The great temptation that always proceeds sin is self-will. From Eve in the Garden of Eden to our Lord in the Wilderness of Galilee, this had always been Satanís tool. Luciferís very own demise was his own self-will.
ISAIAH 14:13-15 For thou [Lucifer] hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.
And so he used self-will as one of his tools to cause men and women to think they had independent thought, their own imagination, their own way. Yet these were only instruments of his deceit for there were only two ways, two roads. We are all today on the wrong road until we come to the crossroad. Then we have a choice, GODís new way or the same old way. The purpose of the lie is to attempt to convince us that we have been going our own way, but none of us really have.
JAMES 4:13-14 Go to now, ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain: whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.
Until we are free from the bondage of sin, we are only pawns moved about at this worldís discretion. We may have thought we were in control of our own destinies, but we knew not even what tomorrow held. As such, this same self-will resulted in Adam and Eveís calamity when she saw and she took and she gave. She was not really doing her own will; she was just obeying the subtleties of the Serpent. She set aside GODís will for that of the Serpentís. And thus mankind subsequently continued in the steps of their first parents.
ROMANS 5:12 Wherefore, as by one man [Adam] sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:
Plainly, death is the result of sin, for "the wages of sin is death". But death is not necessarily only the end of one's physical life when he is buried in the ground. Death is also realized in the absence of oneís relationship with GOD. We can still be alive and breathing, yet be without the life that GOD intended us to have. This is the death that sin has brought. This is no doubt what Paul meant when he wrote that one who gives themselves over to pleasure is "dead while she liveth" (1 TIMOTHY 5:6).
James seems to have concurred.
JAMES 1:14-15 But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.
Lust is simply over-desire. When that desire for a thing is so intense as to cause one to reject GODís will, that thought which is just "conceived in oneís heart" results in sin. This is what happened to Eve. She wanted the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil to such a degree that she allowed herself to be enticed. She then set aside GODís will and pursued what she perceived were her own desires. She wanted knowledge, but it was a knowledge that GOD had forbidden her to taste.
She took and she ate, therefore she sinned. This is quite different then when our Lord commanded His disciples to "take, eat" for that was not fruit from the forbidden tree but from the bread of life. Both the fruit and the bread were knowledge; one was offered by the Serpent and the other was offered by our Lord. Taking and eating of His bread gave life while eating of her fruit brought death.Eve walked by her five senses for "she saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise" and she "took of the fruit thereof, and did eat". Walking by the five senses alone inevitably ends with self-will, which results in sin, which if left unchecked eventually culminates in the death of our relationship with GOD. However, walking in the spirit does just the reverse. Setting aside oneís own will and pursuing GODís, builds and develops the infant believer into maturity. Living in the will of GOD is contrary to self-will. Yielding to the spirit verses yielding to the flesh.
GALATIANS 5:16 This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.
Walking in the spirit is life. Walking by the flesh is death. Walking by the spirit is moment by moment and day by day making decisions based upon what GOD would have us think and do. Walking by the flesh is to make decisions based on what the world would have us think and do. These are the choices we are continually faced with making. Of course most donít see the two choices because they are totally unaware of HIS world. They have but only one choice, and they choose it, never really discovering what life truly is or can be.
For those of us who have heard HIS words and believed what we have heard, ours is no longer a forced march down a single path, for "sin does not have dominion over us". Now we can make the choice of which path we will take. The world cannot force us to go their way; neither does GOD compel us to go HIS. With each step, we choose which we will yield to. We either yield ourselves as instruments of unrighteousness, or we yield ourselves unto GOD.
Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word. The Author and Finisher of faith is of course Yeshua (Jesus), who was victorious over the flesh because He set aside His own will for that of the Fatherís.
JOHN 4:34 Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work.
His meat, His sustenance, that which gave Him life was "to do the will of" GOD. If we desire to enter into life, we must determine to follow His steps.
JOHN 5:30 ÖI seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me.
