How to Identify If A Temptation is REALLY Dangerous?

Temptation
Indwelling Sin and Temptation

Temptations Of The Dangerous Kind

A Christian should feel compelled to fight in the good fight against our sin nature. As we pursue holiness, we should be constantly trying to say goodbye to our former self and fight with intensity when temptations come. In fact, Colossians 3:5 says that we should “put to death what is earthly in you.”

“Inveterateness – If it hath lain long corrupting in thy heart, if thou hast suffered it to abide in power and prevalency, without attempting vigorously the killing of it, and the healing of the wounds thou hast received by it, for some long season, thy distemper is dangerous. Hast thou permitted worldliness, ambition, greediness of study, to eat up other duties, the duties wherein thou oughtest to hold constant communion with God, for some long season? or uncleanness to defile thy heart with vain, and foolish, and wicked imaginations for many days? Thy lust hath a dangerous symptom.”

John Owen – The Mortification of Sin

If we are honest with ourselves, this type of language isn’t taken that seriously. What does “putting to death” really look like for us? If we truly want to pursue holiness, the first step is taking action against our sin nature. It’s warfare.

Although we will never truly accomplish complete defeat of our sin nature on this side of Heaven, we should still be aggressively pursuing holiness. As a Christian, we will succeed and we will fail. The lack of seriousness with addressing our sin is typically the father of all fails. It’s just that we don’t treat sin as what it truly is – a cancer to our soul.

There are circumstantial sin that we will fall into – a moment of weakness where a small lie is told, an act of selfishness when we should love our neighbors better, or even the act of greed that kept us from being a better giver. These are sins that fall upon us because of things happening around us or a unique moment we’re in. It’s just our natural sin nature affecting us. Then there are sins that are deeply ingrained in us. There are unique sins that seems to take us captive. For me, it will be a different sin than what ensnares you. We all have at least one. What is yours?

Temptations That Are Deeply Rooted

Those sins that have made their home within us are of the dangerous kind. They are the true pitfall of our person. John Owen in his book, “The Mortification of Sin,” discusses several attributes of dangerous sins and today, we will be looking at just one of those attributes. The word “Inveterate” means that something is firmly established by long persistence or that it is confirmed in a habit (Merriam Webster). Every sinner has at least one sin that is paralyzing – one that is your Achilles heel that seems to have the upper hand in defeating you.

The Winds and Waves of Our Faith

We’ve all had the mountaintop experiences of faith when our walk with the Lord has been at its strongest. And then there are times where we feel dry and unmoved. David echoed both sentiments in his psalms.

“How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!“

Psalm 119:103

“Restore to me the joy of Your salvation And sustain me with a willing spirit.“

Psalm 51:12

We all go through dry seasons and mountaintop experiences. Satan prefers us to stay dry. Fires rage hottest in the driest of places. I would submit to you that Satan uses those dangerous temptations within us to bring us crashing down from our mountaintops and into the dry land below.

“When a lust hath lain long in the heart, corrupting, festering, cankering, it brings the soul to a woful condition. In such a case an ordinary course of humiliation will not do the work: whatever it be, it will by this means insinuate itself more or less into all the faculties of the soul, and habituate the affections to its company and society; it grows familiar to the mind and conscience, that they do not startle at it as a strange thing, but are bold with it as that which they are wonted unto; yea, it will get such advantage by this means as oftentimes to exert and put forth itself without having any notice taken of it at all, as it seems to have been with Joseph in his swearing by the life of Pharaoh. Unless some extraordinary course be taken, such a person hath no ground in the world to expect that his latter end shall be peace.”

John Owen – The Mortification of Sin

This dangerous temptations/sin ingrains itself into our soul and mind so much that it seems to become natural to us. When it rears its ugly head, it will disguise itself enough to make it seem normal to us. Naturally, we won’t see anything wrong. It’s like an old foe that is all too familiar to us. We’re so familiar with it that it doesn’t have much shock value anymore. It’s easy for our enemy to use it against us because it is familiar to us. It’s right there and we’ve hardly noticed it. We weren’t looking for it. It’s like a mountain climber who unknowingly has a parachute slowly opening up as he’s climbing the mountain. It’s opening is slow and subtle. Then a nasty wind comes, catches the parachute, and then rips us off the mountain. We no longer have a grip on the mountain and find ourselves slowly drifting back towards the dry and dirty earth. A place where peace is extinguished.

Staying On The Mountain

The best way to stay on the mountain is to stay alert. The best mountain climbers are ALWAYS aware of their surroundings. They notice every little nuance. Their eyes are open and they never let their guard down.

“Keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

Matthew 26:41

”Be of sober spirit, be on the alert Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”

1 Peter 5:8

Know your dangerous sin and always keep one eye on how it manifests itself in temptations. As soon as you are lulled to sleep by this world, it’s familiarity will find its way sneak upon you and cause your backsliding back down into the valley of your faith.

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