Dreamers of the Day

"All men dream, but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that all was vanity; but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dream with open eyes, and make it possible." -T.E. Lawrence, "The Seven Pillars of Wisdom"

Monday, January 09, 2006

Temptation II

I'm going to try and answer the questions posed in essay form. Let me know if I didn't answer a question.

In regards to the over-spender, yes I believe there is a change that occurs in the abolition of the credit card, but I do not see it as death. I see it as oppression. One is "starving" the root sin by not letting it "express" itself, but it does not die. How do you kill it? Well, ha ha, the entire reason why I am pondering this is because I have not been "successful" at resisting temptation so with great hesitation, I move forward.

Let's take control for example. I hate giving up control of my life and in different situations. I want to know the ending, the beginning and the middle. The area of my life that breeds control does not want to die. However, this control issue is exposed when I am faced with a situation that I am not in control of. I react in different ways from anger, to pride, to lust and denial. I try to get away from this situation of un-control, by controlling my surroundings, my external life. This is the temptation: to escape this point of tension by controlling. Now, I have two options. The first is to control it through denial and running from the pain through various "doing" activities. The second choice is to stop; I can accept the fact that I am not in control, but also go further and accept the fact that I cannot change this brokenness within me. I cannot change myself. I can do nothing about the subject only to accept God's work in my life. This is the death part. In previous situations, I would acknowledge the wrong, but I would not acknowledge, or even ponder the depth of my own depravity. It is when I ponder and admit to my depravity is when I truly see a change in my life. This change does not happen immediately externally, but it is gradual because something is being re-born within me.

Yes, I would agree to the fact that the Bible teaches us to flee temptation, but I have realized I assume quickly the meaning of theses words--especially "flee" and "temptation." We can discuss all the different temptations that are out there, but I am shooting for the moon and want to nail down the entire subject as a whole. "Temptation" can refer to a specific temptation or the entire subject as a whole. Only the subject of the passage will determine the definition of the word. I do not think Jesus going into the desert is related to battling temptation. Like a person who teaches that all Christians should be carpenters or Israelites because Jesus was, I believe this would fall under the same situation. I would venture to say that we do not know why He was lead into the desert because no one knows what happened to Him until the end of the time. Now, what I will say is that His reaction to the tempter is very helpful. Everything that the tempter tempted Him with was external, but he was trying to get Jesus' internal to change. In other words, temptation has nothing to do with the external first, but the internal.

Take a commercial for hamburgers for example. The marketing professional does not create an ad that lists all the ingredients of the hamburger and end with that. They know better. What takes place is a connection with the viewer's weakness, because the marketing professionals know humans are weak (especially Americans when it comes to food). The time of day is even chosen because the lack of discipline will be greater around dinner time. Capitalism can tend to feed off of weaknesses through temptation. Maslow’s “Hierarchy of Need” is a great example of external conditions. That is exactly what the tempter was doing with Jesus. He was trying to see if He truly was who He was. Because Jesus knew who He was, because His food was not from earth, but from heaven (John 4:32), He was able to not allow His flesh to live. Since He had no sin, the external temptation revealed the pure, Holy, internal which manifested itself externally.

In regards to I Corinthians 10:13, yes I am familiar with this verse. I do agree it is talking about "escaping" and "temptation." But, we still have the vagueness of these terms to deal with again. Yet, after pondering this verse for several years now, I think the way of escape is death and then resurrection. The escape is not immediate in that God will give you a way out of fulfilling the temptation. It has happened to me before when the Holy Spirit speaks to me, but I reject it. But that is not an escape from "temptation," using the definition as the entire subject altogether. If the Christian focuses on one individual temptation, the Christian will be "fighting fires" and become defeated because the main problem has not been solved. Temptation reveals what is inside and the human heart is depraved. Therefore, the only way to escape temptation is through death. Even Jesus did not escape temptation until He was gone. He was tempted in the palace while be questioned and beaten. In order for the Son of Man to escape temptation, He had to die--why would Christians have it any other way?

In regards to the basketball free throws, I agree with this method under one condition: that the person shooting the free throws first admit that it is humanly impossible for him to shoot them. In other words, I think the analogy helps the Christian after they realize they must first die. For instance, if we look at the two lives that are battling, the flesh and the spirit, we must first not forget the obvious—they are lives. Therefore, they need sustenance and supplies like any living thing. The Spirit body is fed through a relationship with Christ, communion, assembly of the brethren, reading of scriptures, etc. The flesh is through lying, lustfulness, stealing, etc. We must feed our lives with things that would feed our Spirit. But the original truth must be faced in that our old life must die in order for our new life to live. Therefore, the discipline of the mind as in basketball is very helpful in the life of the Spirit in the believer. But the life of the Spirit cannot fully live, or even begin to life for that matter, unless the death of the flesh is addressed. That is why death is glorious to the Spiritual man, but terrifying to the carnal man.

In regards to the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5:27-30) and the removal of body parts to avoid temptation, I have not had time to ponder this verse as long. However, I will default to Dallas Willard's book, Divine Conspiracy in which he proposes a profound new take on this idea. Dr. Willard thinks Jesus is being sarcastic. If one begins to butcher themselves because the body part causes them to sin, there will be no more life. They will die. It is impossible for anyone not to sin! It is engraved in our body. Thus, the butchering of the body will accelerate the transformation of the believer into the "new body" (whenever that occurs), but still will not rid them of temptation. It will only rid oneself of the ability to sin; the ability to be tempted.

