As young boys, my brother and I used to love playing computer games together. Whether we were gathering resources, building a mighty empire, or commanding armies, it always took courage, perseverance, or problem solving to win. I remember my mother saying: “Enjoy, guys, but no ‘cheat codes’”. These ‘cheat codes’ were short commands, which, when typed in during the game, gave an unearned advantage to a player.
As the game got more and more difficult, or we got cornered during a battle, these shortcuts to achieving the otherwise complicated and time-consuming goals seemed more and more tempting. It wasn’t until decades later that I remembered her words, and thought what an important lesson she’d taught me about my carnal nature.
Since the fall, mankind bears this inclination within to go for ‘the path of least resistance’, as scientists would say. It’s choosing what seems the easiest and most convenient way for me right now, without enquiring of God, or considering others. It’s this self-focused drive for ‘quick fixes’ which doesn’t think about the eternal consequences.
This carnal nature of ours would rather sin then go through suffering. It urges us to hold grudges, instead of confronting someone in love, as God prompts us. It’s always looking for the easy way. It’s the indignation within, when someone else takes the credit for what we’ve done, and the ferocity with which we rise to defend ourselves when we believe we’ve been falsely accused.
The problem is that our way of resolving the trials we go through is often what keeps us from receiving God’s best for us. In comforting ourselves, we refuse the great Comforter; in being so quick to defend ourselves, we leave no room for the Defender. The protective armour we wear of “I’m fine. Don’t come too close”, will keep us from the Healer.
But, in Jesus, we’ve got an open gate to come to the Father whenever we find our fallen nature rising up in the circumstances of life. He’s paid the price, not just so we can be forgiven, but so we can be empowered, or find grace, right then and there, in our time of need, before we give in to sin (Hebrews 4:16). With every battle we win, we’re working out more and more of Christ’s victory for us. We’re ‘partaking in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires’ (2 Peter 1:4).
Maybe it hasn’t gone so well with you lately. But today’s a new day, a new opportunity that God’s given you. Stand your ground in the desert with Jesus, resist the devil, and see if He doesn’t send His angels to help you (Matthew 4:11). Don’t run from tribulations, but make the most of them. Make room for Him, and resist the urge within which wants the easy way, at the cost of stepping out of the Lord’s will.
Prayer: Precious Jesus, I thank You for the example You gave me, as You battled the same nature that’s within me. You were victorious, all the way to the cross. Help me, Lord, to hear Your quiet prompts, which call me to pick up my cross and follow You in my circumstances today. Thank You that You’ve promised to give me all the help I need to stand my ground when temptation comes my way. Amen.
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