Thembalami 16 25th September 2013
How to deal with temptation Nelson’s Bible Dictionary defines temptation as “an enticement or invitation to sin, with the implied promise of greater good to be derived from following the way of disobedience.” Resisting temptation begins with knowing that Satan is the supreme “tempter”
It is not wrong to be tempted; the sin is yielding to temptation.
Temptation, by its very nature, feels wrong. God’s moral law is written in the heart of every human being (Romans 1:20), and when a sinful temptation is introduced, our consciences immediately sense danger. However, the temptation itself is not the sin. Jesus was tempted (Mark 1:13Luke 4:1-13), but He never sinned (Hebrews 4:15). Sin occurs when we mishandle temptation.There are two avenues by which we are tempted: Satan and our own sinful flesh. Ultimately, since Satan is the “god of this world” (2 Corinthians 4:4) and the father of lies (John 8:44), all evil originates with him. However, he uses our own selfish nature to work against us. We need no prompting from Satan to entertain sinful ideas. James 1:13-14 says, “When tempted, no one should say, ‘God is tempting me.’ For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed.”Even though we may desire to do good, we are all tempted. No one is above it, even someone like the apostle Paul. He shared his own struggle of flesh against spirit when he wrote in Roman 7:22-23, “I love God’s law with all my heart.23 But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me.“Temptation is not of itself sinful. It becomes sin when we allow the temptation to become action, even in our minds. Lust, for example, is sin even though it may never be acted uponMatthew 5:28But I say to you that jeveryone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart
When we give in to the temptation to entertain such thoughts, they take root in our hearts and defile us (Matthew 17:19).
And, many times, what was just a thought becomes action (see James 1:15).The best defense against giving in to temptation is to flee at the first suggestion.
Joseph is a great example of someone who did not allow temptation to become sin (Genesis 39:6-11). Although tempted to sin sexually, he did not give the temptation time to take root. He used the legs God gave him and physically fled. Rather than stay in a potentially dangerous situation and try to talk, reason, justify or explain his way out of it, Joseph took off.
The temptation was not sin for him because he dealt with it in a God-honoring way. It could easily have become sin if Joseph had stayed around to try to match his wits and self-control against the power of the flesh.
When we put ourselves in situations where we know we will be tempted, we are asking for trouble.
God promises to provide a “way of escape” when we are tempted
1 Corinthians 10:13, but often that way is to avoid the situation altogether. Temptation is a universal experience; no one is exempt from it.
“ For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”this verse implies that “all have been tempted” Luke17:1
One day Jesus said to his disciples, “There will always be temptations to sin, but what sorrow awaits the person who does the tempting!
We are not in a position to choose whether we will be tempted or not
It is not wrong to be tempted; it is wrong to yield to temptation.
Jesus was severely tempted during His time on earth yet He was entirely without sin.
Since he himself has gone through suffering and testing, he is able to help us when we are being tested.
The Scriptures tell us that we shall all face temptations. 1Corinthians 10:13The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.Perhaps this provides a little encouragement as we often feel that the world is bearing in on us alone, and that others are immune to temptations. We are told that Christ was also tempted:
Hebrews 4:15Our High Priest understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin.Where, then, do these temptations come from? It is important to know that Temptations, do not come from God, although He does allow them. James 1:13And remember, when you are being tempted, do not say, “God is tempting me.” God is never tempted to do wrong, and he never tempts anyone else.In the first chapter of Job, we see that God allowed Satan to tempt Job, but with restrictions. Satan is roaming on the earth like a lion
1 Peter 5:8Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.Verse 9 tells us to resist him, knowing that other Christians are also experiencing his attacks. Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your Christian brothers and sisters all over the world are going through the same kind of suffering you are.By these passages we can know that temptations come from Satan,but temptation begins in us as well. James 1:14Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. We allow ourselves to think certain thoughts, allow ourselves to go places we should not go, and make decisions based on our desired that lead us into the temptation.How are we able to resist temptation?Firstly be alert and keep watchJesus impresses upon us the need for constant watchfulness and mental alertness if we are to overcome temptation
1 Thessalonians5:6So be on your guard, not asleep like the others. Stay alert and be clearheaded.
1 Peter 5:8Peter warns us to:
Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.
It is a mistake to underestimate the strength and ability of Satan, because he is crafty, subtle and clever, frequently disguising himself as the angle of light 2 Corinthians 2:11Stay alert so that Satan will not outsmart us. For we are familiar with his evil schemes.
The second thing to do in times of temptationWe should prayMark 14:38Keep watch and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation. For the spirit is willing, but the body is weak.”The Lord Himself is our example, in His darkest hour of trial in Gethsemane,He first told the three Apostles to pray, and then resorted to prayer Himself
In the Lord’s Prayer we are taught to ask “deliver us from evil”
Jesus Himself prayed for Peter that he might be victorious when “sifted” by Satan
“Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift each of you like wheat.
For it is in prayer that we receive the strength and grace of God to overcome temptation and whenever we “lift up holy hands in Prayer” our spiritual enemy is defeated.
