It’s a perfect metaphor for the world we live in and the struggles that are contained there. Dangerous temptation lurks around every corner enticing us to partake in the sinful nature of the world. And let’s be honest. Sometimes it’s hard to say no. Satan knows exactly where to hit us. He knows right where our struggles are and he will poke and prod us until we give in.
Anyone who lives in Seattle definitely knows about the Jungle because it really does exist. Lying underneath an elevated section of Interstate 5 is a homeless encampment stretching for 160 acres around downtown Seattle. The city has spent countless hours and millions of dollars to clean the place up but murder, prostitution, rape, drug use and other violent crime remains prevalent. The sad truth is, many of the city’s homeless have nowhere else to go and eventually get sucked into the Jungle’s vortex of crime and debauchery.
I know I’ve used an extreme example in highlighting the plight of Seattle’s homeless, but our fight against temptation is much the same. We’ve got to find a way to emerge from the squalor and leave the filth and sin of this world behind. While we can be grateful for the cleansing power of Jesus’ blood and its ability to wash away our sins, we still must make every effort to keep ourselves from falling into Satan’s traps. We must “clothe (ourselves) with the Lord Jesus Christ, and not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature” (Romans 13:14). And how exactly do we do that?
- Avoid Temptation– Temptation typically follows a pattern in our lives. It’s possible for Christians to stay away from situations and people that easily lead us to sin. Although we have a sinful nature residing in all of us, we cannot make temptation easy for ourselves. When we put ourselves in a position where it’s hard to say no, we effectively bring sin onto ourselves.
- Be Accountable– We can make great plans of being a good Christian and walk away when temptations arise, but sometimes we need help to see the danger that lies behind our choices (Proverbs 15:22). Being accountable to one another, especially a trusted brother or sister in Christ, is one of the most effective ways to stay away from sin. And when we do sin, being transparent about it will keep us from hiding our sin and making it worse (James 5:16).
- Devour God’s Word– “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things” (Philippians 4:8). If we fill our minds with the garbage found in music and television, how can we expect to remain pure? It’s vital that we fill our hearts and minds with the perfect word of God. Memorizing and meditating on scripture is a great way to rise above the sinful world we live in. The choices we make during our free time will help keep our eyes focused on the perfect will of our Lord (Romans 12:2).
Let’s all encourage one another to rise above the sins of this world so we can be prepared for that wonderful day when Jesus returns.