Saturday, May 26, 2007

Saturday Special: Pastor Dave Arnold #2


Dante Alighieri, the Italian Florentine poet, who lived from 1264 to 1321, has an allegorical picture of life as a journey in which a man climbed up a winding mountain road. He begins his journey as a young man. After climbing for a short while, a vicious wolf leaped out of the bushes and attempts to rip him to pieces. According to Dante, this was the wolf of lust, of physical passion, and represented the major temptation of a young person. As the man climbed higher, reaching “middle life,” a huge tiger sprang on him. This was the tiger of pride, representing the great temptation of middle age, which is pride of position, reputation and social standing. Finally, as he approached the top, at the time of “old age,” a large, hairy-maned lion came bounding after him. The great temptation of later life, money and financial security, is the lion. As he classified these three great temptations, Dante’s point is that there is no level of life where you will be free from temptation.

It has been correctly observed, “You are not tempted because you are evil. You are tempted because you are human.” Temptation comes to us all, but we can resist if we know the process the devil uses to cause us to yield. There are seven steps to temptation.

1. The ENTRANCE of the thought. This is not a sin. Everyone has thoughts. Satan works from without to within. When Paul spoke of spiritual warfare, he used words such as “strongholds,” “arguments,” “high things,” and “thoughts” that must be dealt with in our mind (see 2 Corinthians 10:3 – 5). Helmut Thielicke, in his sermon series on the Lord’s Prayer, said that the petition, “Lead me not into temptation,” should be more accurately phrased, “Let nothing become a temptation to me.”

2. The ENTERTAINMENT of the thought. This is the first mistake. In 1667, a doctor named Richard Gilpin wrote a book entitled, “Demonologia Sacra,” where he suggested ways to win over temptations. One he listed was, “Put a sudden stop to any possibility of giving in to your temptation.” James 1:14 warns, “But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed.” The words “drawn away” pictures an individual being drawn to temptation by a strong lust within his or her nature. The expression was used to describe wild animals drawn into traps, frequently resulting in death. The word “enticed” pictures a fish being lured by bait dangled before its eyes. Within the bait is a hook that ensnares the fish. One said, “When a man feels sure he is free from temptation, it’s a sure sign he should be on his guard.”

3. The EXAMINATION of the thought. This is when we go over the details. We consider and think about how we would do it. Back in 1998, a local publication in the Tampa Bay, Florida area printed the story of how an English owner of a two-football-fields-long freighter, agreed to pay the 700 natives on an isolated Pacific island about $ 2 million for the damage to a valuable coral reef. The damage was caused when the skipper tried to maneuver out of the ship channel just so he could get a better look at the island’s topless women! J. Wilbur Chapman said, “Temptation is the tempter looking through the keyhole into the room where you are living. Sin is you drawing back the bolt and making it possible for him to enter.”

4. The ENJOYMENT of the thought. This is the bonding to the thought. The Apostle Peter, in 1 Peter 2:11, appealed, “Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul.” “Fleshly lusts” speak of “an immoral desire,” and “war” means “to lead a military expedition, to lead soldiers to war or battle, and to carry on a campaign.” These immoral desires are carrying on a campaign against us. Martin Luther learned that a man was seeking an opportunity to stab the Reformer to death. To avoid it, Luther obtained a portrait of the would-be murderer, so that, wherever he went, he was on his guard against the assassin. Using this fact as an illustration, Luther said, “God knows that there are sins that would destroy us, and He has therefore given us portraits of them in His Word, so that wherever we see them we may say, ‘That is a sin that would stab me; I must beware of that evil thing, and keep out of the way’.”

5. The EXPERIENCING of the thought. This is when we go over the details, and consider and think about how we can do it. Thomas Secker said, “To pray against temptation, and yet rush into occasions, is to thrust your fingers into the fire, and then pray they might not burn.”

6. The EXCUSING of the sin. This is to pass the blame, without taking responsibility for our choices. This is the tendency of the flesh, to blame personal failure on someone else, or on some external circumstance that was beyond control. Remember, it was Adam (the natural father of us all) who shifted the blame for his own moral failure to Eve, rather than taking personal responsibility for his choice. Shifting the blame is as old as the Garden of Eden!

7. The being ENVELOPED by it. Like an enclosed envelope, we allow ourselves to become under bondage. In 1 Peter 5:8, we are admonished, “Be sober, be vigilant, because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” To “be sober” means to “be self-controlled.” “Be vigilant” warns us to “be watchful.” “Devour” speaks of the enemy in his “attempt in some way to swallow you in one gulp.”

Here is a story, in five short chapters, about how the devil knows just how to trip us up, and how the Lord makes a way of escape, if we so choose.

Chapter one. I walked down the street. There was a deep hole in the sidewalk. I am lost. I am helpless. I fall into the hole. It takes forever to find my way out.

Chapter two. I walked down the same street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I pretend that I don’t see it there. Again, I can’t believe I’m in the same place. But it isn’t my fault. It still takes a long time to get out.

Chapter three. I walked down the same street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I see it there. I still fall in. It’s a habit. My eyes are open. It’s my fault. I get out immediately.

Chapter four. I walked down the same street. There is a hole in the sidewalk. I walk around it.

Chapter five. I just choose to walk down a different street.

Let’s be on our guard, for “Opportunity may knock once, but temptation bangs on our front door forever.”

“The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all, Amen.” (2 Corinthians 13:14).

To read more from Dave Arnold, you may order his book, “Discipleship Manual,” at or you may phone at 727 – 868 – 2089.


Anonymous said...

"...everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted."

A couple of Even So's posts this week have rightly warned of the real dangers of dwelling on the Law; but it does have tremendous value. When the acceptance of Law is combined with an honest self-examination (humility), the consequence is always deeper cognizance of our weaknesses- which leads to-

a. a greater vigilance to defend against the snare of sin (by the means mentioned in this post).
b. a greater appreciation for the “grace by which we stand” (Romans 5:2).

Jonathon Edwards said:

" Nothing sets a person so much out of the Devil's reach as humility"

Law & Grace was Jesus' way to teach, & it should be ours too.

Even So... said...

Law and Grace...

Exactly, Steve...

Busted down as to what we are building, so that God in His grace may build us up into Christ's image...

Halfmom said...

wonderful post - especially since sometimes are heads are so full of other notions that we take no thought to where and how we are walking - taking a couple of good falls into the same hole brings to our attention that WE actually had something to do with being in the hole!

Anonymous said...

This is Heavenly Warrior, justing wanting to give a little Testomony to this. I know first hand about falling into that hole over an over again an always wondering why I kept repeating myself. Until I'd had enough, that an the Lord putting me my face, so to speak, to show me how far I had Fallened from (Him). I't took me quite awhile before I decided to go another way to avoid hole and I'm grateful that the Lord did discipline me to bring me back to (Him), cause I don't want to know what would have happened if (He) stepped into my life. I'm very grateful that the Lord wanted me home an to be already (His) people. So I could know that their are others who truly care, love, and are willing to help others no matter what they've done or did in the past. All they are considered about is you and your relationship with the Lord. The better you know Christ the more you want to learn. My deepest Thanks goes out to Even so, His wife, and to all who have helped me an wife to become servants to are Lord Jesus Christ. May Christ continue to bless All of you. Thnx again.

Even So... said...

Blessings and thank you, keep fighting the fight of faith, friend...