Recently while eating lunch with a friend he mentioned to me a struggle I often experience. When faced with temptation, I know I should choose to think about truth. But it seems like theology is the last thing I want to think about. Why is that?
Temptation Versus Truth
Theology is simply the study of God. When I am in the act of sinning, or being tempted by sin, the last thing my flesh wants me to do is think about God. As my friend and I talked, we came to realize that thinking about theology is like allowing God into the room. We know He is already there. But once I start thinking about God, I become aware of His presence. And His presence brings conviction and sheds light on my dark heart of sin. When I’m tempted, I must let God into the room. With His convicting presence comes the power and grace I need to win the battle with sin. Let’s consider an example.
Remember Who You Are
I love the theology of a Christian’s union with Christ. God tells us in the book of Colossians,
“If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.Colossians 3:1-4
Set your minds on things that are above,
not on things that are on earth.
For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.
When Christ who is your life appears,
then you also will appear with him in glory.
This passage teaches three simple truths that help me battle temptation.
- I am no longer a sinful citizen of earth, but a saved saint of heaven.
If I were to look at my spiritual passport, it would say, “Cameron Pollock, Citizen of Heaven.” My identity in Christ means I am called to seek the things above that are heavenly (righteous), not earthly (sinful). If I am living in sin, it means I am not living according to who I am in Christ. That’s a problem. When I allow God into the room, He reminds me of my real identity and calls me to live like a citizen of heaven.
- I have died to sin, so it has no power over me.
The passage clearly tells me I have died. But what does that mean? Other passages of the Bible, like Romans 6:1-4, clarify that just as Jesus died for my sin, in Christ I have died to my sin. Because of your identity in Christ, sin has no power over you. You can and must say “no” to it. When I allow God into the room, He reminds me that Christ died for my sin so that I would die to my sin. And, by God’s grace, I can and must die to my sin.
- I am alive in Christ and will appear with Him in glory.
As negative as the previous truth was, the next truth is gloriously positive. The Bible is more than just a list of rules telling me what I should and should not do. It is a message of the bountiful life we enjoy in Christ. Just as Jesus died for my sin, and I died to my sin, Jesus has been raised to life, and I have been raised to new life in Christ. I can replace my sinful thoughts and desires with a new kind of righteous, God-glorifying living. When I allow God into the room, He reminds me of His resurrection power. Someday, when Jesus appears in glory I will share in that glory. And, though at times I will fail, I have the permission and power to start living like I’m in heaven right now. Now that’s something worth living for.
These theological truths do not wear out over time. You will find them eternally reliable because they come from our eternally faithful God. We all live in this fallen, sinful world. We still battle our defeated flesh. So the next time you face temptation, or find yourself already up to your neck in sin, don’t hesitate to allow God into the room. Turn your mind toward these powerful truths, and ask God to do what only He can do — save you from your sin.