Are we always aware of temptation? Are we always aware of the risks in our everyday world? Or do we just dismiss them as normal, never bothering to be on our guard?
Upon retirement, my husband and I began seeking ways to have more sunshine and warmth during the long months of Canadian winter. This past winter found me going for long morning walks out onto the deserts of the American Southwest.
Unfortunately, it would appear that these same deserts have become trash dumps where you can find anything from automobiles to baby bottles. They have apparently also become home to thousands of homeless….
Neither of these things bothered me, however. I walked around the trash and keep my distance from the homeless… Until that one morning…
As I made my way up a dry canyon, I came upon a huge trash pile. As it was too wide to circumvent, I picked my way through and continued on up the trail. After threading my way through the trash on my way back, however, I heard a noise. Expecting a coyote or some other kind of wild animal, I turned to look; but what I saw caused my heart to race even faster than the thought of a wild animal: A man rose up from a spot on the desert floor, just a few feet from where I had passed! I had inadvertently walked right through the “home” of one of the desert’s many homeless!
I turned and ran, and I vowed to never go up that particular canyon again. But how could I have prevented this? That trash pile looked no different from any of the others I had passed…
Temptation is the same. Oh, we can try and avoid places where temptations abode, but the Bible says, “...the devil…prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8b NLT). Just as I had no idea there was a homeless man living in that trash dump, we often have no idea the devil is stalking us! This is why we are told in the same passage: “Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy…” (1 Peter 5:8b NLT)
In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are all on the alert for potential transmission and infection. Besides social distancing and lockdowns, we wear protective equipment when we have to go out. In addition to avoiding temptation hubs, wouldn’t it be nice if we also had protective equipment against the devil?
But there are no devil-proof masks!
Or are there?
Interestingly, before and after warning us about the sneakiness of the devil, Peter gives us some practical devil-proof protective equipment: “So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor. Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.” (1 Peter 5:6 NLT)
1. Our pride acts as a stepping stone, a stronghold for the devil; and when we humble ourselves before God, we are, in essence, donning a devil-proof mask!
2. The devil also uses our worries as a stronghold to get to us; but when we give all our worries to God, it is like we are donning devil-proof gloves!
Peter also gives us more “protective equipment” vs. 9: “Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your family of believers all over the world is going through the same kind of suffering you are.” 1 Peter 5:9 NLT).
3. Doubt is another of the strongholds the devil can use to get to us; but when we are strong in our faith, we are donning that devil-proof “gown”!
4. The devil also loves to use self-pity against us; but when we remember we aren’t alone, when we turn our minds away from ourselves, we are, in essence, donning that “eye-shield”!
In addition to all this, there is also a HAZMAD suit against the devil! Jesus outlined this that infamous night in the Garden of Gethsemane when He returned from an hour of prayer to find his disciples asleep. His words to them? “Couldn’t you watch with me even one hour? Keep watch and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation. For the spirit is willing, but the body is weak!” (Matt. 26:40b-41 NLT)
5. Notice that Jesus says to watch and pray, “so that you will not give in to temptation”! Our HAZMAD suit is…Prayer! When we DON’T pray for God’s help against temptation, we are much more likely to fall into the devil’s traps when they come our way! And Jesus isn’t calling for reactionary prayer, here, either. He’s calling for preventive prayer!
Is there protective equipment against the traps of the devil? Absolutely! We have the “mask” of humility, the “gloves” of being worry-free, the “gown” of faith, the “eye shield” of selflessness, and we have the HAZMAD suit of prayer!
Let’s all protect ourselves from the raging devil by humbling ourselves, giving our worries to God, being strong in our faith, doing away with self-pity, and, perhaps most importantly, let’s all follow Jesus’ command: “Watch and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation”!
Oh, and I was a lot more careful on my desert walks after that incident…I stayed out of the canyons, in the open desert, and I gave wide berth to any junk piles!
In His love,
Lynona Gordon Chaffart, Speech-Language Pathologist, mother of two, Author — “Aboard God’s Train — A Journey With God Through the Valley of Cancer”, Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, and Scriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, with Answers2Prayer Ministries. Follow Lyn on Twitter @lynchaffart.