May 24, 2022
“No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it” (1 Corinthians 10:13, NIV).
Celiac Disease is a fascinating disorder caused by transglutaminase antibodies triggered by glutens in wheat and other grains. It presents in a variety of ways, from severe immediate reactions, to chronic autoimmune symptoms, to even an asymptomatic state. As an oncologist I knew little about celiac disease until my wife and I enjoyed a wonderful trip to Italy, where I learned to love pasta. Shortly thereafter I developed minor lower extremity edema. I was evaluated and found to be iron, B12 and Vitamin D deficient with minor anemia. Sure enough, it was celiac disease. I had been born with it, and it was just now waking up. No big deal, just quit eating wonderful food, and it all goes away. It’s hard to be good. Today one of my oncology fellows brought me a peace offering because he thought he had disrespected me, though he had not. It was a box of the most incredible donuts. I knew better. I counted the cost, and I ate half of the most wonderful coconut-coated donuts I had ever tasted, at least since my diagnosis. It was impossible for me to refuse.
How does temptation do it? Clearly, we know better and realize the consequences—but then we move ahead, doing what we know is wrong. I have never been addicted to alcohol or drugs, but knowing myself, I am certain I would repeatedly fail to let them go, should that be my addiction. What’s wrong with me? What’s wrong with us?
Most harmful temptations are sensory or relationally grounded. Most go deeper than our intellect into our gut, into our spirit. “…the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life…” as John put it in 1 John 2:16 (NIV). “…the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desire for other things…” as Jesus put it in Mark 4:19. All of these forces grasp and squeeze our bodies, minds and hearts in their desire to be fulfilled.
How do we overcome? We certainly are promised that we can overcome, as it states in 1 Corinthians 10:13.
God did not leave us without instruction:
- Keep trying hard—“Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7b, NIV).
- Remove ourselves from tempting environments—“Flee the evil desires of youth…” (2 Timothy 2:22, NIV).
- Find someone or someones to hold us accountable—“Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10a, ESV).
- Fill our hearts and minds with good things, leaving no room for the bad—“Finally brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable…think about such things” (Philippians 4:8, NIV).
- Abide in Christ and in His Word—“No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him” (1 John 3:6, ESV).
Try hard, avoid situations where I am weak, find others to hold me accountable, fill my mind with things that are good and, above all, abide in Christ. When I fail, I can usually identify at least one I have left out.
With coconut donuts, I just quit trying.
You have promised to protect me from turning away from you. Please help me use all of your armor (Ephesians 6:13-16).
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