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The monkey and the shiny thing

Here’s a tried and true way to catch a monkey in 4 easy steps.

  1. Cut a small hole in a coconut, just large enough for the monkey to slip his hand into.
  2. Tie the coconut to a tree.
  3. Take something shiny, such as a polished coin and shine it in the monkey’s eye to get his attention.
  4. After you have the monkey’s attention, drop the shiny object into the coconut and walk away.

The monkey will climb down the tree, stick his hand in the coconut, and grab the coin. With his fist wrapped around the coin, he can’t pull his hand out of the coconut. Once the monkey has the coin in his hand, he won’t let go of it because he covets the shiny thing, even when his life is at risk. All you need to do is simply walk up and grab the monkey.

Here’s the point of the story

Sometimes we’re like that monkey. The devil tempts us with something that we really want to have or with something that we really want to do. We grab hold of the opportunity to sin and we don’t want to let go. The longer we hold onto the shiny thing that the Devil shines in our eyes, the harder it is for us to let go of it.

Fortunately, we’re smarter than a monkey, or at least should be.

What we need to do

We need to identify our weaknesses because the devil already knows them better than we do. It can be an ungodly attitude, a habit, refusal to forgive other people, pride, jealousy, gossip, idolatry, or lust. We need to learn what triggers our tendency to sin and be willing to avoid those triggers.

For example, if you struggle with drunkenness, you should avoid hanging out in bars. If you struggle with lust, you need to discipline yourself to avoid the things that trigger that sin in your life, such as movies or TV shows that contain nudity. Even a woman with a low-cut blouse or short shorts can be a problem for some people. When you can’t avoid being around the thing that triggers temptation, you need to discipline yourself to look away so that the fire isn’t kindled in your heart that might lead you to sin.

I believe that this is more important now than it’s ever been because we’re living in the very last of the last days before the return of Jesus.

The Apostle Paul wrote:

And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light. Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.
Romans 13:11-14

And the Apostle Peter wrote:

Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul.
1 Peter 2:11

This not only takes self-discipline but it also requires much prayer. Even just a short prayer, such as “Lord help me” or “God, give me strength” can be a huge help when you find yourself at the point of temptation. I do this all the time.

Another effective strategy to defeat the Devil’s schemes is to keep your mind fixed on the things of God instead of on everything the world has to offer you. The Apostle Paul said to “… walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh” (Galatians 5:16). To walk in the Spirit, we first have to be filled with the Holy Spirit, and then we must cooperate by listening to His promptings so He can direct our steps to keep us on the straight path that leads to eternal life.

Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.
Philippians 4:8

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I first professed my belief in Jesus as the Son of God and accepted Him as my Savior more than 40 years ago. Since that day, I’ve never doubted that Jesus is who He claims to be. However, that belief didn’t keep me from living my life on my own terms for several years, which resulted in repeating the same sins over and over. In 2013, I became determined to make Jesus the Lord of my life. It was then that the Holy Spirit gave me an insatiable appetite for God’s word. As I turned more and more of my life over to Jesus and cooperated with the Holy Spirit, He has helped me break free of the sins that once enslaved me. Since then, I’ve been strongly compelled to share God’s word and to warn others that we need to get ready because Jesus is coming soon.

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