For, although I lack skill in anything, yet I have tried to do whatever I could to safeguard myself in my dealings, even with the Christian brethren and with virgins of Christ and with religious women...
- Patrick, Confession (British, 5th century)
For in vain is a net spread in the sight of any bird...
- Proverbs 1.17
It is certain that we will not make progress in the life of faith, nor be fruitful in serving the Lord, as long as we maintain a cavalier attitude toward sin.
Sin breaks fellowship with God and cuts the line of communication that exists between us (Ps. 66.18; Is. 59.1, 2). If we deny that we sometimes fall into sin, we make God a liar and deceive ourselves (1 Jn. 1.8, 10). Sin dulls our conscience, corrupts our affections, and hijacks our minds, leading us to justify our actions as not that big a deal.
And all this robs us of the joy of our salvation and thwarts fruitful service in the Kingdom of God.
Patrick understood about sin. He'd been there, done that. When he took up his mission to Ireland, he made a point of being able to recognize where temptation to sin might be lurking, and to protect himselfl against it. Dealing with sin is much easier and more effective if we do so before we sin. The key to this is recognizing temptation. If we see the snare lying in the path, we'll be much less likely to stumble into it.
This seems basic, I know. But dealing with temptation, so that we recognize it for what it is, deny the devil his wishes, find the way of escape, and grow through temptation into greater sanctification, rather that fall through it into sin - dealing with temptation is absolutely essential for making progress along the road of maturity toward the upward prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
Do you know how to deal with temptation? Resist the devil? Put on the full armor of God and stand firm? If you don't, or if you're not sure, then how will you prevail in the day of testing?
In the course, Spiritual Maturity 1: Revival, we explain the importance of having a clear spiritual vision, nurtured and sustained by careful spiritual disciplines, which create in us an aptitude to act according to true and loving spiritual practices. These three aspect of the life of faith are inseparable. Taken together, and cultivated continuously, they lead to daily revival in the Lord. And this is the key to recognizing and resisting temptation.
Patrick did not possess any extraordinary skills. He was largely unschooled and frequently referred to himself as "rustic."
But he was deeply spiritual, devoted to knowing and serving the Lord, and adept at recognizing temptation and dealing with it effectively. Unskilled and unschooled, he was nevertheless a man of deep spiritual maturity, and it pleased God to use him mightily, both in his generation and beyond.
What might God do if we, like Patrick, simply made ourselves ready and available?
T. M. Moore, Principal