Day 37: Overcoming Our Dark Desires

THE HUNT

It is well known that lions tend to hunt early in the mornings or during the night. The rest of their time is spent saving their energy as they rest in the shade during the heat of the afternoon sun. But, if an opportunity presents itself, a lion will break from this habit no matter what time of day it is. Such is the nature of this bold a creature, who vastly outmatches almost any prey. However, this also describes the enemy we face nearly perfectly. He will hunt us when we are weakest (for me, often in the morning and at night), and he also keeps a close watch for any other chance to pin us down under the weight of his claws.

Temptation comes in many ways and many forms. The Bible also describes our enemy in a variety of fashions, specifically regarding how he tempts us. This lesson focuses on just one of the methods he uses, the element of surprise. Have you ever felt completely caught off guard when giving into temptation?

Control yourselves and be careful! The devil, your enemy, goes around like a roaring lion looking for someone to eat. -1 Peter 5:8

It feels this way when we are tempted right? All at once the temptation comes at just the right time, as if the enemy was stalking us from behind, waiting for the opportunity to pounce. Before we know it, we’ve fallen into sin yet again. When Jesus was tempted in Matthew 4, it happened shortly after he was baptized. When he was baptized, God opened heaven and descended His Holy Spirit on him and approved Jesus as the Son of God. What we learn from this is that temptation can happen even after a spiritual high-point in our lives. It also happens when we are physically weak and alone, as Jesus was in this situation. He had not eaten for 40 days and none of his disciples were around.

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SUBMIT

This passage is two-fold, First, we are to submit ourselves to God. It amazes me how important it is to remember God on a daily basis, or even a moment-by-moment basis. When I stray from God's word (by neglecting to pray, read, and worship), the enemy begins to lure me into a trap. Read the passage below again, paying specific attention to the warning we’re given:

Control yourselves and be careful! The devil, your enemy, goes around like a roaring lion looking for someone to eat. -1 Peter 5:8

We are warned to control ourselves and be careful. The New Living Translation puts it like this: “Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil.” All throughout scripture we find reminders to be reminded. Christ, just before being arrested and sentenced to death, reminded his disciples to dwell on Him as often as they eat and drink:

And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” -Luke 22:19

PRONE TO WANDER

We’re prone to forget, it’s part of being human. Our enemy knows this and exploits it the moment he sees us exposed by our forgetfulness. To stop the enemy, we must remember Christ on a regular basis. If we want to serve the will of God, if we want to be free from sexual sin, we must take up our cross daily in remembrance of Christ:

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Apart from Christ, we’re hopeless to defeat the enemy and his frequent attacks. Lions are powerful, bloodthirsty creatures with a hunger for their prey. Often called “The King of the Jungle," a lion is unmatched in strength and ferocity. Although Satan is far from unmatched, he is extremely powerful and, when taken lightly, can wreak havoc in the life of a person. In light of all this, Jesus is more powerful still, soundly defeating this enemy at the cross. The key for us to win this battle is to realize that by following Him we are given the strength to move mountains.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” -John 16:33

Imagine yourself in this scenario: You’ve just come home from a retreat where God really spoke to you in profound ways. During the trip you were in His word, praying, worshiping and enjoying fellowship on a regular basis. Now that you’re home, back in the monotonous routines of life, you feel your spiritual fervor slipping away. What can you do to continue remembering and staying committed to God all the time?

KEEPING THE DARKNESS AT BAY

I’ve seen many spiritually high moments come and go in my life. For a long time it seemed that there was an insurmountable valley between these moments and my regular life. My life often felt bleak, dark, and dull compared to moments where I was experiencing God vividly and intentionally (missions trip, conference, retreat, etc.). During those spiritual low times, I was particularly tempted by the enemy. You may or may not relate to this, but often I just felt as though my life was coasting through. It seemed my struggle with sin was just another part of the confusion I felt for not being more alive and excited about my walk with Christ. The enemy took advantage of this for years (my defeated attitude) and allowed sin to fester and grow until it was completely out of control.

What I came to realize is that these spiritually high moments, where we feel God's presence in a real way, are hardly limited to the times when we leave our daily lives and predictable routines (i.e. going on a retreat or to a conference). The life-given experiences of these events are available to us all the time. When you begin to plug into the word of God out of genuine desire, unite with the body of Christ through fellowship (Bible studies, small groups, a mentor), and prayerfully seek Him, you will find that God fills you with indescribable joy towards a Christ centered life. Don’t be like I was for many years, foolishly neglecting the simple commands of His word and wallowing around in sin.

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. -Matthew 6:33

Day 37 Application

What should we do with the enemy that constantly hunts us? How are we to respond?

How can you, or how are you submitting yourself to God daily?

According to scripture, what does the Spirit desire for our lives? What in particular is God up to in your life at this point? How has your relationship with your accountability partner been going?

Since the last lesson, how have you been with maintaining your sexual purity?