It’s been a little while since I have had a chance to post anything. This last month has been pretty busy for me. Not too long ago, I posted an article on snow as a picture of God’s grace, I would like to continue that thought, but from a different perspective.
A Snowy Covering
Currently, I live in an area that sees a fair amount of snow each winter. Not too long ago, we had a big snowstorm with an accumulation of around ten inches of heavy, wet snow. I enjoyed being inside a warm building and watching it fall from the window. Everything as far as my eyes could see was covered in a beautiful blanket of white. If I looked more closely, I could make out the forms of cars, buildings, and other objects, but they were hidden under the layer of white frozen water crystals.
Snow is a beautiful reminder of God’s grace. As I mentioned in my other post, snow is a picture of God’s forgiveness as Jesus cleanses and makes the sinner “white as snow” (Isaiah 1:18). When God looks at the believer, He sees Christ’s righteousness and not the individual’s sin. For the one who has trusted in Jesus as Savior, God’s grace is not only present in salvation, but His grace covers every aspect of daily life. As the believer goes through various trials and temptations, God gives His grace and His strength to the believer so that he or she has the ability to respond in a manner that pleases the Lord.
God’s Grace in Trials
As one goes through life, God allows various trials or difficulties to come into the believer’s life for the purpose of growing and strengthening him or her. Trials are for the purpose of refining the believer so that he will reveal Christ.
1 Peter 1:6-7 says, “In this [salvation] you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ;”
The apostle James said this concerning trials, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (James 1:2-4).
God’s ultimate purpose in the believer’s life is to conform him to the image of Christ. He uses even the difficulties and trials and He can “work them together for good” for His glory (Romans 8:28-29). God also gives strength and comfort in the midst of trials so that we are able to help others.
2 Corinthians 1:3-4 says, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”
When one goes through trial or difficulty, the believer can rest assured that God is with him in it. Jesus promises never to leave or forsake His children (Hebrews 13:5). The key for the believer is to focus on the Lord and trust Him in the trial, rather than on the trial itself.
God’s Grace in Temptations
Though trials may have a temptation, and though temptations are a form of a trial, there is a difference between them. A temptation is a provocation to sin, whereas a trial is any form of difficulty or trouble. God desires all believers to live righteously and not sin. He promises,
“No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it” (1 Corinthians 10:13, ESV).
There are times in life that the believer will sin, 1 John 2:1 reminds us, “My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.”
One of the keys to resisting sin is to focus on the Lord, instead of the sin you are trying to avoid. When someone tells you not to do something, the natural desire is to want to do what was just forbidden. You may not have even been thinking about it before, but the command may cause you to desire it.
God gave Israel many commands that He wanted them to follow. Most of these are recorded in the first five books of the Old Testament. Romans 7 explains the relationship between the law and sin. The law was given to teach what sin is, and to show that man is a sinner. For the believer, it also causes a battle between the desires of the natural sinful flesh, and the desires of the new nature, that each believer is given at salvation, which desires to pleases God. Paul ends Romans 7 with this conflict:
“For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin” (Romans 7:19-25, ESV).
Paul turns his focus to Jesus who alone can deliver! In chapter 8 of Romans, Paul continues by explaining how one is to live righteously. There is a great deal of wonderful truth in this chapter, and far too much to go into detail here, so I will summarize part of it and you can go read it on your own. Paul focuses on what Christ has done. Christ won the victory through His death and resurrection. He reminds them that if they have accepted this truth, they are in Christ, and children of God, and they have the Holy Spirit to help them to live obediently. Paul focused on who Christ was, what He had done, and who these people as believers were. He challenged them to live godly lives based on these truths.
I believe that one of the keys in dealing with temptation is not to fill your mind constantly with what the prohibition is, but rather to fill your mind with God’s Truth concerning that area. Obedience is motivated by relationship. When you love a person, you will want to please him or her. Study the Scripture, spend time with the Lord in prayer, love and serve others, and when love for the Lord is the focus, you will find it easier to be obedient in all areas.
What do you see?
God, in His grace, enables the believer to live a life pleasing to Him. As the snow covers objects with its whiteness, in a similar way, God’s grace covers the trials and temptations we face. Though the outline of the object is often visible beneath the snow, its details are obscured. Often, one can still make out the “shape” of the trial, but the believer doesn’t need to dwell on it because instead, he can to look to Christ. When the believer focuses on who God is and what He has done, the details of the trial are obscured because of his or her perspective. Jesus understands trials and pain, but Hebrews 12:2 reminds one to look unto Jesus. It says, “Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (NASB). The next time you see snow or a picture of it, think of God’s grace and remember to focus on Him, rather than the trials you may be experiencing.