Tuesday, September 29, 2009

What's Your Bathsheba? (Taking Temptation Seriously)

How Can We Take Temptation Seriously?
My good friend and workmate, Jim, was a handsome married Christian man. We lived near each other, often car-pooled to work, and eventually became co-leaders of a lunchtime Bible study.

One day, Jim began coming up with excuses not to attend Bible study or ride to work together. At first I thought, is it my imagination, or is he avoiding me? But my fears were confirmed when
I saw him turn corners to keep from meeting me in the hallways.

After several weeks, I confronted Jim at his desk.

“You’ve been trying hard to stay away from me. Have I done something wrong?”

Jim took a deep breath. “No, it’s what I haven’t wanted you to do,” he said. What he told me next was pretty surprising.

“I’ve been seeing someone. Someone from here in the office. She started paying a lot of attention to me and, well, I let something happen. I…I didn’t want you to know because I knew you’d try to stop me from doing it.”

“Well, you’re right there,” I said, knowing that Jim was aware of my own similar situation some years prior, which would have ruined my marriage if someone hadn’t helped me recognize the danger signs in time. Had Jim told me about his attraction to this woman, I would have done everything possible to convince him not to give in to temptation.

Jim and I prayed for him to avoid further encounters with the woman, but it was too late. He was deep into feelings which had become irresistible. Soon, he left his wife, their beautiful new house and all their future plans, and moved in with the other woman. It lasted only a few months. He ended up living in a one-bedroom apartment with his personal life in shambles.

Jim’s situation reminded me of 2 Samuel 11 and 12, the story of King David and Bathsheba. First, David sees Bathsheba, a married woman. Then, being accountable to no one, he makes the conquest. From there he wants more; it leads to many kinds of sin—even murder— and he pays for it.

How can we take temptation seriously before it’s too late? Not just sexual temptation but every sort? If sinning was hard, nobody would do it! One of my favorite Bible teachers often says we must “frisk our thoughts” – take every thought captive, like in 2 Corinthians 10:5:
"We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ"

Jim had gotten to the point where he didn’t want to read what the Bible had to say about temptation, or to be held accountable by going to a friend. He let the first glance get past the thought and into action.

Of course, as with King David, God eventually restored Jim. But one of the best ways to avoid falling into temptation is to tell someone— a friend or counselor perhaps. Make yourself accountable. Then, stay in God’s word and pray. These things combined will take away the devil’s opportunity to step in, and can suck the temptation right out of you like a vacuum. Take it from Jim and me…it will feel much better than the possible end result of your uncaptivated thoughts.

This devotion first appeared here at The Underground Online Christian Magazine. Check out the Underground at www.theundergroundsite.com.


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