“And when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from him until an opportune time” (Luke 4:13 ESV).
Do you remember the story of the temptation of Jesus. In Luke’s account he points out that the devil left off tempting Jesus “until an opportune time.” I can identify with this tactic. I’ve had times in my life, as you, I’m sure, have as well, when I have been strong spiritually and temptation was extinguished handily by faith. Then, when life found me struggling, the very same temptations returned and I gave in.
An opportune time.
We’ve all heard of the proverbial “ambulance chasers,” lawyers looking to capitalize on everyone’s misfortune. And antique dealers who hover around the old and dying, hoping to capitalize on rock-bottom prices at the estate sale. In the animal world, they’re called ambush predators. They lie in wait to claim their victims when least expected. They prey upon the weak, as they put up less of a fight.
In Genesis 4, God speaks with Cain about his unacceptable offering. Cain was angry. God said to him, “If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. It’s desire is contrary to you, but you must rule over it” (Genesis 4:7 ESV). Classic predatory imagery. It’s been my experience that, like predatory animals, the devil probes for weaknesses. When he finds one, he waits for an opportune time to exploit it.
I am well acquainted with my weaknesses. And one such weakness is failing to shore up my weaknesses. I want what I want and that is my problem.
“What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”? But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.’ Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:1-2, 5-7 ESV).
The hungry predator that is lying in wait, crouching at your door, will not just go away. It’s on a mission. But the Word says that if we yield ourselves to God, exchanging our wants and desires for His, and oppose the enemy, he’ll run away! And in the Genesis passage we read that we can rule over him. No, we must rule over him.
We’ve looked at how the devil is waiting for an opportune time to attack us. But our opportune time is now. Now is the time when we must learn to turn our selfish desires over to God through Jesus, and acquire His loving desires as our own. The only way to ensure a successful fight against temptation is to have everything we want become everything Jesus is.
“For he says, ‘In a favorable time I listened to you, and in a day of salvation I have helped you.’ Behold, now is the favorable (even opportune) time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2 ESV parenthetical mine).
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