The reason for my focus of this issue is I desire to live a life that is changed. Not a discipline, a religion or an image. In order to do this, it is clear to me that I must deny myself and take up my cross (a form of execution) to follow Him. This denial and execution must take place first before I begin to learn anything new. My flesh wants the easy way out so I will say, "Oh yeah, I did that when I 'accepted' Christ into my life," but that is a lie. The revelation of my salvation is still active. The more I ponder this and follow Christ, the more I see my own depravity and inability to do anything about it. Yet, in this same moment, I cannot express in words the amount of grace I experience and see. I am still perplexed at what has happened to me and I challenge you to examine your own life and see what God has done.

18 Comments:

At 1:46 PM, Blogger Micah & Brad said...

A thought on Dr. Willard's comments on Mt. 5:

I do not think Jesus is being sarcastic here. I think rather that he is using hyperbole. He is exaggerating to show how important it is to flee temptations.

When Brad and I were discussing this, he used the example of lustful thoughts. If he were stuck in a situation at work were there was a woman he was attracted to, and had lustful thoughts about, first off, he should definitely control those thoughts. And, of course, I. Cor 10:13 tells us that he could in fact overcome those thoughts/feelings. But, as his wife :), I would definitely prefer that on TOP of him controlling himself, that he seek out a way to not be around her, even if that means getting a new job.

Paul tells Timothy to "Flee youthful lusts". Also, right after Paul tells us that there is no temptation that can tempt us beyond what we are able to bear, he says in the very next verse to "flee idolatry".

I know my thoughts are not very organized, so I hope you can work with me a little. I am getting to where I have limited time on the computer these days :)

 
At 1:47 PM, Blogger Micah & Brad said...

Also, thank you for your comment on my blog :). That totally made my day!

 
At 9:47 AM, Blogger Jen said...

Good commentary Jason. It is hard to address the general issue of temptation with all the possibilities and personal situations. There can be many "if, thens or buts".

I did run across a "article" from a very reliable source on the Dallas Home Team blog. Check out the entry for July 27th, 2005. Goes along with the discussion.

As always, you have us thinking and looking at the heart of the matter

 
At 9:51 AM, Blogger Creth said...

WOW

Jen, look at your searching the archives of the DHT blog!

 
At 11:08 AM, Blogger Jen said...

I really wasn't searching it

It was purely by accident....

seriously.....

 
At 12:01 PM, Blogger christian said...

Yeah, right. You know you just want to come to Dallas, Jen. It's written all over you (see my blog).

 
At 1:54 PM, Blogger Micah & Brad said...

Wow! that is a GREAT reference, Jen! Good job! And, you are right about the "general" issue of temptation... There are so many different ways to handle so many different temptations.

 
At 2:00 PM, Blogger Jason Mayes said...

Why are we supposed to flee temptation?

 
At 11:27 AM, Blogger Micah & Brad said...

To avoid the devil 1 Pet 5:8

 
At 12:46 PM, Blogger Creth said...

HEY

did you know that your sister is now a GMAILER!!!

 
At 11:37 AM, Blogger Micah & Brad said...

Thanks for the hugest smile ever, Jason! You are great!!! Next time you and Kathryn have a heart to heart, would you tell her to start taking better naps :o)?

Okay, was that not the saddest, saddest, saddest PLAYED game EVER in the history of the NFL?????

 
At 11:55 AM, Blogger Creth said...

yes, I found my way through the first chapter as my father before me did so many years ago...

I just hope that I finish the book!

 
At 12:17 PM, Blogger Creth said...

well... I have a small team of writers behind me

(wait, that's obvious, if I'm not writing then there must be a writer... and if there is a 'by line' then there must be multiple writers. and I don't know all of their physical statures... they could be a team of large writers... and who's to say that they are 'behind me' ...I mean, most of them have already reached the end of time, so aren't they ahead of me? or are they actually in the position of merely existing)

(merely, I'm a jerk for using such a small term...)

seriously, I praise the Lord that I have so many witnesses from which to hear of His glory

 
At 6:56 AM, Blogger Emily said...

Jason! A marathon in NYC would be perfect! They route is great--a portion of it through Central Park.

And, Central Park in November is SO lovely.

If you go to NYC to run, I will definitely go support your efforts (whether or not I'm still residing there at the time...)

Thanks for the encouragement. I'll keep you posted.

 
At 12:09 PM, Blogger Jen said...

Are you really going to run the NY?? That would be AWESOME!!! I would "sacrifice" and come watch you!!

Can we go to Florida NOW? I am ready for warm weather right now...

36 days and counting....CAN'T WAIT!!!

Oh and did you get a hold of G&G?

 
At 1:08 PM, Blogger Micah & Brad said...

HAHAHAHAHA!!!! I just looked back and saw your comment about my "girly hands". That's hilarious!

 
At 2:50 PM, Blogger Emily said...

This is interesting.

I think we should discuss it more on a road trip.

Say Colorado?

 
At 7:25 PM, Blogger Micah & Brad said...

Kathryn said she sensed some sarcasm in your voice, and she wanted me to tell you that she really is hot!!! She said she knows she looks like her Dad right now, but that she is starting to grow out of it... more and more every day!!! ;o)

 

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