I Am The Problem
Every sin develops from a personal preference of what I want over what God wants. It does not matter how many restaurants allow you to “Have it your way”. Neither does it matter if someone told you “You are big enough, old enough, and smart enough”? Temptation is more me wanting something other than what my parents instruct me to do, the preacher’s exhortations, or my spouse’s persistent harassment. It is about what God wants that I refuse to do or would rather do another way.
Idolatry is really the problem we are facing. I know we may not be dealing with images of wood, gold, or silver, but the origin of idolatry is not in a lifeless image. Idolatry takes form within the heart of each person. The definition of the word is summed up in the first letter of the word - “I”. Is this not the reason Jeroboam established idols in Bethel and Dan? Idolatry was in his heart before the golden calves were built. It was his personal preference, and when “I” want what “I” prefer over what God prefers, that is Idolatry. You may have used your personal preference to get what you wanted as a child, but has it given you any advantages as an adult at work? Did it help you get a date with that boy/girl you always wanted to go out with? Who am I to think that God will let me get away with what I want without consequences (Proverbs 13:15; Ezekiel 18:4)?
What helps “I” to feel good about itself is being able to tell people that sin was not my idea to start with. All I need to do is say “He started it”, “If it wasn’t for her….”, “They asked me”, or “It was the way I was raised”. “I” likes this kind of thinking, because it takes the heat off “me” and puts it on someone else. Adam attempted to remove the “heat” off himself by blaming Eve, but they were both banished from the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3). What a lesson that is. Yielding to temptation affects others as well as me.
Some rationalize their sin by saying, “It’s not going to hurt anything”, “Who’s going to know”, or “No one will think a thing about it”. It feels good to make these rationalizations because “I” can often hide what the real intentions are. Gehazi was good at rationalizing sin and hiding his intentions from others. He later paid the price – daily suffering of leprosy (2 Kings 5:20-27).
What does “I” need do to resolve his/her problem in order to overcome temptation? The first thing “I” should do isexamine himself and ask “Do I Need to Change?” (2 Cor 13:5). If I do not feel a change is necessary, then I have failed to see what God’s purpose is for my life.
The second thing is listen to Jesus’ exception clause. Whenever I am prone to selfishness and see things the way I want to see them, Jesus says “But I say unto you…” Listen to what He is saying. Study the messages found in the Sermon on the Mount. You will see what the Lord wants is best.
Thirdly, think about others (Philippians 2:3-5). The problem with strife, faction, conflict, and rivalry stems from people making sure no one deprives them of their “rights”, “privileges”, or “liberties”. What a wonderful example we have in the Lord. It was never about Him. It was always about us (Romans 5:6-8; 2 Corinthains 8:9).
The fourth thing is swap “I” for “Him”. Galatians 2:20 is such a sublime passage. It is God’s ultimate weapon against “I”. Christ takes the place of “I” because of a voluntary death. The life I live by dying to Him is so much better. Instead of talking about me, I want to talk about Him. What He thinks. What He likes. What He knows. What He wants. What He sees. Giving careful thought about Jesus, makes me see temptation and sin is all about me. What I have done. “I” am the one….