April 14, 2009 • By Ed Wrather
Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death. Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. - James 1:12-16 NKJV.
Artyom Sidorkin arrived at a hospital in Izhevsk, Russia with a fir tree growing in his lung! Well, it was actually only five centimeters long, but it was large enough to cause him some major pain, and he was coughing up blood. When doctors first examined him, they suspected that he had cancer and ordered a biopsy. However, they were a little surprised to find some green needles! The tiny little tree was removed successfully. It is thought that Artyom may have breathed in a bud; then it began to grow in his lung and cause major physical problems.
Our problems with sin usually begin with a tiny little thought or idea that is placed in our hearts. Instead of dismissing the thought we let it hang around for a while. Every few days we find ourselves thinking about the forbidden fruit of a thought that has somehow become implanted in our heart. Whenever we think about that forbidden fruit of a thought; it grows a little larger, and little larger. We find that we have been “drawn away” by our “own desires and enticed.” Then we find that the little bud of the forbidden fruit has “conceived.” “It gives birth to sin” and as it grows larger begins to bring pain and death into our lives.
One of the tricks you could say of dealing with a sinful thought is not to focus on that thought. The more attention that we give to the sinful thought the more likely we will act upon it. What we need to do is to immediately focus our thoughts upon something else. One of the best things to do is to focus our thoughts on Scripture. If we have verses of Scripture memorized, we can begin to run one of those verses or even several of those verses through our minds. If we do not have Scripture memorized, and we are where we have access to a Bible or New Testament, we can begin to read God’s Word when we have those thoughts. Another thing to do, and perhaps to do in combination with the other things is to pray. We can always pray silently. We can pray very short and effective prayers such as, “Lord, help me!” “Lord, guard my heart.” “Lord, unite my heart.”
The writer of the Book of Hebrews understood this principle of refocusing our attention. We are told in Hebrews 12:1b-3, “…let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” In the next verse he says, “For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls (Hebrews 12:3).”
So, when you are confronted by sinful thoughts or ideas: refocus your attention. Look “unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith” and contemplate upon all that He has done for you. “Consider Him” placing your thoughts and focus upon Jesus through Scripture, through prayer, through contemplation, and you will defeat the evil thoughts and desires that sometimes come your way. Remember, think, Jesus!