Will your convictions crack under pressure?

Patricia Holbrook of Soaring With Him Ministries

Credit: Handout

Credit: Handout

Patricia Holbrook of Soaring With Him Ministries

“Your convictions are only as strong as they hold up under pressure.” — Streams in the Desert devotional

Several years ago, our pastor presented the acronym “H.A.L.T.” while preaching about the importance of maintaining a balanced lifestyle and sound mind, especially before making important decisions. The sermon stressed the importance of thinking before acting, especially when people experience extreme Hunger, Anger, Loneliness, or when they are Tired.

I’ve never forgotten the acronym — it has indeed become a valuable tool that I’ve used many times before jumping into action or speaking out of impulse.

Hunger. Anger. Loneliness. Weariness — hundreds of studies have been conducted about the effects of these sensations or emotions in the human body. Whether they impact our physical or emotional well-being, no question conquering them or surrendering to the impulses they generate can be the difference between success or defeat, peace of mind or turmoil.

In the fourth chapter of the gospel of Matthew, we find a perfect illustration of how Jesus overcame temptation at a time of great hunger, loneliness and weariness. In that chapter, Jesus had left Galilee after his baptism in the Jordan River and entered the Judean wilderness, where he stayed for 40 days without food or water in preparation for the onset of his ministry. The same account is in the Gospels of Luke and Mark.

After 40 days, the Gospels tell that Satan appeared to tempt Jesus, offering three things: food, possessions and power. With each statement, the devil tried to lure Jesus into denying and disobeying God, at a time when his body was weak. For each temptation, however, Jesus debunked his enemy by quoting passages in the book of Deuteronomy. As a result, St. Matthew writes that Satan “left him, and angels came to attend him.”

The following chapters of Jesus' story tell the significance of the wilderness experience. Jesus went back to Galilee, where he started his ministry by selecting his disciples, teaching in synagogues and healing the sick. Wherever he went, his miracles displayed the power that could have freed him from the wilderness temptations and hardships. And yet, because the wilderness had a purpose and obedience was the only way to fulfill it, he chose the “road less traveled.” His convictions overpowered the temptations and weaknesses every time.

The account of the temptation of Jesus has been widely used by writers and preachers through the ages to teach Christians that Jesus modeled the secret to overcoming our weaknesses: God’s word. I wholeheartedly agree that anchoring our hearts in Scriptures is undoubtedly a way to remain committed to obeying him.

But the truth is, many of us have met people who know the Bible and can quote Scriptures like nobody’s business, and yet, have fallen into deep sin, often wrecking their lives and the lives of people who followed and believed them.

I believe that happens because many people underestimate the power of the flesh, often making bad decisions when they’re too weak to stand firm in their convictions or by getting too close to things that have the power to become strongholds in their lives.

We all know our Achilles' heel. We just often choose to ignore it. As a result, if we are not careful, seemingly innocent situations or choices can become mammoth strongholds, with the power to utterly destroy our lives.

Jesus used God’s word to defeat the Tempter. But beyond that, he knew Satan’s objective: to destroy God’s purpose for his life. His confidence that God had a plan was more compelling than any appetite. He quoted Scriptures because its truths were so ingrained in his heart that nothing would sway him away from his destiny. Likewise, our unwavering convictions may be the only wall standing between giving in to temptation or remaining committed to obeying and trusting God.

There is no question about it: You will be hungry, angry, lonely or tired at some point. When you are, temptations will knock at your door.

Jesus did not wait until Satan showed up to make up his mind — he was prepared for battle. Likewise, it would be wise to decide ahead of time to “halt” before diving into that which can destroy our lives, lest our convictions crack under pressure.

Patricia Holbrook is a columnist, author, blogger and international speaker. Her newly published Bible Study – Twelve Inches – is now available on her website www.soaringwithHim.com. For speaking engagements and comments, email pholbrook@soaringwithHim.com