Jesus does not want to be No. 1 on a list of 10. He came to be No. 1 on a list of one.
We know we have an enemy — the devil — whose mission is to continually tempt us, but we also have another enemy in ourselves.
“Each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters.” — James 1:14-16
So how do we filter our desires to make sure what we are seeking is what God desires for us? How do we captivate God’s desires as our own? It starts with the Word of God. Practicing the spiritual disciplines helps us cultivate a desire for the things of God. Prayer, reading Scripture, fasting, fellowship with other believers — when we engage in these disciplines we’re creating a heart bent toward God. This should be the primary goal for every Christ-follower. He should always be your first love.
What is your most prized possession? It’s not your home, no matter how ornate it is. It’s not your car, no matter how luxurious it is. It’s not even your marriage or children. Your most prized possession is your heart. What you give your heart to exemplifies what your purpose and passion is. Proverbs 4:23 says, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”
It’s not what you let in, but what comes out from your mouth that defiles you. Whatever you allow into your mind and heart will cultivate desires in you which give way to sin. Pay attention to your weaknesses and the unique issues you face — be on the watch! Because once you are drawn in by something, you are allowing that something to enter into the gateway of your spirit, which can lead to enticement.
Sin is always a process, one that James lays out for us. If you do not watch what you let in, you become enticed. Once you’re enticed, desire is conceived. It takes time to let this conception grow within you but soon enough, this desire will give birth to sin. Then if you are not careful, that sin in your life can become a full grown lifestyle leading you away from God.
At any time throughout this growth process you can abort your desire. You can turn away at the first sight of temptation (the best option); you can also turn away at the point of conception, or after sin is birthed. But do not let your sin come to full fruition within you!
You must turn away and turn back to God. For every believer, repentance is a lifestyle — an everyday event. As long as you walk on this earth, it’s going to be hard to resist the temptations around you. But God has fully equipped us and expects us to walk in holiness by the blood of Jesus and the power of His Spirit.
Repentance is a catalyst for our walk with God. See how Jesus teaches us to pray in Matthew 6:9-13:
“This, then, is how you should pray: ‘Our Father in Heaven, hallowed be Your name, Your Kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.’”
Acknowledge God as your Father; praise Him for who He is! Pray for provision, pray for deliverance, pray for His will to be done, repent from your sins, and ask Him to equip you with what you need to follow and obey Him. Make sure you are giving God all glory and power!
Repent. Resist the temptations that come upon you, and turn from your sins. Put to death the evil that surfaces in your life and draw near to the Father. The more you die to yourself, the closer you will be to Jesus.
— LaMorris Crawford, Cincinnati Bengals chaplain