Why Do Christians Struggle With Life’s Temptations?

Deep debt, lavish lifestyles, ill-advised relationships, unwise decisions, foolish talk: These are just a few outgrowths of spiritual heart trouble. And the subject of spiritual health is one that many of my Christian friends don’t want to discuss. But when I am allowed to deal with the true problem, I must undertake the task with some delicacy.

Spiritual heart trouble is every bit as debilitating as physical heart trouble, because it determines the kinds of decisions one makes. One’s true nature—heart—affects all business, career, family, and personal decisions. A healthy spiritual heart usually makes wise decisions, while an unhealthy spiritual heart will often make unwise ones.

First, a healthy spiritual heart, what the Bible calls the “new man,” allows the Holy Spirit free access (see 2 Cor. 5:17). Conversely, an unhealthy spiritual heart follows the worldly nature, or what the Bible calls the “old man,” the sin nature. These two natures are locked in conflict—the worldly nature is self-serving and yielding to temptations; the believers’ redeemed nature is God-serving and capable of overcoming temptations. The spiritual nature desires to bloom and fulfill its need to serve God (see Rom. 7:22). The worldly nature wars against the Spirit to keep it from blooming and instead strives to fulfill its need to serve self (see Rom. 7:23; 1 Peter 2:11). The apostle Paul describes the conflict in his letter to the Romans: “Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace” (Rom.8:5–6).

Spiritual health is a prerequisite to securing a Christian’s advantage in how one lives their life and it can be achieved only when one “puts to death” the worldly (self-centered, sin) nature and yields to the spiritual nature. The first step is to make an all-out commitment to serve Christ and yield to the leading of the Holy Spirit. That does not mean you shall never yield to temptations but you stand a much better chance of not yielding.

We are born with a worldly nature, which flourishes according to background and influences. Our spiritual natures are alive from birth, but they have little influence beyond quietly yearning for spiritual fulfillment, which only grows and develops when we give our lives to Christ and are subsequently filled with the Holy Spirit.

A good spiritual health is a direct outgrowth of our spiritual natures winning the conflict within us. The apostle Paul wrote, “Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature” (Col. 3:5), “For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want” (Gal. 5:17), and “I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out” (Rom. 7:18). At least on my own without the Holy Spirit’s help.

These two natures within me battle for control of our hearts and minds. The sin nature does not want to “die” and, therefore, will fight (and sometimes fight dirty) to survive. But the spiritual man longs to be led by the Spirit, to obey God’s Word, to fulfill His life’s purpose, for he knows that true happiness and success comes from walking on God’s path and doing God’s “will”. Even knowing this, it can be difficult to give up control to the Spirit.

Making a commitment to serve Christ is often easier than yielding to the Holy Spirit and giving Him control of our lives.  An implication of this conflict between our two natures is evidenced in every facet and level of life.  I am convinced of this, but many of my Christian friends are not. My challenge is to show them that if they appropriate the advantage that is theirs in the workplace and in everyday life, they will have practical, tangible results—wise decisions, insight and understanding beyond normal ability, knowing where the right place is and when the right time is, just to name a few. On the other hand, I must also caution them on the inherent disadvantages for those who are influenced by their worldly natures.

Self-serving people have an inherent disadvantage in life. But a quick rundown of the richest people inAmericaseems to contradict that statement. On the surface it appears as if the arrogant, ruthless, and egotistical prosper, while their compassionate, honest, hardworking counterparts do not. However, on closer inspection, a different picture is visible, but it is one that is often overlooked.

To understand why some self-serving people appear to prosper more than those who serve others, we must, once again, consider the word itself: disadvantage. Like advantage, it must not be confused with the word guarantee. Self-serving people may be less likely to succeed, but this does not mean they don’t succeed. The hard fact is some self-serving people do prosper, at least for a time, in spite of their disadvantages.

When we see self-serving people seem to be extremely successful in life we must realize that most are not at peace with themselves or others.  What price is one willing to sell their souls?  Most of the world will do so for practically nothing.  This is why it is so vital one’s spiritual health is strong and secure enough to refuse  being tempted to do things they know are not acceptable to God.  Living a Christian life isn’t easy and don’t expect the battles will stop, they won’t.  However, we must be spiritually prepared to deal with temptation as we will always be faced with them.    That does not mean we cannot have the pleasures of the world but it does make a difference in why and how we get them.  What is more important: eighty plus years on earth or eternity?

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2 Comments

  1. Trouble

     /  May 22, 2012

    Does the spiritual heart ever need a bypass? K. J.

    Reply

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