The Scriptures tell us that we all face
temptations. First Corinthians 10:13 says, “No temptation has overtaken
you but that which is common to man.” Perhaps this provides a little
encouragement as we often feel that the world is caving in on us alone,
and that others are immune to temptations. We are told that Christ was
also tempted, “For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize
with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we
are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15).
Where then do these temptations come from? First
of all, they do not come from God, although He does allow them. James
1:13 says, “for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not
tempt anyone.” In the first chapter of Job we see that God allowed Satan
to tempt Job, but with restrictions. Satan is roaming around on the
earth like a lion, seeking people to devour (1 Peter 5:8). Verse 9 tells
us to resist him, knowing that other Christians are also experiencing
his attacks. By these passages we can know that temptations come from
Satan. We see in James 1:14 that temptation originates in us as well. We
are tempted when we are “carried away and enticed by our own lust”
(verse 14). We allow ourselves to think certain thoughts, allow
ourselves to go places we should not go, and make decisions based on our
lusts that lead us into the temptation.
How then do we resist the temptations? First of
all, we must return to the example of Jesus being tempted in the
wilderness by Satan in Matthew 4:1-11. Each of Satan’s temptations was
met with the same answer: “It is written,” followed by Scripture. If the
Son of God used the Word of God to effectively end the temptations—which
we know works because after three failed efforts, “the Devil left him”
(v. 11)—how much more do we need to use it to resist our own
temptations? All our efforts to resist will be weak and ineffective
unless they are powered by the Holy Spirit through the constant reading,
studying, and meditating on the Word. In this way, we will be
“transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2). There is no
other weapon against temptation except the “sword of the Spirit, which
is the Word of God” (Ephesians 6:17). Colossians 3:2 says, “Set your
mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.”
minds are filled with the latest TV shows, music and all the rest the
culture has to offer, we will be bombarded with messages and images that
inevitably lead to sinful lusts. But if our minds are filled with the
majesty and holiness of God, the love and compassion of Christ, and the
brilliance of both reflected in His perfect Word, we will find our
interests in the lusts of the world diminish and disappear. But without
the Word’s influence on our minds, we are open to anything Satan wants
to throw at us.
Here, then, is the only means to guard our hearts
and minds in order to keep the sources of temptation away from us.
Remember the words of Christ to His disciples in the Garden on the night
of His betrayal: “Keep watching and praying that you may not enter into
temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matthew
26:41). Most Christians would not openly want to jump into sin, yet we
cannot resist falling into it because our flesh is not strong enough to
resist. We place ourselves in situations or fill our minds with lustful
passions, and that leads us into sin.
We need to renew our thinking as we are told in
Romans 12:1-2. We need to no longer think as the world thinks, or walk
in the same way that the world walks. Proverbs 4:14-15 tells us, “Do not
enter the path of the wicked, and do not proceed in the way of evil men.
Avoid it, do not pass by; Turn away from it and pass on.”
We need to
avoid the path of the world that leads us into temptation because our
flesh is weak. We are easily carried away by our own lusts.
Recognize your tendency toward sin.
James 1:14 explains that we are tempted when we
become enticed by our own natural desires. The first step toward
avoiding temptation, is recognizing our human tendency to be tempted by
our own fleshly desires. Temptation is a given, so don't be surprised by
it. Rather, expect to be tempted. Be prepared for it.
Run away from the temptation.
I love the New Living Translation of 1 Corinthians
10:13. It says, "But remember that the temptations that come into your
life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful.
He will keep the temptation from becoming so strong that you can't stand
up against it. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that
you will not give in to it."
When you are face to face with temptation, look
for the way out that God has promised and then run as fast as you can.
Resist with the Word of
Hebrews 4:12 says God's Word is living and active.
Did you know you can carry a weapon that will make your thoughts obey
Jesus Christ? If you don't believe me, read 2 Corinthians 10:4-5 One of
these weapons is the Word of God.
Though it can be helpful to read God's Word when
you're being tempted, sometimes that's not practical. Even better is to
practice reading the Word daily, so that eventually you have so much of
it inside, you are ready whenever temptation comes. If you are reading
through the Bible regularly, you will have the full counsel of God at
Refocus with praise.
How often have you been tempted to sin when your
heart and mind were fully concentrated on worship to the Lord? Praising
God takes your focus off of yourself and puts it on God. You may not be
strong enough to resist temptation on your own, but as you focus on God,
he will inhabit your praise. He will give you the strength to resist and
walk away from the temptation. May I suggest Psalm 147 as a good place
Repent quickly when you
In several places the Bible tells us the best way
to resist temptation is to flee from it (1 Corinthians 6:18; 1
Corinthians 10:14; 1 Timothy 6:11; 2 Timothy 2:22).
Yet still we all fail from time to time. We
fail to flee. Notice I didn't say, repent quickly if you fail. Having a
more realistic view—knowing that at times you will fail—should help you
to repent quickly when you do. It is not the end of the world when you
fail, but it is very dangerous to persist in your sin.
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