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Realizing the presence, promise, and power of the Kingdom of God.

Set Yourself

Temptation is a constant feature of life this side of glory.

When faced with innumerable battles against many vices, against the devil, or against the body, it is essential that you be resolute.

  - Anonymous, Rule of Comghall (Irish, 8th century)

I incline my heart to perform your statutes forever, to the end.

  - Psalm 119.112

"When" - that's the key word in our quote. Because in a very real sense, it could just as easily be "since." Because we are faced with temptation every day - from the world, the flesh, and the devil. We can't avoid temptation; but temptation is not sin. The key is to be able to recognize temptation then, fully resolute, to grow through temptation into greater maturity, rather than fall through in into sin.

The place to begin in dealing with temptation is before you are confronted by it, not "when." If you're not ready to deal with temptation when it confronts you, you may not recognize it until it's too late, when you're already two feet on the slippery slope toward sin (Ps. 73.18).

But how shall we accomplish such resolution? First, set you heart to obey the Law of God - first thing every morning, and throughout the day. Commit your affections to the Lord, all your longings, desires, hopes, and aspirations. Make it part of your daily prayer, first thing in the morning and throughout the day, to commit your heart to the Lord, so that you love nothing more than Him.

Then, labor to bring your thinking more completely into line with the mind of Christ (1 Cor. 2.16). For Jesus, sin was unthinkable; it should be for us as well. Alas, we're more like Eve than Jesus. Face with temptation we expose our hearts to the loveliness and delight it suggests, and we rationalize in our thinking that God's Word is not to be taken too literally, you know, and, after all, this could be a good thing (Gen. 3.1-6).

Instead, we need to think like Jesus: Concentrate all your thoughts on the loveliness of God, the majesty and glory of Christ exalted, the blessedness of His holy and righteous and good Law, and the benefits that come from obeying His Word. Set your mind to think like Jesus, and to think only what Jesus would think, and your mind will be ready with your heart "when" temptations arise.

Finally, settle the Word of God in your conscience, so that the teaching of God's Word has priority of place in all your feeling, thinking, and choosing. Increase in your knowledge of and love for God's Word, and you will be more likely "to perform" it when temptation seeks to direct you otherwise.

Temptation is a constant feature of life this side of glory. Sin doesn't have to be. Set your heart to love and obey God's Word, groove your mind with the thinking of the Lord, and load your conscience with the benefits of obedience, and "when" temptations come, you'll be able to find the way of escape through them, so that you will grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.

T. M. Moore, Principal

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T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
Books by T. M. Moore

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