My sons and I have recently resumed TaeKwonDo lessons after a long break. One of the themes that the instructors stress is practicing the moves in order to establish 'muscle memory'. For those of you who recall the original Karate Kid movie, this is what Mister Miyagi was doing when he told Daniel, "Wax on, wax off."
The idea is simple: You train your muscles to perform a specific movement through repetition. By the time Daniel had waxed five vintage automobiles, his hands just naturally moved in a circular pattern when he was attacked.
My Tabernacle study today was about Jesus' superiority as a high priest because He faced all temptation that is common to us all - yet overcame it. He opened the door of escape to us, so that we could also overcome any temptation. And He stands at that door, in fact, He says He IS the door, and beckons us to walk through it. This is not just a one-time escape from sin through salvation; it is a daily and moment-by-moment escape from whatever sin is tempting us right now.
So often we see others fall into sin and can easily pinpoint the exact moment where they took the wrong turn. We can see where the opportunities to go another path were and our hearts break that someone we love chose the wrong path. But this isn't Let's Make A Deal where you don't know what is behind Door #1. The Holy Spirit convicts us of truth. If we seek God, He will not direct us to the wrong door.
Unfortunately, too often we don't seek Him. Or we maintain veto power. We hear the Holy Spirit nudging us gently to the right door, but decide we might miss something if we take that door. The only thing we will miss are the consequences of sin - something we would gladly avoid if we understood them fully!
Each time we are tempted and we ignore or refuse the means of escape that God provides, we are building muscle memory. We are training our hearts in rebellion to God. The next time we're faced with temptation (only a moment later), it will take more resolve to make our escape. Over years, we develop a calloused heart that barely hears the whisper of the Spirit, "This is the way, walk in it." Yet, the way of escape remains.
No matter how many times we've chosen to ignore God's escape route, He continues to offer us one each and every time. "Today is the day of salvation" - not only of our souls for eternity, but of our lives from sin. Today is the day to open our eyes to the means of escape and to walk - or run - through that door.
Today is the day I will watch and pray that I don't fall into temptation. Today is the day I will start reversing the habit of falling and start developing a response of obedience.
It's amazing how some of the moves we learned a year or more ago are coming back to me. It's all about muscle memory. "Wax on, wax off."