Rule #4: Watch for Temptation (8 Rules for Growing in Godliness)

It is the deep longing of every Christian to be like Jesus, to imitate the one who perfectly obeyed God and perfectly fulfilled all righteousness. We long to be “transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another” (2 Corinthians 3:18). This is our longing because this is our purpose. According to Calvin, God means to “bring our lives into harmony and agreement with His own righteousness, and so to manifest to ourselves and others our identity …

The Particular Temptations of Young Men

Young men have it tough. In so many ways, this world seems to have been custom-crafted to take advantage of their weaknesses, their flaws, their immaturities. Solomon lamented this in his day, telling of the seductresses and prostitutes who laid in wait for young men. He told as well of the immaturity and ungodliness of young men that made them especially prone to sadly blunder or joyfully sprint into the traps and snares laid for them. Today he might write …

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8 Ways God Turns Temptations to Blessings

God promises that “all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28). This gives us assurance that God can and will turn anything to our good. No situation is too grave, no enemy too strong, no temptation too great. Yes, God overrules even temptations so they benefit us instead of harming us. Just as a tree which is blown by the wind is settled and rooted …

How to Know How Satan Is Tempting You

Martin Luther once compared the Christian to a drunk man trying to ride a horse. It’s a comically apt comparison. This man scrambles up one side of the horse, and promptly falls off the opposite side. So then he climbs up from that side, and falls right off the other. Luther meant to say that as Christians, we are prone to extremes. When we are not veering too far in one direction, we are swerving too far in the other. …

Every Test and Every Temptation

Life is full of difficult circumstances. Life inevitably involves circumstances that we would never have chosen on our own. Yet, the Bible assures, God does not work his grace in his people despite circumstances, but right through the middle of them. As we look at life’s difficult circumstances, we can sometimes be confused about what this thing is and what it is meant to accomplish. The Bible tells us that there are at least two categories of difficult circumstances: There …

Satisfaction at the Cost of Obedience

I will eat just about anything. I’m an adventurous omnivore and often walk into restaurants hoping to try something new and different. But there is at least one exception: I simply cannot tolerate shrimp. I hate those bottom-feeding sea bugs and I will do everything I can to avoid them. Sometimes people try to convince me to try shrimp by saying, “But you’ve never had them fried in garlic butter” or “You’ve got to just try them in the grits.” …

A Plea for Innocence

I want to be good at good. In fact, I want to be an expert in good. At least, I do when I’m at my best. But in moments of introspection I see a real interest in evil as well. These desires battle within me, the desire to fill my mind with good and the desire to fill my mind with evil. As Paul came to the end of his great letter to the church in Rome, he gave some …

The Theory, the Practice

Putting sin to death is at once so simple and so excruciatingly difficult. The theory of it is simple enough, but the practice takes a lifetime. It is fascinating to me that in John Owen’s Overcoming Sin and Temptation he dedicates thirteen chapters to the preparatory work of putting sin to death, but just one chapter to the actual practice of it. That fact alone is worth pondering. As he comes to that one chapter, Owen has only two broad …

3 Things To Consider Before That Next Big Sin

Sin promises so much but delivers so little. Sin always amplifies its benefits and minimizes its cost. Sin always aims at the uttermost, always nudging toward utter death and destruction. And yet we love our sin, and secretly harbor it, and grieve to turn aside from it. John Owen has a challenge for you. Before that next big sin you are pondering, he wants you to simply consider three things. Consider the Guilt of It Before that next sin, consider …

My Naughty Heart

John Flavel was one of the great Puritan preachers and authors. Much of Flavel’s ministry was toward sailors, so he often relied on nautical metaphors and terminology. In An Honest, Well Experienced Heart, Adam Embry shares a poem titled “My Naughty Heart.” “Naughty” rhymes with “knotty,” a play on words that falls in the middle of the piece. Flavel writes of a heart that is so often steered in the wrong direction. A ship of greatest burthen will obey The …