The Challenge of ‘Living No Lies’
Today, I would like to share some insights from a book and discuss the fundamental questions about living righteously: Is it necessary to struggle against the temptations of the flesh and the world? If it is, how can we do so effectively?
The book is called “Live No Lies” by John Mark Comer, and it’s about how to overcome the three main sources of deception and temptation in our lives: the world, the flesh and the devil.
According to the book, the world is the system of values and beliefs that is opposed to God and his kingdom. It’s the culture that tells us what is normal, acceptable and desirable, but often contradicts God’s truth and design. The flesh is our fallen nature, our sinful desires and impulses that lead us away from God and his will. The devil is the enemy of God and his people, the father of lies who seeks to deceive, accuse and destroy us. These three enemies are constantly at work in our lives, trying to lure us into a false reality that is contrary to God’s reality. They want us to live in bondage, fear and misery, instead of freedom, love and joy. They want us to miss out on God’s best for us, and settle for less than what he has planned for us.
So How Do We Overcome These ‘Enemies’?
How do we live in the truth and resist lies? How do we align our lives with God’s reality and purpose? Well, the book offers many tips and strategies, but I want to focus on a couple of passages of Scripture that summarize it very well. The first one is from 1 Thessalonians 5:12-24:
“Now we ask you, brothers and sisters, to acknowledge those who work hard among you, who care for you in the Lord and who admonish you. Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other. And we urge you, brothers and sisters, to warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone. Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else. Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not treat prophecies with contempt but test them all; hold on to what is good, reject every kind of evil. May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.”
The Apostle Paul provides in Romans 12:9-21 a list of practical instructions for how to live a virtuous life. This list includes things like loving others, blessing those who persecute you, and overcoming evil with good. These instructions suggest that living a virtuous life requires self-control and discipline in order to act in accordance with God’s will, even in difficult circumstances.
Possible With Practice For Humans:
I examined the problem and the recommendations with a critical eye. I was tempted to classify them into possible and impossible, based on their feasibility and effectiveness. Here is the list of recommended actions that are in the category of possible. But I was able to rate myself only a dismal 10% on these recommendations! But it is not a reason to despair if we view them as worthy goals to be sought and not the end results to be accomplished at some point.
|Recommendation||Current Personal Level|
|Acknowledge those who work hard among you||10%|
|Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work||10%|
|Live in peace with each other||10%|
|Encourage the disheartened||10%|
|Be patient with everyone||10%|
|Give thanks in all circumstances||10%|
|Hold on to what is good||10%|
|Warn those who are idle and disruptive||10%|
|Help the weak||10%|
Desirable But Impossible For Humans:
In Thessalonians 5:19, “Do not quench the Spirit” means that we should not suppress or stifle the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. To quench the Spirit is to despise the supernatural work of the Spirit and treat it with contempt. It is to live with our own preferences rather than believing and living God’s precepts. It also means that we should not believe false things and abstain from evil. I have decided to put these under the category of desirable, but impossible.
- Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong
- Do not quench the Spirit
What Is A Practical Good Way? An Exploration With Insights From Christianity, Buddhism And Stoicism
The question of whether one should struggle against the temptations of the flesh and the world has been a matter of debate for centuries. While some argue that indulging in worldly pleasures is natural and necessary for human happiness, others maintain that it is important to resist these temptations in order to live a virtuous life.
Everything is Possible, But Everything Is Not Good
The biblical idea that everything is possible but not everything is good comes from 1 Corinthians 10:23, where Paul says, “All things are lawful, but not all things are helpful. All things are lawful, but not all things build up.” This passage suggests that there may be many things that we are technically able to do, but not all of them are good for us or for others.
In other words, just because something is possible or allowed, it does not mean that it is necessarily beneficial or constructive. As human beings, we have the freedom to make choices and to act in various ways, but we also have a responsibility to consider the consequences of our actions and to act in ways that promote the greater good.
The idea that everything is possible but not everything is good reflects the biblical emphasis on moral discernment and wisdom. Rather than simply following rules or laws, believers are called to exercise discernment and wisdom in their decision-making, taking into account the broader context and the potential impact of their actions on themselves and others.
Overall, the idea that everything is possible but not everything is good encourages believers to think critically and carefully about their actions, and to act in ways that promote the greater good rather than just their own self-interest.
Biblical Perspective – Self-control And Discipline Are Not Solely A Matter Of Human Effort, But Are Also Supported By The Power And Guidance Of The Holy Spirit
From a biblical perspective, the Bible teaches that humans are sinful and prone to temptation. The apostle Paul wrote in Romans 7:18-19, “For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing.” Thus, the Bible teaches that the flesh is weak and that humans should strive to resist temptation.
