Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Testing, Temptation and Lord of the Rings

Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. - Matthew 4:4 (NKJV)

As the Holy Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil, so God will lead us to a place where the devil will tempt us to test us through out our lives.

Testing builds character for us to live a Godly life of love towards God and others.

Any one who has a natural talent, a passionate hobby or life goal has figured out that to be the best at that goal they must build that skill by training and practice.

And not all the training and practice needed to be the best is always pleasant. But many times the discipline needed to become the best is very grueling, just ask any world class athlete.

The same goes with our spiritual life. We must train and practice the principles that Jesus sets forth in his teaching throughout the Bible. One of the training techniques that God uses is testing through temptation. Testing through temptation doesn't always means tempted by ugly sins of the flesh, testing can be through the sins of not obeying what God commands us to do. It can be through knowing what God requires and taking a different path. When we fail to follow through we are in sin as well. We fail the test.

Failing the test doesn't mean we are done, down and out for the count. For Example, Frodo in the Lord of the rings fails the test, he succumbs to the powerful temptations to keep the One Ring instead of destroying it in the fires of Mount Doom in Mordor. But it didn't end there. Another player, Gollum, through his desire to have the One Ring, tried to take it from Frodo. The One Ring fell into the fiery chasm form whence it came, as did Gollum, but Frodo lived to see another day. He went on to pass other tests, though less dramatic, til he went to the great land beyond.

While Gollum did pay the ultimate price of loosing his life for his failing the test, this was only because he was too far gone at this point in his life to turn around (Repentance), he desired the temptation more than he wanted to change and this was his last and final test to fail or deny his strongest life temptation and be redeemed and have new life (Born Again).

Also, to take the analogy to the next level, Frodo would be equivalent of the believer in Christ who has already decided to turn their life towards God (Repentance) and has been redeemed and has new life (Born Again). Gollum, on the other hand, would be like the unbeliever who has not decided to turn from a sinful life towards God (Repentance) and hasn't been redeemed and received new life (Born Again).

Frodo's choice, while bad doesn't lead to eternal death, only earthly torment and sorrow at failing the test. Gollum's test, as the unbeliever, was to pass the test of deciding to walk away from a sinful life (repentance) by denying his sinful nature and therefore being redeemed and be given new life (Born Again).

Finally, for those who decided to turn for a sinful life (repented) have accepted Christ as their Lord and Savior, who took their deserved punishment for them so that they may have eternal life with God (Born Again), life is full of tests to grow us up into the creatures God wants us to be: Loving, Mature, Wise and the list goes on and on.

The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say.
~ Bilbo Baggins - Lord of the Rings (J.R.R. Tolkien)

Remember these tests, though they may be unpleasant, are for our good. Do not fear them, because they are sent to us by God to us grow, to mature us and to build our character.

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. 4 But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. - James 1:3-4 (NKJV)

That verse sums it up, and can be paraphrased as:  Be Patient, and let the work of trials be completed so that you may be mature (perfect), and complete and lacking nothing. This is a life long process, because we will never be perfect while on this earth. There will be trials and testing but there is also great Joy if we continue to abide in Him, who is the Savior, Jesus.

And, finally for the person who has not decided to turn form a life of sin (Repented) and put their faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior (become Born Again), you can do so right now right here before the Creator of you and all the universe.

All you have to do is decide to walk away from a sinful life and Accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior who took the punishment you deserved so that you can live forever in pure Ecstasy with the Creator of the Universe. Remember repenting means you decide to walk or turn away, not be perfect and never sin again, which is impossible. So if this touches your heart and you have come to believe, and you take this step then welcome to the family.

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