What do you think would be the consequences if an airline pilot midway to a destination decides to change the course; without permission from his superiors, because of an interest he has at another (off route) location? Allow me to put that illustration into perspective.
You’re on a flight heading to an important meeting on behalf of your company. This meeting could mean make or break for the company’s future and so it’s imperative that everything goes well. The meeting was called on very short notice so, unfortunately as soon as you land you’re going to have to take a taxi and go straight there; you won’t even have time to check into your hotel first. Now imagine that you’re on the flight with the “flighty” pilot, who steers the aircraft away from it’s intended destination because of a new found interest of his that isn’t on the way to where he’s going. Can you imagine the horror? All that you and your colleagues would have worked on would be destroyed, simply because the pilot could not resist the temptation that pulled him away from his purpose.
A lot of times this is what happens in the life of believers. We who have been ordained by God to fulfill a purpose in the kingdom are sometimes tempted to steer off course and instead of practicing self control; understanding the importance of our purpose, we give in to temptation not recognizing that there might be great consequences afterwards.
Temptation to step off course is not unique to us. Christ too faced such temptation while he walked the earth. In Matthew 17:21-23 we see a great example of this. In this passage Christ had begun to tell the disciples that he would have to suffer many things at the hands of the elders and chief priests and scribes and that he would be killed and be raised from the dead after three days. It was in that moment that temptation came through Peter.
The devil used Peter to present a new perspective on the situation. Peter, whom I imagine must have been very emotional at the time started to rebuke Christ, telling Him that he should not have to suffer these things because of who he was. I don’t know about you but that seems like a pretty good argument. I can just see Peter in my mind’s eye telling Christ how great He was and reminding Him of how many great things He accomplished and how much more he can do on earth. Peter must have been so persuasive in His attempt to stop Christ from facing the cross.
Thankfully Christ knew His purpose and was driven by it! Jesus’ response has in it the secret to surviving in the temptation era (V.23).
1. First thing first, Christ knew His purpose. One of the main ways to resist temptation and remained focused on your purpose is to know what you have been called to do. You might be wondering “how do I know if I’m called to do anything?” or “how do I know what my purpose is?”. First thing first we all have a purpose as ambassadors of Christ to represent him and preach the gospel (2 Corinthians 5:20). Secondly we can pray and ask God to reveal to us what is His purpose for our lives as it relates to the kingdom of heaven and he will reveal it to us.
2. Secondly, don’t be afraid to call the devil’s tricks for what it is. Jesus recognized that the devil was using Peter (who was close to him) to present the distraction. Because he knew it wasn’t really Peter but Satan working through Peter he spoke to the devil directly. Sometimes the enemy uses things and people close to us as a means of pulling us away from our purpose. However once we know our purpose we will be able to discern the tricks of the devil and like Christ rebuke him and send him on his way.
3.Thirdly, we need to know the difference between the things of God and the things of men. Everything that is of God can be found in the word of God. If there is something presenting itself to you that is not in alignment with God’s word or with your calling then you know that it is not of God for you to indulge in that thing. Anything, regardless of how good or pleasant it seems, regardless of how great the intention might be, once it pulls you away from the things of God and your purpose in Christ it is a trick of the enemy. In praying it is important for every believer to ask God for the spirit of discernment. We need to depend on God to help us to discern clearly the things that are of him and the things that are not.
The world we live in today presents many, many delightful things that may cause us to drift away from what God has ordained for our lives. However the word of God along with God’s mercy and grace can keep us on the path of righteousness. Let us not be like to fictional pilot above, who carelessly steers off course without realizing that the course ahead is much more important and rewarding than the distraction on the side. All of our purposes can be attained if we keep our eyes fixed on the things above and trust God to keep us till that time when His will is accomplished in our lives.