You know that point when temptation rises in your heart, and there is that uncontrollable fleshly pull – a longing, a gleeful sin-filled desire – to act on the opportunity in front of you. In that moment you know it’s wrong. You know you shouldn’t. You know the Holy Spirit is crying “No! Don’t!” Yet the old nature in you fights so strongly for that moment of fleshly fulfillment.
I’m sure you know what I’m talking about, though for every person reading this post, the temptation is something different. It may be that draw of sexual temptation or pornography. It could be that moment standing in the gossip circle with something juicy to add. It may be the desire to throw a punch, or pour another drink. The opportunity to sin is an ever-present reality for all of us, though we all struggle with different things. In fact, look around. Right now you may be in what you consider a completely benign situation, yet someone around you in the same situation is in the middle of a temptation you can’t even imagine.
The question is, why, in that moment of temptation, is it so easy for us to give into the flesh and go for it? Why, all-too-often, do we so easily give up our firm stance to the enemy, and fall?
One story in the Bible that I think speaks so much to this spiritual reality is the story of King David and Bathsheba.
“In the spring of the year, the time when kings go out to battle, David sent Joab, and his servants with him, and all Israel. And they ravaged the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah. But David remained at Jerusalem.
It happened, late one afternoon, when David arose from his couch and was walking on the roof of the king’s house, that he saw from the roof a woman bathing; and the woman was very beautiful. And David sent and inquired about the woman. And one said, “Is not this Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?” So David sent messengers and took her, and she came to him, and he lay with her…” (2 Samuel 11:1-4)
This temptation and sin of David, as we know, led to further sin on his part; even the death of Bathsheba’s husband, Uriah, in an attempt to cover what he had done.
Now in reading this story, for any honest guy, we can understand David’s problem. Lust creeps up so easily on us. I want to believe David was on the roof of his house doing his Kingly duties; thinking about some strategy for his next military conquest, or even in prayer for God’s guidance through the day. But then out of nowhere he is blindsided by a beautiful, naked woman nearby, and he looks. That’s all it takes for those moments of temptation to hit us. A glance. A situation out of our hands. A thought. A small taste of the forbidden fruit. And way more than most of us would care to admit, in the same way as David, we too fall.
Changing the Scenario
Now, while I fully understand the situation David found himself in, I don’t think the scenario had to play out that way. I see two glaring problems in this story that add up the David’s fall into sin. And I think these two issues are the same issue too many of us find ourselves facing when temptations come our way as well.
The first issue is David’s recklessness with his God-given identity. God had anointed David and called him as King. David also heard the voice of God and was known as a prophet. He was called to be the Man of God at the head of God’s people. And he knew this. He knew what the anointing carried, because many times in the book of 1 Samuel we see David refuse to kill King Saul because of that anointing on him. Yet in a brief lapse in his judgement, David threw away all notion of the life and responsibility of being the Lord’s anointed for a few moments of sinful pleasure. David fell because he forgot who he was in God.
The second issue is that David wasn’t where he should have been. Verse 1 above says, in “the time when kings go out to battle… David remained in Jerusalem.” When as the head of God’s people, David should have been leading God’s people into battle, David did not go to war. Notice, he didn’t excuse anyone else from going to war. He sent them all to the battle. He knew the battle was necessary, but he did not think it necessary for himself to be engaged in. It is in his not going to battle, that David finds himself in the situation where the temptation could even arise. David fell because he neglected to go to war.
What about us?
I said I think these two issues apply to us, but how? I mean none of us have been anointed as King or the head of God’s people. None of us have been called to a physical war with the enemies of God. Our situation is quite different from David’s, right?
Well not so fast.
First off, though it is true that you are not the King of God’s people, it doesn’t change the fact that as God’s child, you are royalty. We are children of the King and heirs to the Kingdom of God. As such, we have an anointing on our lives that carries expectations and responsibilities that those outside the Kingdom do not have.
Secondly, we are called to battle. We are to be both warring against the desires of the flesh and the works of the devil. As the church collectively we are to be engaging and plundering the gates of hell. The people of God and His Kingdom have an enemy, and now is the time for war.
I would contend then that when the moment of temptation comes so strongly on our hearts and we fall it is because we, like David, have neglected these two things. We don’t stand firm in our identity as royalty in God’s Kingdom, and therefore do not see the dangers in giving in to momentary pleasure. And for too many, we have never even entered the spiritual battlefield. We think that all that “spiritual warfare” stuff is only for the spiritual elites – the pastors or missionaries overseas. We don’t deny the fact that spiritual warfare is a real thing. But most of us just don’t think we are called to that battle too much of the time.
If I were to put into the scriptural phrasing what I think happens to us too often, it would be this:
In the time of temptation, the time when children of the King go out to battle… we don’t go to the fight.
We fall because we don’t grasp who we are, or the fact that the battle is ours.
It’s time for War.
If you have given your life to Christ and believe you are saved by His grace, it is time for you to go deeper into this thing than having just having said a prayer in sunday school as a kid.
You are royalty. You are seated in heavenly places with Christ (Eph. 2:6) and have access to all the resources of Heaven. And you are called to the battlefield.
Stop playing the victim to sin. Stop acting like you can’t do anything about it. Get up from your non-engaging life, accept who you are in Christ, and take up arms. It’s time for God’s Children to go to war. Welcome to the fight.