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In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. 1 John 5:3-4

There is an old Native American legend regarding evil and good. Evil is portrayed as a dark dog that lives within each of us; good is a white dog that also lives within each of us. The two are at constant battle for control of our lives. The dog we choose to feed the most is the dog that wins control of our lives.

In a sense, the legend isn’t far from being wrong. Paul describes a similar scenario in his own life when he says, in Romans 7, the good that I want to do, I don’t do. Instead, the very things I hate, the very things I despise, I find myself doing over and over again. Paul, like the rest of us, want to see the ‘dark dog’ die, yet we continue to feed it at least enough to guarantee power to wage war in our lives.

Any of us who have walked the journey of life at all are well aware of the battle within. There are so many things out there that cry out to us. Things that make us feel good (for awhile at least), things that ‘seem right’ (even though they contradict God’s law), things that sneak up on us and attack us at our weakest moment.

For some of us it’s an addictive habit like smoking, drugs or alcohol, or lust. For others it’s anger, language or food. Still others battle daily with feelings of failure, insecurity, fear and doubt. We work hard to build or salvage broken relationships, save our homes or jobs and rescue our children from harm. It’s draining just to think about it!

The Apostle John gives us a formula for victory. It’s a lesson he learned at the feet of Jesus himself. The secret to victory over the world isn’t found in religion. It’s not found in social action, counseling, self-help books or volunteering at the local soup kitchen. Recovery groups and fitness programs won’t help either.

The secret to victory over whatever you are struggling with is love. Not love as the world gives, but love that comes from a growing relationship with God through Jesus Christ. Many of us know that but few of us see victory. One reason may be that we forget, or have never learned, that relationship takes time. Victory won’t come over night. The bad news is that we are responsible for every bad decision we’ve ever made. We can choose. The good news is that even if we’ve made a boatload of bad decisions in life, Jesus Christ will forgive us and help us back on the road to recovery.

Don’t expect to win every battle every day. Take little steps. Relationship comes as we read God’s Word on a daily basis, pray for guidance and strength and refuse (one decision at time) not to listen to the enemy voices that want to bring us to defeat.

People who are victorious over the things that bring them down are the people who determine every day to walk just one step closer to the light. The are the ones that have learned to celebrate the small victories in life and bounce back from the occasional defeats as they learn to love Jesus Christ above all else.  

PRAYER: Father, from this day forward I have resolved to move closer to you in relationship through the love and forgiveness only Jesus Christ can offer. Forgive me for the times I’ve made wrong choices. Empower me with your Spirit to learn to walk closer to you and love you more. In Jesus name, Amen.


No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. 1 Corinthians 10:13

Comedian Flip Wilson used to do a skit in the 1970’s in which his ‘character’ did all sorts of things wrong. Whenever he was caught his quick response was to say it wasn’t his fault, “the Devil made me do it!”

It was just a silly skit but lurking in the shadows of the laughter is a truth that none of us should ignore. When bad things happen to us, or to others, our first tendency is to place the blame on someone. We blame other people, we blame God, we blame government or employers. We even may blame the Devil, or Satan.

There are three things each of us must realize about ‘the Devil’. First of all, the Devil, or Satan, is a real spirit person just as God is except that he doesn’t have nearly the power God does. Secondly, the bible is very clear that Satan is the root of all temptation and that his main goal in life is to draw us away from God. Lastly, and this is the most important thing, if we have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ we can order Satan to leave. In fact the Bible says that if we resist him, he flees from us.

The third statement about Satan is very important when we are tempted to do things we know we are not supposed to do or when we don’t do things we know we should do. Temptation is not sin. Being tempted is a thought; sin is acting on the thought. The bad news side to temptation is that if we act on the temptation we have no one to blame but ourselves. If we get angry or bitter or unforgiving, that’s a choice. When I over eat, refuse to exercise, text while I drive it’s not the fault of the person who wronged me or the person who made the good food or the cell phone company. If I sin, I’m the one to blame. Not Satan, not God, not you. Me.

The good news is that when God allows temptation to come (He is never the source of temptation) He will also provide a way of escape if we ask Him. His desire is to see us succeed, not to see us fail.

Those of us who struggle with addictions know all too well the struggle of giving in to temptation. Whatever that addiction is (alcohol, drugs, cigarettes, pornography, food) we want in the worst way to resist and yet we find ourselves giving in over and over again.

If you struggle with sin (if you think you don’t you are in denial) let me remind you that the same Paul who wrote to the Corinthians to say that every temptation has an escape, also wrote to the Romans to say that the very things he wants to do he doesn’t do and the things he hates doing he finds himself doing.

In Jesus Christ we have hope. Jesus’ desire is to walk with you through temptation so that you can see victory in those areas of your life that seem out of control. Be patient with yourself. Know your enemy. Plan your escape through Jesus.

PRAYER: Dear Jesus. You alone know the struggle I have with giving in. It seems no matter how hard I try I can’t have victory over the things I hate doing. I thank you for your forgiveness and patience with me. Thank you for giving me second and third and fourth chances. I ask that you would help me to battle the habits and actions that plague me daily. Help me look to you for the victory I need. Empower me through your Holy Spirit to resist the temptations as they attack me. In Your name I pray, Amen.

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