Exodus 17:8-16 - How To Win the War of Temptation

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Thomas S. Myers

How to win The war of temptation

Exodus 17:8-16

            We take the miracle of the seedless orange for granted, but years ago there were none of the sweet, seedless oranges that we know today.  A navel orange tree was imported from Brazil and planted at Riverside, California, where old orange trees were topped, leaving short trunks into which cuttings from the Brazilian navel orange trees were grafted.  The grafting was successful and soon the character of the orange tree was completely changed.  From the graft down, the orange tree had its old nature and could produce the old orange that had seeds. But from the graft up was a new nature that produced the new seedless orange.  The orange rancher had to constantly cut off the shoots that sprouted from the old nature of the tree.  These shoots had to be removed or they would bear fruit from the old nature.

            The Christian has two natures.  We have an old sin nature that wants to sin, and we have a new nature that wants to do good.  Just as the orange rancher had to constantly cut off the shoots from the old nature of the orange tree, we as believers have to constantly cut off the old nature that produces sin.   In Exodus chapter 17 we see a picture of our old sin nature.  Let's take a look at:

Exodus 17:8-16

8 The Amalekites came and attacked the Israelites at Rephidim. 9 Moses said to Joshua, "Choose some of our men and go out to fight the Amalekites. Tomorrow I will stand on top of the hill with the staff of God in my hands." 10 So Joshua fought the Amalekites as Moses had ordered, and Moses, Aaron and Hur went to the top of the hill. 11 As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning. 12 When Moses

1'hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up -- one on one side, one on the other -- so that his hands remained steady till sunset. 13 So Joshua overcame the Amalekite army with the sword. 14 Then the LORD said to Moses, "Write this on a scroll as something to be remembered and make sure that Joshua hears it, because I will completely blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven." 15 Moses built an altar and called it The LORD is my Banner. 16 He said, "For hands were lifted up to the throne of the LORD. The LORD will be at war against the Amalekites from generation to generation." (NIV)



            I took  every book I could find in my library and tried to find information on the Amalekites.  I found that Amalek was the grandson of Esau (the son of Abraham) by a concubine.

            I also found that the Amalekites were always at war with the children of Israel.  Moses' generation had to fight the Amalekites.  Joshua's generation had to fight the Amalekites.  His grandchildren had to fight the Amalekites.  King Saul had to fight them.  King David had to

fight them.  As a matter of fact, King Hezekiah had to fight them in 1 Chronicles. 

            But I want you to notice the last verse of Exodus 17, verse 16, because it illustrates an important truth about our old sin nature.  Notice that it says:

"The LORD will be at war against the Amalekites from generation to generation."


            Just as the Israelites will be constantly at war against the Amalekites from generation to generation, so we as believers will be continually at war with our old sin nature.  That is, there will never be a time when we will be free from the temptation of sin.  We

will always be at war with the temptation to sin.  The apostle Paul confirmed this when He said in Romans chapter 7 that he had a constant warfare with the old sin nature.

Romans 7:18-19, 21 & 24

18 I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do -- this I keep on doing...21 So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me... 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?  (NIV)


            When you were born, you were born with a s-i-n nature that makes it very easy for you to sin.  Sin comes very natural for us.  It is just as easy for us to sin as it is for a dog to bark, because

that is its nature. 


            Amalek is a picture of our old sin nature.  Just as Amalek will be at continual war, so we will be in continual warfare with our old sin nature.  When you trust Jesus Christ as your Savior, your old sin nature is not done away with.  Some religions teach that when you become a Christian, you will not sin again.  That just isn't the case.  You don't get rid of your sin nature when you become a Christian.  You can be a Christian for 100 years, pray 8 hours a day, read the Bible for 8 hours a day, witness 8 hours a day, and you still would not get rid of your sin nature.  The Bible says this:

1 John 1:8

8 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. (NIV)


            Now when you became a Christian, God gave you a new nature to do right.  Christian's  have 2 natures living inside them:  One is the old sin nature (Amalek) and the other is new nature (the Holy Spirit).  You need to look at Galatians 5:17: 

17 For the sinful nature desires what is

contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. (NIV)

      You can live to be 1,200 years old and you still will have to do battle with the old sin nature (Amalek).  The Lord said, there will be "War with Amalek for generation to generation." 

Now in war they say if you can identify the enemy, you are 50% on the way to victory.  Your enemy is not your wife, or your husband.  It is not your boss or your neighbor.  The biggest problem is your old sin nature, Amalek-that is your flesh.  You will never reach the place where it will leave you alone.  Just as Amalek will always be at war, so will you always be at war with your old sin nature.  That is who Amalek is, a nation that is in constant warfare.  


