bring a suicidal woman to hospital.
Don’t let the negative voice in your head tempt you into believing that you can’t do something you think God is calling you to do! That negative voice or negative person is part of the devil’s plan to keep you from taking risks to honor God.
“Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.” John 14:14
Jesus is counting on us to step up and be the disciples He wants us to be. That means we must conquer temptation and remain close to Him for guidance and grace. It’s tempting to feel alone sometimes, but we must believe that Jesus is always with us and He is always listening to our prayers.
I am very concerned about our world right now. Threats of nuclear war from North Korea could lead to World War III. Iran announced this week that “the United States is Iran’s “number one enemy” and Tehran will never succumb to Washington’s pressure over a multinational nuclear deal, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said in a televised speech on Thursday.” Source http://www.reuters.com/article/us-iran-usa/supreme-leader-khamenei-says-u-s-is-irans-number-one-enemy-idUSKBN1D211H
The growing tensions between countries and ongoing threats of war and even nuclear destruction are reasons for serious concern and point to the urgent need for prayer and divine intervention. We must resist the temptation to cater to our own personal wellbeing and consider how we can serve God and fulfill the plans He has for us.
Recall the words of the Virgin Mary when she learned that she was chosen to be the mother of Our Lord Jesus. She said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” Luke 1:38
To fill you with holy desire and a deep tender love for Jesus, I encourage you to join A Peaceful Revolution in the Name of Jesus Christ, a peace movement, that is uniting Christians in prayer and remembrance of the Passion of Christ, every day @ the Time Jesus died for us, 3pm (in our local time zones).
See your Saviour Jesus Christ being crucified for you and me and all souls! Remember Jesus dying on the Cross, an agonizing tortuous death, because He loves you so much! Renew your consecration to Jesus, or make it for the first time and let Jesus embrace you.
If temptation is a dark path that takes us away from God, then fidelity is the course that keeps us united to our beloved Lord. Fall in love with Jesus as you stand at the foot of His Cross and watch how temptation will lose its grip on you. Peace be with you!