Yeshua understood this vital key in finding a life filled with all the fullness of GOD. One must set aside his own will and seek that of his heavenly Fatherís. This is what Yeshua repeatedly encouraged His disciples to do.
All who find and enter the door into GODís world know this is how it is done. Consider the apostle Paul in his letter to the Romans.
MATTHEW 16:24 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross [his yoke], and follow me.
Peter also, to whom was given the very keys to the kingdom of heaven, testified as to the importance of oneís thinking in ceasing from sin and living "to the will of GOD".
ROMANS 13:14 But put ye on [as clothing] the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.
For some very personal and particular reason, each believer has arrived at the place in his life when he consciously decided to change lords. In some individual way GOD was able to bring each one of us to the point of exclaiming, "no longer my will, but now yours be done". We each voluntarily gave up our own crown and yielded ourselves to be HIS servants. That in itself is astounding! At that moment we took the off-ramp. We left the course this world had kept us bound to, and entered onto a new way.
1 PETER 4:1,2 Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin; that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God.
ROMANS 6:16 Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?
This world would have us desire our own will because the more time and energy we spend chasing after that which they peddle the less we will know GODís will, that it is only "good and acceptable and perfect". With subtlety this world can entice us, it can tempt us, cause us to desire its fruit. That is why we must forever reject its allurements. As our Lord warned, "the thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy". For no other reason did he come, than to endeavor to hinder believers from entering GODís kingdom.
1 CORINTHIANS 2:12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.
There is a spirit of this world, but we want nothing to do with it. Ours is a spirit from GOD. GODís gift is life! That life is the relationship we enjoy with HIM, which begins when one is born from above by the words of truth. It only ends if one is separated from GOD by death, by the words of truth being eclipsed. It only ends when one falls from grace, draws back unto perdition. There is no life in the person who has been "alienated from the life of GOD through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness greediness" (EPHESIANS 4:17-18). There is no life in one who has died!
Pride and haughtiness from what? Nothing other then pride from our accomplishments and accumulations. Pride from what we think we have accomplished by our determination. Pride from what we think we have accumulated from our savvy. But all this is apart from HIS will, for all this is about our own will. For our will to be set aside for HIS, if we are to yield to GOD, we must have our hearts made ready. None of us instinctively desires HIS will. We all seek our own; that is until HE has been at work within us, causing us to both "will and to do of HIS good pleasure". While we are still of this world, we hate HIS will. But once we enter HIS world and are hated by the old world, then do we understand that only HIS will is good and acceptable and perfect. King David learned this hard lesson in a most tragic way. He had lusted after Bathsheba, the wife of one of his most valiant soldiers, Uriah. Their affair caused him to craft the insane scheme to have his loyal servant killed, which of course he later regretted. His lamentation over the whole ordeal is written in PSALM 51 where he acknowledged that GOD "desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it: thou delightest not in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart". GOD desires neither our labors nor our fortunes; HE seeks our hearts. But like a wild horse our hearts are rebellious and must be bridled.
PROVERBS 16:18 Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.
While we are young our hearts are reckless and we yield more readily unto this world. It is only after GOD has been at work within us that we are able to obtain a "wise and understanding heart". HE allows us to learn the lessons from the experiences that only HE can engineer. That is our very purpose as we go through our daily routine, to realize the futility of seeking our own will and the fulfillment that comes from seeking to know HIS. That becomes our purpose, to get to know our Fatherís will.
ISAIAH 57:15 For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite [crushed] and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.
Quite amazing! The Creator either dwells in "high and holy" places, or "with himÖ of a contrite and humble spirit". And why does HE dwell with men of contrite and humble spirits? To revive their spirit and their heart. HE is at work within us, molding us, fashioning us, transforming us. HIS work is a perfect work. HE desires not that we be losers, but winners. If we are HIS adopted sons, then we are HIS heirs, joint heirs with HIS only begotten Son. But HE will not tolerate spoiled brats. HIS intent is for HIS children to become the men and women who know the true way into life.