      I want you to see not only who Amalek is (the old sin nature), but I want you to see when he appeared.  Notice Exodus 17:8

Exodus 17:8

8 The Amalekites came and attacked the Israelites at Rephidim. (NIV)

      In the first 7 verses of Exodus chapter 17, the children of Israel became very thirsty and began to complain.  God told Moses to take his rod and strike a rock and water would flow out of the rock.  In 1 Corinthians 10:4, it tells us that the children drank water from that rock, and that the rock is a picture of Jesus Christ.  Now when did the children of Israel meet Amalek?  As soon as they drank water from the rock.  Here is the point: as soon as you trust Jesus Christ as your Savior, as soon as you are born again, you do battle with the old sin nature.  When you became a Christian, what happened 2 or 3 days later? You had a battle with the old sin

nature.  You had a battle like you have never had before.  Did you say,

 "Hey! I didn't have those temptations before I became a Christian."  Do you know what was going on?  As soon as you drank from the Spiritual Rock, "The Amalekites came and attacked."  That is, the old sin nature began to attack you

            What happened was, the old sin nature cried out, "Don't live such a straight life." Or, "You don't have to be that fanatical to be a Christian."  Or, "Stop attending church."  Amalek is always at war with us.  When will the war be over with our old sin nature?  It is not going to stop until you die.  The Lord said,  


Exodus 17:16

"The LORD will be at war against the Amalekites from generation to generation." (NIV)

            Some Christians think that the war with the flesh will slack off after a while, but it won't.  The old sin nature says, "Remember when you used to _____.  There is nothing wrong with dabbling back into it."  The old sin nature keeps pulling at you.  That is why the apostle Paul said, in Romans 7:19

19 For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do -- this I keep on doing...  And he went on to say:

Romans 7:24

24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? (NIV)

            Notice the phrase "Who will rescue me from this body of death?That

phrase is an illustration of a form of punishment that was administered by the Roman government.  A dead body was tied to a man who was convicted of murder.  They would strap a dead body foot to foot, hand to hand, face to face with someone who was convicted of murder.  And the living man would actually carry about that decaying, putrefying dead body everywhere he went.  He would sleep with it at night, he would eat with it at the table, until that

dead body ate into his own body and it eventually killed him.  Paul is saying, having the old sin nature is like dragging around an old dead body.   So the apostle Paul is saying, "Who will deliver me from this body of death?"


            Look at:1 Samuel 15:1-3

1 Samuel said to Saul, "I am the one the LORD sent to anoint you king over his people Israel; so listen now to the message from the LORD. 2 This is what the LORD Almighty says: `I will punish the Amalekites for what they did to Israel when they waylaid them as they came up from Egypt.

3 Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy everything that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.'" (NIV)

            What did God say to do?  To utterly destroy Amalek.  What did Samuel tell Saul to do?  


1 Samuel 15:7-9

7 Then Saul attacked the Amalekites all the way from Havilah to Shur, to the east of Egypt. 8 He took Agag king of the

Amalekites alive, and all his people he totally destroyed with the sword.

9 But Saul and the army spared Agag and the best of the sheep and cattle, the fat calves and lambs -- everything that was good. These they were unwilling to destroy completely, but everything that was despised and weak they totally destroyed. (NIV)

        The Lord said, "Utterly destroy the Amalekites."  But King Saul only obeyed 90% of the Lord's command.  He gave into the old sin nature.  As a result, it eventually cost him his position as king.  You might say, "Well, I yield 90% to the Spirit."  Then you will not be the Christian you were meant to

be.  Look what the prophet Samuel said to King Saul: 


1 Samuel 15:22

22 But Samuel replied: "Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the LORD? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams. (NIV)

            We tend to think that if we do enough good deeds we can hang on to our sinful habits.   If Saul had not obeyed his sin nature and had killed all the Amalekites, as he was told, he and his sons would have been kings in Israel. 

            You see, you have two natures, a spiritual nature and a fleshly nature, which is Amalek.

Galatians 5:17

17 For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. (NIV)

            You make the choice.  You're in the driver's seat.  It is up to you to yield to the Spirit or to the flesh (Amalek).  Let me give you some help.  The Bible gives us a promise found in Galatians 5:16.  I want to give you the promise in the New International Version and King James Version of the Bible. 


 Galatians 5:16

16 So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. (NIV)


Galatians 5:16

16 This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. (KJV)


God has given us a promise that we can live a life led by the Spirit of God if we "LIVE IN THE SPIRIT."     How do you "live in the spirit" and not live in the flesh?  The best way is to starve the flesh to death.  That is, don't put yourself in the place to be tempted.  Don't give the flesh anything that appeals to the flesh.  Don't put yourself in a position to have the flesh entertained.  Starve it out whenever and wherever you can.   


            Now whatever it is that easily tempts you, stay away from it.  For example, if eating chocolate mousse ice-cream is what is killing you, don't go down the isle that has ice-cream.  But that is not all.  You must replace what you don't eat with something else.  That is why the Bible says over and over again:

Romans 13:12

12 The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us "...put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light." (NIV)


Ephesians 6:11

11 Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. (NIV)

            The point is this:  If you're going to put aside the deeds of the flesh, you need to replace the deeds of the flesh with the deeds of the spirit.  That is what Jesus did when the devil tempted Him.  Jesus lay aside the temptations of the devil and put on the armor by quoting Scripture.    

            Let me illustrate it this way:  Consider the effect of gravity on a book.  Gravity would cause an unsupported book to fall, but gravity can be rendered "powerless" against the book by simply placing a table under it.  As long as the table is under the book, gravity cannot cause it to fall.  The table is "stronger" than gravity's effect on the book.  For the Christian, the Holy Spirit is like that table and our sin nature is like gravity's pull.  As long as we allow the Holy Spirit to hold us up, which places our dependence on his power to give us victory over sin, our sinful impulses have no power to pull us down. 

            As as a book needs a table to keep it from falling, you also need the armor of God to keep you from falling.  To walk in the spirit, you need the tools of the spirit.  You need to get into the Book of books. 

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