Galatians 5:24, it says, “And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” In Matthew 5:29-30, Jesus says, “If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell.” In Romans 8:5-8, Paul contrasts the mindset of the flesh with the mindset of the Spirit. He argues that the mindset of the flesh is hostile to God and cannot please God, while the mindset of the Spirit is life and peace. In Romans 8:17-18, Paul speaks about suffering in the context of being co-heirs with Christ. He argues that believers share in Christ’s sufferings in order to share in his glory. In Romans 12:1-2, Paul urges believers to present their bodies as a living sacrifice, to not conform to the world, and to renew their minds. In Romans 13:11-14, Paul urges believers to put on the armor of light and to cast off the works of darkness. In Romans 14, Paul also addresses the issue of self-control in the context of disputes between believers.
These verses suggest a strong emphasis on self-discipline and self-control in order to resist temptation and avoid sin.
In Romans 8:26-27, Paul also speaks about the role of the Spirit in helping believers in their weakness. He argues that the Spirit intercedes for believers with groanings too deep for words, and that the Spirit helps believers to pray and to align their desires with God’s will. This passage suggests that self-control and discipline are not solely a matter of human effort, but are also supported by the power and guidance of the Holy Spirit.
On the other hand, the worldly view tends to promote the pursuit of pleasure, success, and material possessions as the key to a fulfilling life. This view emphasizes the importance of satisfying one’s desires and achieving personal goals, often at the expense of others.
Buddhism is a non-theistic religion that originated in India in the 6th and 5th centuries BCE1. It was founded by Siddhartha Gautama (the Buddha) who lived in India from roughly 563 BCE to 480 BCE. Today, Buddhism is practiced in many countries around the world including China, Japan, Thailand, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos, Mongolia, Bhutan, Nepal and Tibet, although with variations of the original ideas.
In Buddhism, the concept of “resisting” temptations is approached differently than in Christianity. Rather than seeing temptation as a battle to be won or lost, Buddhism teaches the practice of mindfulness and awareness as a means of understanding the nature of cravings and desires, and ultimately letting them go.
According to Buddhist teachings, suffering arises from attachment and clinging to things that are impermanent. Therefore, the practice of Buddhism involves cultivating a mindset of non-attachment and non-grasping, which means not clinging to things that cause suffering, including worldly desires and pleasures.
Instead of resisting temptations, Buddhist teachings encourage individuals to understand the nature of their desires, and to develop awareness and self-control in order to not be ruled by them. This is achieved through the practice of meditation, which helps to cultivate mindfulness and awareness of one’s thoughts and feelings, as well as through the cultivation of positive qualities such as compassion, generosity, and kindness.
Stoicism was a popular school of philosophy for around 500 years during its prime in ancient Greece and the Roman Empire1. The first of the Stoics began teaching in Athens in the 3rd Century BCE, spearheaded by Zeno of Citium. Some of Rome’s greatest philosophers such as Seneca, Epictetus, and Emperor Marcus Aurelius all called themselves Stoics.
The philosophy of the Stoics was founded in ancient Greece and was influential throughout the Roman Empire. The Stoics believed in living in accordance with nature and developing personal virtue, which they believed would lead to a life of inner peace and fulfillment.
In terms of approaching the dilemma of resisting temptation, the Stoics emphasized the importance of developing self-control and discipline. They believed that individuals should strive to live in harmony with the natural order of things and should not be ruled by their passions or desires.
The Stoics viewed temptation as a natural part of human experience, but one that could be overcome through the cultivation of reason and self-control. They believed that individuals should focus on developing their inner virtues, such as wisdom, courage, and justice, rather than on external desires or pleasures.
According to Stoic philosophy, individuals should strive to live in accordance with their own nature, which means not being swayed by external circumstances or desires. They believed that by cultivating a sense of inner tranquility and developing the ability to endure hardships, individuals could live a life of inner peace and fulfillment.
How Does Stoicism Compare With Buddhism In The Ideas About Resisting Temptation?
While Stoicism and Buddhism share some similarities in their approach to resisting temptation, there are also some key differences.
Both Stoicism and Buddhism emphasize the importance of cultivating inner virtues and developing self-control as a means of resisting temptation. The Stoics believed that individuals should focus on developing their inner virtues, such as wisdom, courage, and justice, in order to resist the temptation of external desires or pleasures. Similarly, in Buddhism, the cultivation of mindfulness and awareness is seen as a means of understanding the nature of desires and ultimately letting them go.