Many people never enter HIS world because they are only seeking to make this earthly existence more comfortable, pleasurable and secure. They totally miss the whole purpose of the few years GOD gives us in this life, which is to understand and enter into HIS reality. We should not attempt to insulate ourselves from all sadness if it is HIS will for us to know it. We should not try to protect ourselves from any lack, if it is HIS will that we experience that.
While the lump of clay is fresh, the potter can easily mold it and reshape it into whatever design he wishes. However, once he has placed it in the kiln and exposed it to the fire, the piece becomes hard and its shape permanent. In this life we are being shaped. In the next life there may be no opportunity to reshape us for then we shall no doubt have been exposed to the fire and dried in the kiln. Let us therefore gladly yield to HIS shaping now, knowing "the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy".
As the wise preacher wrote in ECCLESIASTES;
"By the sadness of the countenance the heart is made better". We had previously been duped into believing the world's lie that we will be happy only when all displeasure is gone. True happiness however, comes when we realize that our experiences are ordained by an omnipotent Creator. HE engineers circumstances and events to give us the experiences we need to learn the lessons which introduce us to truth. Some lessons come from suffering great loss. We learn far more from our mistakes than we do from our successes.
ECCLESIASTES 7:2-4 It is better to go to the house of mourning, than to go to the house of feasting: for that is the end of all men; and the living will lay it to his heart. Sorrow is better than laughter: for by the sadness of the countenance the heart is made better. The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning; but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth [pleasure].
Fear, depression and anxiety all come from thinking our destiny is left to chance or results from our own determination or lack thereof. But as we begin to realize HIS omnipotence, our fears fade. As we begin to experience HIS love, our depression lifts. As we understand HIS preparations, our anxieties vaporize. Life is to be experienced outside of the womb, not protected from within it. Infants have no compassion for others; they only have needs, which they selfishly expect all and any to satisfy. It is only after they have grown and matured that they are able to separate themselves from their own desires and obtain a desire to help others.
Can we appreciate the sunshine without the clouds? Would a warm spring day be so desired without the bitter cold of winter? Would we ever long for autumn without the blistering heat of summer? I imagine not.
Doesnít nature itself teach us that good and evil are sisters? Can we know one without the other? So pain and suffering are kin to comfort and happiness. Neither is good, neither is bad. It is only the lessons from the experiences that GOD engineers which are of any value.
If oneís experiences lead him away from a closer relationship with GOD his march is unto the grave. But, if his experiences draw him closer to his Creator and develop a better understanding of GODís ways, those experiences are leading him into life itself.
We are tempted to look at this worldís injustices as if they are the result of some accident or sin. Not so is the case. GOD is omnipotent! HE has the ability to engineer every detail for our learning.
JOHN 9:1-3 And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth. And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind? Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.
Yeshuaís disciples saw a man blind from his birth and thought "oh how tragic!" Yeshua instead saw a man delivered from a blindness that only he himself could understand, unto an eternal awakening and exclaimed that "the works of GOD should be made manifest in him".
What a glorious place to be! Who wouldnít gladly trade places with this man "blind from his birth?" Who wouldnít gladly give up his own sight to be able to "see Him" and "talk with Him?" For it is only after that, after we have been delivered from our own blindness, after we have been able to see Him and talk with Him that we can at long last worship HIM. Whatever is required for us to obtain that treasure, we should be thrilled to pay it. It is only he who is willing to loose his life that actually finds it. We should be more than willing to yield unto GOD, as clay in the potterís hands.
ROMANS 5:3-5 And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; and patience, experience; and experience, hope: and hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.
I would much rather be in the company of one who has endured much adversity than one who has had everything handed to him on a silver platter. The rich and powerful and beautiful of this world are often very shallow people. It is more often those who have experienced persecution and great loss who have a depth of understanding about them. This is in some part what Yeshua meant when He said that it is harder for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of GOD than for a camel [a rope] to go through the eye of a needle.
Let us reject all this worldís enticements and yield only to HIS way.