My blog-post last week told of my custom (which is a practice I learned of from reading about Jonathan Edwards) of asking questions of “the Text.” I find that I often come up with questions for the Lord for which I don’t have a ready answer, but which I expect to find an answer in Scripture—in time. And this happens
One of the questions which I have been pondering is “Lord, how do I reform my character…as much as it depends upon me?” And as I was reading through Luke, something seemed to lurch out at me.
You remember the story: Jesus was newly baptized by John the Baptist (chapter 3) and Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, heads into the wilderness for forty days. He ate nothing for that time and at the end of it, He was hungry. No doubt.
The devil tempts him to command the stone to become bread, to fall down and worship him, to test His angel-crash-test-fail-safe system and jump off the pinnacle of the temple. And at each temptation, Jesus answers with scripture:
· “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone.’”
· “It is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God and Him only shall you serve.’”
· “It is said, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’”
How do we reform our character? Do you see it in there?
When Jesus was tempted, He proved to be bulletproof to sin take over. (Remember, being tempted isn’t a sin. Giving in to it, is.) How did He do that? He fought temptation with Scripture.
Yeah, sure, we’ve heard that before. (Maybe you haven’t. In that case, great! Take note!)
But…do we act on that knowledge? Jesus had scripture down inside of Him. It was ready to bubble up when tempted. Are YOU so chock-full of scripture that it takes over, goes on auto-pilot when you are faced with temptation? When you feel the heat of passion rising, do you think “In your anger, do not sin” (Eph 4:26) or “…Be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry…” (James 1:19-20). Or when you are tempted to peruse that iffy web-page farther than you know you should, does scripture come to your aid, “I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes…” (Psalm 101:3) or “Flee sexual immorality” (1 Cor 6:18). Or when you are tempted to gossip “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, only such as is good for building up…that it may give grace to those who hear.” (Eph 4:29) or “…speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people.” (Titus 3:2)
Do you think that Scripture memorization is only for Awana kids? …for children? I fear that’s the impression we give our kids when we, as adults, fail to put Scripture inside of us as well. Jesus was spiritually impervious to temptation because He had feasted on Scripture and it had become part of Him, had reinforced His thinking to the extent that righteous responses to temptation were His default setting. Are you impervious to temptation? Would you like to be? These verses said to me “let the word of Christ dwell in me richly” and the character will follow and take care of itself. [On my good days] I want my character reformed, so that I will more closely reflect Jesus to the world around me. Toward that end, I need scripture inside of me and am working on that. How about you?