However, the two philosophies differ in their approach to the nature of desire and attachment. Stoicism views desire and attachment as natural and necessary parts of human experience, but believes that individuals should not be ruled by them. Buddhism, on the other hand, views desire and attachment as the root cause of suffering, and teaches the practice of non-attachment and non-grasping in order to overcome suffering.
Additionally, Stoicism places a greater emphasis on personal responsibility and the idea of “virtue ethics”, which means that individuals should focus on developing their own character and moral excellence. Buddhism, on the other hand, places a greater emphasis on the idea of interdependence and the interconnectedness of all beings, and emphasizes compassion and altruism as a means of overcoming suffering.
In summary, while both Stoicism and Buddhism share some similarities in their approach to resisting temptation, they differ in their understanding of the nature of desire and attachment, and their emphasis on personal responsibility and interdependence.
How Does Stoicism Compare With Christianity In The Ideas About Resisting Temptation and Shaping One’s Destiny?
The hypothesis that Jesus and Paul were practitioners of stoicism has been a topic of debate among scholars for many years. While there is some evidence to suggest that they were influenced by stoic philosophy, there is also evidence to suggest that their teachings differed significantly from stoic principles.
One of the key arguments in favor of the hypothesis is the similarity between some of Jesus’ teachings and stoic ideas. For example, both Jesus and the stoics emphasized the importance of living a virtuous life, and both stressed the need to focus on one’s inner life rather than on external circumstances. Additionally, some of Paul’s letters contain passages that appear to reflect stoic ideas, such as the concept of living in accordance with nature.
However, there are also significant differences between Jesus and Paul’s teachings and stoic philosophy. For example, stoicism taught that reason and logic were the keys to achieving inner peace and tranquility, while Jesus and Paul emphasized the importance of faith and trust in God. Additionally, stoicism focused on the idea that the universe was deterministic, while Jesus and Paul taught that individuals had the ability to make choices and shape their own destiny.
Mindfulness and Self Control are the Keys, Resonating in Biblical, Stoic, and Buddhist World Views, But Bible Also Offers Something More…
Ultimately, the decision to resist temptation is a personal one that depends on one’s values and beliefs. However, by finding a balance between indulgence and restraint, individuals can strive to live a virtuous and fulfilling life.
In practical terms, it is important to find a balance between these two perspectives. While it is important to enjoy the pleasures of life, it is equally important to exercise self-control and discipline. One can strive to find enjoyment in healthy, fulfilling activities while avoiding excessive indulgence. This requires self-awareness, setting boundaries, and making conscious choices.
According to the Bible, the fruits of the spirit are love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. These attributes are inspired by the Holy Spirit living within Christians. In Galatians 5:22-23, self-control is listed as one of the fruits of the spirit, and in 2 Timothy 1:7, it is said that “God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.”
Some of the practical steps for achieving a balance are the following:
- Developing self-awareness: By understanding one’s own triggers and vulnerabilities, individuals can better anticipate and avoid situations that might lead to temptation.
- Practicing self-control: By developing discipline and willpower, individuals can resist the urge to indulge in temptations and maintain their commitment to their values and goals.
- Cultivating mindfulness: By practicing mindfulness meditation, individuals can develop greater awareness of their thoughts and feelings, which can help them recognize and resist temptations as they arise.
- Seeking support: By enlisting the help of friends, family members, or support groups, individuals can receive encouragement and accountability to stay true to their commitments.
- Overcoming Weaknesses through Spirit-led Intercession (Bible believers)
- In Romans 8:26-27, Paul speaks about the role of the Holy Spirit in helping believers overcome their weaknesses and exercise self-control. Practitioners can apply this teaching by engaging in spirit-led intercession, which involves praying in the Spirit and allowing the Holy Spirit to guide their prayers.
- To start, practitioners can seek a quiet place where they can focus on God’s presence and invite the Holy Spirit to lead their prayers. They can start with worship and praise, focusing on the greatness and goodness of God. As they begin to pray, they can invite the Holy Spirit to guide their thoughts and words, allowing Him to intercede on their behalf with groanings too deep for words.
- Charismatic prayer can also be helpful in this process. Practitioners can pray in tongues or engage in other forms of spontaneous prayer, allowing the Holy Spirit to guide their words and thoughts. This type of prayer can help practitioners to align their desires with God’s will and to gain greater self-control over their thoughts and actions.
- Through spirit-led intercession, practitioners can overcome their weaknesses and exercise greater self-control. By relying on the guidance and power of the Holy Spirit, they can align their desires with God’s will and overcome the temptations of the flesh.