Posts tagged: temptation

Seedling: Have You Given Permission?

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By Paula Marolewski, January 17, 2010 4:29 pm

“I cannot kill it against your will. It is impossible. Have I your permission?” – C.S. Lewis, The Great Divorce

In C.S. Lewis’ novel The Great Divorce, there is a scene where an angel confronts a man tormented by lust, which is represented as a lizard perched on the man’s shoulder. The man wants to be free of the lust – which the angel says he can help him accomplish – but at first he tries to make excuses for keeping the lizard. In the course of his argument with the angel, he exclaims, “If you wanted to help me, why didn’t you kill the damned thing without asking me – before I knew? It would all be over by now if you had.”

It is at that point that the angel says clearly, “I cannot kill it against your will. It is impossible. Have I your permission?”

There is a very great lesson here: God cannot and will not free us from sin unless we ourselves want to be freed. It isn’t enough to say, “Oh, if only I didn’t struggle with <fill in the blank>!” … if we keep on making excuses to continue in our course every time God offers to help us conquer our sin.

Do I sometimes wish God would override my free will “for my own good”? Yes, I do. But then I realize why he will never do so: he values me too much. He values my partnership in this journey called life. He values my love. He values my trust. He values my identity. He wants to pour out his power and grace and love and Spirit in my life, but he wants me to be an integral part of that outpouring. For that reason, he will not force himself on me, but is waiting patiently for my permission … and with it, my cooperation and submission … so that he can act on my behalf.

  • What sins are you struggling with regularly?
  • Do you want to be freed from these sins? Be completely honest. If you don’t really want to be free of one or more of these sins, why not?
  • How have you been cooperating with God to overcome these sins? How have you been hindering his work in your life?
  • Spend time in confession and repentance, and give God permission to do whatever is necessary to help you grow in holiness.


Copyright © 2010, Paula J. Marolewski. All rights reserved.

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Temptation: A Necessary Preparation for Ministry?

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By Paula Marolewski, August 18, 2009 2:03 pm

This morning, I read of Jesus’ temptation, as recorded in Luke 4. Consider these verses (1-2, 13-14):

“Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led around by the Spirit in the wilderness for forty days, being tempted by the devil …. When the devil had finished every temptation, he left Him until an opportune time.  And Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit …”

Sometimes, I think we forget that Jesus wasn’t tempted with just the specific temptations recorded in the gospels. Those three trials were the culmination of over a month of hellish whispers. He was tempted continuously for forty days – Satan tried everything, the above passage notes. And in Hebrews 4:15, it affirms that Jesus was “tempted in all things.”

But the Holy Spirit brackets the temptation – Jesus was led by the Spirit into this time of testing, and he was filled with the Spirit upon his successful completion of it. And I paused to consider: does God often, or perhaps even always, allow this period of extreme temptation prior to launching a new ministry?

It does make sense. Temptation is a test – not of the mind, but of the heart. It reveals our answers to questions such as:

  • Do I trust God even when life seems to be falling apart?
  • Will I obey God even when nobody is watching?
  • Am I engaging in this ministry for fame and fortune, or for grace and goodness?
  • Do I have the determination to persevere through difficulties?
  • What or who am I relying on to see me through life?

If you are trying to launch a new ministry, don’t be surprised if you experience delay, doubt, temptation, trial, despair … in fact, a spiritual desert. I know what the wasteland looks like. I know it seems endless, and that you’re hungry for God, thirsty for his Spirit, longing for the touch of Jesus.

The Spirit of God may have led you to this very place, and done so for a very distinct purpose. Trust him. Persevere. Purge your life of sin. Pray without ceasing. Rely entirely upon God and his Word. When you are led out into the place of ministry, it will be “in the power of the Spirit.”


© 2009 Paula Marolewski

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