You have been saved for a purpose! You were lost in your trespasses; a captive to the power of sin; destined for the grave. But Jesus Christ the Good Shepherd searched for you and came to your rescue; Jesus Christ our Lord and deliverer freed us from the chains of sin; Jesus Christ – God’s eternally begotten Son – came Himself in the flesh and took upon Himself our sin and died in our place. So, how do you live the new life He gave to you; that life He paid for with His own precious blood on the cross? You have been saved for a purpose.
God did not save us so that we might entertain the desires of our flesh. Paul admonishes the Corinthians to resist temptation, but remember the temptation He speaks of is not the enticement or luring of our fallen flesh. He speaks here of the attacks of the devil. These testing attacks of the devil are attempts to break through our defenses in the places where we are weakest so that he might entrap us and destroy us. He finds the place where our fleshly nature makes us vulnerable, leaves us exposed to the lure of sin and he lays in wait to attack in the hopes that our defenses will fail. There is nothing new in this. For the Israelites in the Exodus from Egypt faced the very same desires as we though they walked under the pillar of cloud, and passed through the divided waters; and drank water drawn from a rock. They walked and talked and ate and slept in the very presence of God, and yet the devil attacked them even there and in their weakness, they succumbed. And we like the Corinthians face the same desires of the flesh as the Israelites, desires of body and mind, though we all have eaten of the same spiritual food and have all drank the same spiritual drink. We too stand in the very presence of God the Holy Spirit who dwells in our very hearts; we stand as the very Body of Christ Himself in the world. Yet we still are weakened and made vulnerable to the attacks of the devil by this sinful, dead flesh that still clings to us.
Some will say, don’t worry about it, God will forgive you your sins after all He died for them. But does God’s forgiveness give you license to sin? Martin Luther wrote, “What help is it to a dead man, however much you preach to him about life, if he does not come alive as a result? Or about righteousness to a sinner if he remains in his sins?” Our old sinful self is dead – though it still clings and our new life rises with Christ and it is this new life God calls us to live.
And yet the old flesh still clings and the enticing and luring of our sinful nature makes us vulnerable to the attack of the devil. And he attacks us in order to immobilize us as members of Christ’s Body and neutralize the saving message of the Good News. As the devil attacked the Israelites, so he attacks us; as he attacked the Corinthians, so he attacks us; as he attacked our Lord and Savior, so He attacks us – His Body – today. And I give to you the same word that Paul gave to the Corinthians, ENDURE!
“No attack has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and He will not let you be attacked beyond your ability, but with the attack He will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” And as you endure each attack with His help and with the one true defense He has given us – that being His Word – you grow stronger for His use. As you stand against the devils temptations – being drawn to your knees by your sinful flesh but held upright by the strong arms of the Holy Spirit –you grown stronger for His use. The attack of the devil are used by our Lord forge us. As iron is harden and tempered into steel by repeated heating and pounding and quenching, taking into itself the carbon that makes it something new, so we are hardened and tempered into steel by the repeated attacks of the devil faced through the protection of God’s indwelling Holy Spirit and His Word as we take it into our hearts. When you face the attacks of the devil – standing in the power of the Spirit and defended by the Word of God – you may trust that through His power there is an escape. You will find relief, so ENDURE! You have been saved for a purpose!