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Greg Laurie is the author of 12 inspirational books, which are available online.
When I play tennis, which is about once every 10 years, I always play to win. But frankly, I usually lose. At least I will get a point here and there. Years ago, I was playing tennis with a fellow pastor who is a good player. He has a wicked serve that leaves you thinking, Did a ball just go by here, or what? My serve, on the other hand, was pathetic. So when my time to serve would come, he would return it with ease and make another point. So I thought, There is no way that I can beat him on my serve. I can’t return his serve. How can I even score a point? But I began to notice that when I would lob the ball to the far side of the court, it would take him a little longer to get there than it took me. So I started lobbing the ball in that direction. I scored a few points, but he still won the game.
The same happens with us as we try to follow Jesus Christ.
As surely as there is a God, there is also a devil, who seeks to exploit our weaknesses. He looks for our vulnerabilities, and when he finds them, where do you think he starts lobbing the temptations? Toward our weak spots, of course.
This was Samson’s problem. You remember him?
He was that Old Testament Superman with super-human strength.
Because he was such a formidable adversary, he thought no one could ever take him down. So the devil was clever and found Samson’s vulnerability. He did not bring him down on the battlefield; he brought him down in the bedroom. Samson was a he-man with a she weakness. So who brought him down? A foxy little dish named Delilah, that’s who. In fact, she was very straightforward about her intentions. She came to him and said, “Please tell me where your great strength lies, and with what you may be bound to afflict you.” (Judges 16:6 NKJV) That would be the first clue that this was not a good relationship.
But Samson thought it was a joke. Every time she asked him the question, he got a little closer to the truth until one day, he told her the secret of his strength: “No razor has ever come upon my head, for I have been a Nazirite to God from my mother’s womb. If I am shaven, then my strength will leave me, and I shall become weak, and be like any other man.” (verse 17 NKJV) So what do you think happened? He fell asleep in her lap. Talk about sleeping with the enemy. He took a one-way trip to Delilah’s Barber Shop. He woke up with a new haircut, and the rest is history.
Or take the Apostle Peter. He was so full of pride. After Jesus told His disciples that one of them would betray Him, meaning Judas Iscariot, Peter said, “Even if all are made to stumble, yet I will not be.” (Mark 14:29 NKJV) But Jesus answered, “Assuredly, I say to you that today, even this night, before the rooster crows twice, you will deny Me three times.” (verse 30 NKJV) Peter insisted, “If I have to die with You, I will not deny You!” (verse 31 NKJV) Wow. Peter was saying, in so many words, that Jesus didn’t know what He was talking about.
But consider the Old Testament hero Joseph, who when tempted by Potiphar’s wife, was smart. He knew he was weak, so he ran. He got out of there as quickly as he could. He realized that all sin was against God. He told her, “How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?” (Genesis 39:9 NKJV) That should be our strongest deterrent against sin – not merely our fear of what might happen if we get caught (although that is not a bad deterrent either, frankly). God has called us to a higher standard, and His standards don’t change.
The Bible says, “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” (Proverbs 16:18 NKJV) The devil is going to size you up and try to find your vulnerability. Then that is where he is going to hit you. So don’t ever say, “I maybe will fall in this area, but I will never fall in that one.” You could fall even there. Even in the place where you think you are the strongest you could fall. And so could I. We need to know that about ourselves.
That is why we need to do what Joseph did: We need to flee temptation and not leave a forwarding address. And we need to remember that every temptation is an opportunity to flee to God.