March 28, 2019
“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” James 1:22 (NIV)
Have you ever made a decision you knew deep down wasn’t right, but it seemed completely justifiable in your situation?
Maybe you’ve been lonely in your marriage for a really long time, so it seems understandable that you’d seek companionship from a man who isn’t your husband. Or, you know you need to stick to the budget you and your spouse agreed on, but those boots are just too cute to pass up. Or, you realize what you overheard at work was confidential, but surely it won’t hurt if you just tell one other co-worker.
We justify and rationalize our actions until one day, our reckless choices slam into our lives like a wrecking ball. We forget that sin unleashes consequences that rob us of our peace, diminish our integrity and cause us pain that’s never worth it.
If only we could see from the outset what the choice of sin will do to us. That’s why I wish every temptation had a warning label on it. Then we’d know exactly what we were getting ourselves into.
Our warning label might look like this if we’re tempted to overspend:
“You will begin to look at other people’s lives and see all the shiny new things they have. It will start off as a small seed of jealousy that will grow until you rationalize you deserve those things, too. You will make an extra purchase online and bend the monthly budget just a smidge. But it won’t stop there. Sin and secrecy have ravenous appetites. Before you know it, you’ll be hiding credit card bills from your husband, being dishonest in your relationships, and facing a growing amount of debt. Your seemingly small decisions today will not only affect you, but they’ll ultimately lead to the division and possibly destruction of your family and the peace you took for granted.”
Or maybe we’re tempted to gossip, and our warning label would say this:
“You will convince yourself it’s okay to share one juicy detail about someone with a friend, as long as you follow it up with, ‘But don’t tell anyone.’ Each time you divulge a secret that isn’t yours to tell, you’ll feel a little more accepted by the captive audience. It will feel good to be the one who knows it all. But this house of cards will quickly come crashing down as friends and family lose their trust in you. You will no longer be known as a person of integrity or credibility. Relationships will disintegrate. And the words once whispered by you about others will make their return voyage as you eventually become the one being gossiped about.”
Take a second to think about this. What would the warning label in your life say?
The truth is, those warning labels are already all throughout the Bible. For example, James 1:13‒16, 21‒22 tells us:
“When tempted, no one should say, ‘God is tempting me.’ For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but 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.” …
“Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.
“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.”
But, if my Bible is collecting dust and my conscience is being hushed, then my heart is in danger of being crushed.
That’s not a sing-song rhyme. That’s truth.
Temptation only works if our enemy keeps the consequences hidden from us.
The enemy is thrilled when we don’t open our Bibles. He wants us to think the Bible is too complicated to understand and too difficult to live out. This is nothing more than an evil marketing plan crafted in the depths of hell to sell you something you don’t have to buy.
Your mind was made by God; therefore, your brain is perfectly capable of receiving what it needs to receive from the warning labels God has provided in His Word. And even if your brain doesn’t understand some things, your soul is made by God to respond to Truth. You don’t have to be a scholar. You just have to be created by God. And you are. Therefore, you can receive God’s Word, and His Word will achieve all the wonderful purposes meant for you.
Remember, Satan knows how powerful God’s Word is, and he wants to keep us from it.
Let’s refuse to let him.
Father God, I don’t want to be easily influenced by the enemy’s lies or seduced by his crafty plans. I want to live this life free of his entanglements. Guide me and teach me each day as I sit and read Your Truth, preparing my heart and mind for battle. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Hebrews 4:12, “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” (NIV)
If the enemy can isolate us, he can influence us. But you don’t have to fight through your unanswered questions and tears alone. Learn how to process disappointment with help from Lysa TerKeurst in her newest book, It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way. Order here today.
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REFLECT AND RESPOND:
If your temptations had warning labels, what do you think they would say? Share your thoughts in our comments section.
© 2019 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.
Originally published Thursday, 28 March 2019.