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“THE HOT WATER OF TEMPTATION” – Nov 13

November 13, 2013

“Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.”  Matthew 4:1

Tambako the Jaguar / Foter.com / CC BY-ND

“You’re not going to like it”, were the words we heard upon stepping into the unique blend of humidity and chlorine that greets visitors at the City pool.  The petite, teenage, lifeguard was standing behind the front counter with a look of someone who has a secret.  She quickly divulged the inspiration behind her prophecy of my pending dissatisfaction.  The thermostat that controls the boiler for the pool had malfunctioned and over-heated the water.  The pool water was at a steamy 94 degrees.  I have never swum in a hot tub so I figured I would give it a try.

All it took was a warm up lap to realize that I was not going to like this.

Swimming in hot water is a strange sensation.  You cannot cool down.  Normally, swimming provides the delightful experience of vigorous exercise without overheating and sweating.  I can reach the pool’s edge after a strenuous set, with my heart pounding and gasping for air, yet I am perfectly cool.  Water is an amazing heat sink.  All the heat created by my body from swimming can easily be removed by the water.  You can work incredibly hard but you only break into a flop sweat after you get out of the pool.

However, this phenomenon only occurs in a pool with a temperature in the eighties or below. When I tried to swim in 90 degree water, I could feel an accumulation of heat with ever lap.  By the fifth lap, I had to stop.  It almost became claustrophobic.  As I struggled to keep my eyes on the black line below me, I could feel this oppressive heat building around me and sapping all the strength from body.  By the time I got to the pool’s edge on my fifth lap, I had to get out.  I had to stand up and allow the air to cool me off.  I did not like that at all.  I ended up doing only three set of five laps before I had had enough.  My endurance succumbed to the hot water of the pool.

The Christian life takes us through a lot of different kinds of water.  There are some waters so hot with temptation that all we can focus on is the temperature on our flesh.  The temptations of other waters can be so minor that setting our minds on the things of the Spirit can be done without consideration to the heat on our flesh.

The temperature of the water is unique to each Christian. 

hidden side / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA

I have struggled with lust since my teenage years.  I cannot swim in those waters for any length of time.  I know that even a single lap of an extended ogle of cleavage, a click on the seductive, or the relishing of the sexual will not go well for me.  (THE PETRAEUS IN ALL OF US)  I have to get out of those waters.  I know many people for whom those waters are not hot.  They can swim for miles and miles in those waters and their minds easily stay fixed on the things of the Spirit.

It is not that way for me.  I am embarrassed by my continued weakness in this area; I hate it.  When I was in my teens, I never thought that lust would still be a temptation in my forties.  I have prayed many times for God to take this weakness away.  He can but He has not.  Therefore, I strive to live in a manner that God may be glorified in my weakness and I am careful of the waters that I swim in because I know myself.

Jimmy Morris / Foter.com / CC BY-NC

I don’t have a huge problem with gossip.  However, I can get caught up in the web of gossipers after a few laps through those waters.  For me, swimming through the waters of gossip is an accumulation of heat.  The gossip’s entire conversational playlist often contains a relentless bombardment of opinions about other people.  Gossips normally find that I am not a very sympathetic ear.  I don’t suffer their negativism very well.  However, I do have to be careful because I can succumb to a bombardment of gossip if I am around it too much.  I need to punch out after a couple laps if a gossip will not be redirected.

I know some folks who have very sympathetic ears and seem to be honey in the attraction of gossips.  They cannot endure the hot water of gossips.  They don’t have the personality to shut a gossip down so they are immediately sucked into the conversation and succumb to the temptation.  The waters are too hot for them.  They have to get out of those waters.  They should not be around some of their “friends” due to the increased temperature of temptation that they bring.

SanforaQ8 / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA

I don’t struggle with contentment.  I know that there are many who ride the spiritual roller coaster.  They are exuberant on the highs but fight the temptations of discontentment and discouragement on the lows.  For them, a spiritually dry season is a difficult swim through hot water that causes their faith to feel claustrophobic.  They have to seek respites from the temptations to discouragement and discontentment through the faith of others.

I am in a dry season that has lasted about 1-1/2 years.  I am not particularly excited about what is going on in my faith.  Most mornings, I don’t feel like getting out of bed to do my devotions of Bible reading and prayer.  However by God’s grace, I always get up, pour myself a cup of coffee and settle down for a time with my Lord … I am rarely disappointed.  My Lord always seems to give just the right amount of nourishment to cool my soul and prepare me for another day of swimming through this world.  Even though I am in a frustratingly dry season that I don’t like, I feel very content and satisfied.  I can eagerly join my voice to the chorus of “It is well with my soul”.  By God’s grace, He has enabled me to swim comfortably through waters that others might find too hot.

Every follower of Christ must know their soul and be able to gauge the temptation temperature of the water.  We all face temptations of various kinds and forms.  It is the work of the Spirit through our sanctification that enables us to find the way out in all circumstances.

We know that God does not tempt anyone (James 1:13).  However, we also know that the waters we swim in have temptations that are included in His sovereign plan.  His plan is for our good and that includes temptations.  When we overcome temptation, we are strengthened; if we succumb, we are humbled and see our continued need of a Savior and the works of the Spirit for further sanctification and grace.  Our sanctification is a divine work of the Spirit in our lives.  He is living and active and is working all things for our good.  He loves us

We just need to learn how to cooperate with the Spirit to still our souls and glorify God in all circumstances.

PRAYER: O Father, you know me better than I know myself.  I know that I am in your hands.  Help me endure the temptations of this world.  Sanctify my heart.  Help me in my weaknesses.  May others be lifted up through my strengths.  May you be glorified in both.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son,  Jesus Christ.   Amen.

2 comments

  1. Love the honesty and transparency! Also im my 40’s but have just recently walked out of the last trap. I used to struggle continually until the revelation of the word identity became so real to me.

    I’ll tell you about it more later but battery is about to die


  2. Oh, it is so very hard for me to listen and see and it is hard to flee without revelation to see ..it takes a brave and willing heart. Holy Spirit give me a heart to hear your voice.



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