S53P6 – A picture of temptation: our spiritual skill set

2 Pet. 1:3-7

His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love.

In her mind, the dream was pretty small.  She did not aspire to be a world-renowned concert pianist; she only wanted to play in the talent show and perhaps accompany the choir with her song.  With this objective in mind, she showed up for her first lesson with music in hand. She met her teacher and said that she wanted to learn to play that song. To her surprise, weeks of lessons went by without her teacher even asking to see her sheet music.  She learned scales and tempo and how to use the pedals.  She learned a little music theory and a glossary of music notation.  Eventually, she asked why she could not simply learn the song she wanted to learn and bypass the rest.  Her teacher wisely explained that one cannot play that song without first building the necessary underlying skills.  The ability to play the song would come naturally if she first simply learned how to play the instrument.

The war against sin is fought in many small battles.  I think sometimes we see our struggles against temptation as something that we endure in a vacuum.  We may see them as momentary occurrences that are separate or unrelated from much of the rest of our spiritual lives.  That, however, cannot be further from the truth.  Today’s scripture gives us an underlying skill set that will greatly help us in overcoming temptation. In this list we see self-control and steadfastness.  These are necessary if we are to extinguish the flaming arrows of the enemy and remain faithful to God during those battles.  This scripture shows us how so many spiritual attributes come together to build in us what we need to attain the victory against temptation.  It is not as simple as asking how we can avoid sin and then executing a single plan; this is not a one-time lesson. We first must endure a course of building the necessary components of that skill set.  Once we have that skill set, declining sin will come naturally.

Remaining faithful to God is not a singular action that we perform.  Our faithfulness to him is a combination of spiritual disciplines that we practice over and over so that they can work together in us to bring about that faithfulness.  In God’s mercy, He does not leave us to discover this method on our own.  He outlines specifically what we must allow to be built within us to remain enemies of sinful desire.  Let us review this list with honesty and sincerity, and ask the father to reveal to us what we must further develop in ourselves.  Let us be open to God bringing about this growth in us and in his Church.  Father, direct us in building in ourselves the spiritual skill set needed to remain faithful to you during times of temptation.