Yesterday we were talking about the safety fence that is ‘thanksgiving’ and today we are looking at one of the times when we most need that fence, and that is when we are under pressure and feeling tempted. Temptation can come in any of three different areas. The most obvious is probably the temptation to ‘do’ something we know to be wrong, that is the easiest one to recognise. Or it could be the temptation to give into our old man and manifest the emotions opposite to those described as ‘the fruit of the Spirit’ in Galatians 5:22. Thirdly the temptation could be to think differently to how the Holy Spirit would have us think, with our renewed mind. This could include thinking negative, unkind, doubting, fearful or angry thoughts. All these different kinds of temptations assault us every day of our lives, and we shouldn’t be surprised at this, but instead be clear that the temptation is not in itself a sin, and that it’s what we do with it that counts.
One of the names of Jesus that we use a little less often than those found in the Gospels, like the Lamb of God and the Light of the World, is the name that we find at the end of the Bible. The apostle John sees heaven open and there on a white horse is a rider called ‘Faithful and True’. Revelation 19:11. This accords with Moses declaration to the Israelites at the beginning of the Bible, “Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; He is the Faithful God, keeping His covenant of love to a thousand generations”. Deuteronomy 7:9. Wherever you look in the Bible you see that testimony of God’s faithfulness to His people. It is who He is and therefore what He does. He does ‘faithfulness’ continually, and all the time.
This is such good news because we, naturally speaking, aren’t so good at faithfulness but our God, we are told, will remain faithful even when we are faithless because ‘He cannot disown Himself’, 2 Timothy 2:13. He is in covenant relationship with us and will ‘never leave us or forsake us’, Hebrews 13:5. Such good news! So back to our ‘thanksgiving fence’ and temptation, well Paul tells us that ‘God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it’. 1 Corinthians 10:13. Now that is what I call a faithful friend and Saviour.
Even more wonderful is that, although God provides a way out for us when we are tempted, should we not take that ‘way out’, the apostle John writes to some early Christians (and us) that if we confess our sin ‘He is faithful and just and will forgive our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness’, even though, he says, ‘I write this to you so that you will not sin’.1 John 1:9 -2:1. So how does thanksgiving work as a fence in these situations? I think that if we can start to give thanks to God for His faithfulness, and that He is with us and will provide that ‘way out’ for us when being tempted, I can practically guarantee that the temptation will lose its power, because our gaze will have been on Jesus and not on the battle.
The enemy will also have beaten a retreat as we make our declaration in giving thanks, that Jesus is on our side. Furthermore, if we also thank Him that even if we should ‘fall’ and stumble i.e. sin, He will be faithful to forgive us as we confess our sin, then I believe we will see the ‘way out’ that our faithful God has promised to provide. ‘The Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen and protect you from the evil one’. 2 Thessalonians 3:3.
Here are some more scriptures that we can use in our thanksgiving in those moments of temptation, they will strengthen the fence and keep us from ‘falling’.
‘He will keep you strong to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God, who has called you into fellowship with His son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful’ 1 Corinthians 1:9.
‘May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful and He will do it’. 1 Thessalonians 5:24
‘Now, to the one with enough power to prevent you from stumbling into sin and bring you faultless before His glorious presence to stand before Him ……….. be glory and majesty now and throughout all the ages of eternity. Amen! Jude 24. (From the Passion Translation).