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Filing a Flight Plan

posted Apr 24, 2017, 4:00 PM by Kelly Griffin
The comedienne, Rita Rudner, once said, “I’ve never been good with math. So whenever I got a math test, I’d just write, ‘I’m going to marry someone who can do this.’” It’s good to have a strategy for math.

It’s good to have a strategy for life, too. A lot of the difficulties we face are a result of bad decisions on our part. But, the Bible teaches we have some help urging us toward those bad decisions that necessitates a strategy.

That’s where our Creator can help. God’s Word not only offers forgiveness for those who put their trust in Jesus Christ; it also offers strategic advice for living up to the family name.

The Bible defines three great enemies that can destroy lives – the world, the flesh and the Devil.

The Devil is presented as a real, personal, spirit being with power to influence lives (see Job 1-2; Daniel 10; Luke 22; Luke 4 and many others), but always within limits imposed by God Himself (I Cor 10:13). The strategy for dealing with him: Fight. James 4:7b says, “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” Fight him; resist his temptation through the use of God’s Word as exemplified by Jesus in Luke 4.

“World” is a term the Bible uses in a number of ways including to describe the anti-God worldviews, philosophies, and immoral lifestyle temptations coming from outside us. James 4:4b warns, “Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God?” The strategy for overcoming the world is: Faith. I John 5:4: “And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.” This is not a blind faith but one that puts God at the center of things and provides better and more rational answers for “how things are” than explanations, which leave God out of the equation.

Then there is the flesh – the human nature we are born with that typically wants its own way and can rationalize almost any means necessary to get it. This is temptation from the inside, including things like greed, covetousness, jealousy, lust, anger and the like.

So what is the strategy for meeting these temptations? Fight the desire? Pray? Quote Scripture? Meditate? Get an accountability partner? Group therapy? Any of those might help, but God’s very practical advice is: Flee! “So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness” (II Timothy 2:22). How unexpected, yet practical.

I Corinthians 6:18 targets a specific desire: “Flee from sexual immorality.” Flee it. Run. Plan ahead to avoid the temptation.

Like Joseph, in Genesis 39. Sold into slavery in Egypt by his brothers, Joseph eventually found himself running the household of the second most powerful man in Egypt. But Potiphar was away from home a lot. Joseph was easy on the eyes, being “handsome in form and appearance.” Soon a housewife who was “desperate” before her time had singled him out. Presumably she was also beautiful and represented a great temptation.

Yet Joseph consistently resisted her advances until one fateful day when “she caught him by his garment, saying, ‘Lie with me!’ And he left his garment in her hand and fled, and went outside” (Gen 39:12) – a very literal application of God’s advice in the New Testament.

Of course, we cannot avoid every single possible temptation of the flesh. But we can avoid the people, places and media that attack our personal Achilles heel. The point is -- have a flight plan for the desires we know take us down.

Take a page from Billy Graham who made it a point never to be alone with a woman other than his wife – mostly to avoid the possibility of a vicious lie, but also in recognition of his own humanness. Prayer never hurts; but when it comes to the flesh, have a flight plan. It will pay rich dividends.

Published in The Tribune on April 29, 2017