Today’s Word: I woke up this morning with an excited yet woeful heart. The excitement came from the fact of knowing that I will get to spend the morning at home alone. With the wife gone to work and the kids heading off to school, a part of me yearned for some “me” time. Yet at the same moment, I have learned from past experience that I tend to struggle more with temptation when I am alone. With no one around, I know that I can do whatever my heart desires. In many instances, these “alone times” have left me feeling defeated after having fallen to temptation. Surprisingly, I now use these times in the wilderness as a way for me to test my self-control in Christ. For the Spirit in me, leads me towards intimacy with Christ, yet my flesh leads me towards darkness and empty desires. As a pastor, I share the same fear as Paul when he writes, “…I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified (1 Corinthians 9:27). We need to remember that it is not our deeds or our religion that identifies us as believers in Christ; it is our hearts. And nothing angers our Lord more than those who’s hearts do not match their walk; hypocrisy… Why is this? For the Spirit of God cannot commune with the spirits of darkness. Therefore, if we are empty vessels, we can only be filled with Light or darkness. I tell you the truth; you cannot sin and remain “in” Christ. (Praise the Lord that he forgives those with a repentant heart when we fall.) Here is one of the many teachings of Jesus that talk about hypocrisy. He proclaims, “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the roofs” (Luke 12:1-3). So why do I enjoy spending time alone? It allows me to test my self-control in Christ. For, “No temptation has overtaken “us” that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let “us” be tempted beyond “our abilities”, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that “we” may be able to endure it. (1 Corinthians 10:13) Jesus has come to free us from our sins. And it is through His power, that we have received the gift of self-control; one of the gifts of the Spirit. The Word for today is that the state of our hearts is truly revealed when we are alone. In these quiet moments, we face our toughest spiritual battles, and we can either run to Christ or become enslaved once again to darkness. Believe me, there is many a day where I have found myself on my knees with my head in my hands weeping as I gave into my flesh. And by God’s unfailing grace he has always been there to restore me after I have fallen. Yet as I continue to grow in grace and holiness, I find that through Christ I am winning more of these standoffs with my flesh. Here is an encouraging word; the Christ in us is greater than any temptation we will every face. And He has given us the power to overcome sin. Therefore, the next time we find ourselves alone, let us choose Christ over sin. For true joy is found in Christ. There is no joy found in sin.