Thirdly we should know The word
There is no greater weapon against temptation than the “sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God”Ephesians 6:17Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
The Word of God has always been our best defense against Satan’s temptations, and the better we know His Word, the easier it will be to claim victory over our daily struggles. The Psalmist tells us
Psalm 119:11“I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you”
Jesus is our example when He was temptedby Satan in the desert, the first thing He did was to quote Scripture
Matthew 4:1-11Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted there by the devil.2 For forty days and forty nights he fasted and became very hungry. During that time the devil (Greek the tempter) came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become loaves of bread.” But Jesus told him, “No! The Scriptures say, ‘People do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ (Deut 8:3 )” Then the devil took him to the holy city, Jerusalem, to the highest point of the Temple, and said, “If you are the Son of God, jump off! For the Scriptures say,‘He will order his angels to protect you. And they will hold you up with their hands so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.’(Ps 91:11-12 )”Satan quoted scripture himself Jesus responded, “The Scriptures also say, ‘You must not test the Lord your God.( Deut 6:16 )” Next the devil took him to the peak of a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. “I will give it all to you,” he said, “if you will kneel down and worship me.” “Get out of here, Satan,” Jesus told him. “For the Scriptures say, ‘You must worship the Lord your God and serve only him.’(Deut 6:13)” Then the devil went away, and angels came and took care of Jesus.
By quoting Scripture it eventually caused the devil to leave Him.
We need to be diligent in studying God’s Word.
the verses above, teaches us thateach of Satan’s temptations was met with the same answer: “For the Scriptures say ,”. If Jesus 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. We will be “transformed by the renewing of your mind”Romans 12:2. And we must set your mind on the things aboveColossians 3:2Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth.If our minds are filled with the latest TV shows, music and what the world culture of today has to offer, we will be bombarded with messages and images that inevitably lead to sinful thoughts.But if our minds are filled with the majesty and holiness of God, the brilliance of Christ’slove and compassion, reflected in His perfect Word, we will find that our interest in the temptations of the world diminish and disappear. But without the Word’s influence on our minds, we are open to anything that Satan wants to throw at us.Let usguard 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:
Matthew 26:41Keep watch and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation. For the spirit is willing, but the body is weak!”Most Believers 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.
When we are tempted, it is very important,not to focus our attention on the sin. When we pray our mind should be focussed on God, and we should direct our attention on the positive graces or virtues and not on the sin that we are battling to overcome.
Let me explain:
Do not pray, “O lord, deliver me from my bad temper” but rather “O Lord give me Your Holy Spirit and especially the fruits of patience, peace and self control”
The rule is to concentrate on the positive graces or virtues we need, and not upon the vices or faults we wish to overcome !!!
The Empty house
“When an unclean spirit leaves a person, it goes into the desert, seeking rest but finding none.44 Then it says, ‘I will return to the person I came from.’ So it returns and finds its former home empty, swept, and in order.45 Then the spirit finds seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they all enter the person and live there. And so that person is worse off than before. That will be the experience of this evil generation.”
In this description of the heart which have undergone a spring-cleaning and was left clean but empty as Jesus explained it.
After you have taken the decision to stop a number of bad things in your life, you have repented, cleaned out your mind and physically removed certain obstacles that would usually be the start of temptations. That is not good enough. I call it merely negative goodness. Or positive negativity
Unless a man invites new tenants into his house , the old demon will return with seven others.
The goodness that was performed was merely negative, and temporary and therefore the last state will be worse than the first
The empty life will be sin-ridden .
Evil can never be driven out by a direct and continuous attempt to get rid of it. Evil is only driven out by taking in thegood after removing the bad
Many of us are engaged in a constant struggle to drive out the demons and we wonder why we don’t succeed
The truth is we are attempting to be good – for nothing
That same energy should be diverted to the positive task of filling the house of the heart with good tenants, so that when the demons come back and peep in through the windows, they will find it full and occupied.
What does it mean to fill the house?
It means this, Invite the Lord Jesus Christ in, and let your life be fired with the new affection of love for Him.
Seek the companionship of His Disciples, make good friends, and enjoy real satisfying fellowship
Throw yourself with energy and enthusiasm into His work, making His Kingdom your sole purpose;
Spend time each day in prayer,Scripture reading and meditating on the word
Be engaged in the worship and service of the Lord Jesus Christ
Set out to be good for something, be positive.
The immediate answer to temptation should be No.
But the ultimate answer to all temptation should be “Yes” to the Lord Jesus who leads us into abundant life.
How does temptation creep into our lives
Once upon a time an Arab camel-driver was asleep in his tent in the dessert on a bitterly cold night. In the middle of the night he woke up to find that his camel had pushed its nose under the flap of the tent , he was about to protest when he realized that only a very small portion of the camel was inside , so he decided it didn’t matter that much .
On waking up laterfrom his tiredness, he discovered that the camel had inserted his whole head and long hairy neck into the tent, but before he couldprotestthe camel said to him
“It is so terribly cold outside and I promise not to come in any further please would you mind if I stay?”. So the Arab went back to sleep again but woke up for a third time in a panic, this time he found that the camel’s front legs and hump were now in the tent. He was about to get up and drive the camel out when the camel replied .
”Please I solemnly promise this time that I won’t come in a centimetre more – butyou must agree it’s warmer in the tent with the two of us inside is it not?” The Arab was so lazy that, in spite of the growing hesitation in his mind, he fell off to sleep again.
Not long after that he woke up crying for help, for he found the heavy weight of the camel on top of him.
“If it’s room you want” said the beastin answer to the Arab’s cry, “there is plenty of room outside – get out!”
Friends, Sin, like the camel, does not walk into the tent of one’s life , if that was the case then we would be able to stop it in time, no – sin worms it’s way graduallyin to our lives, like the camel.
The Arab had no intention of allowing the camel to take possession of his tent, but the beast did so because he dallied with it, instead of taking charge at the beginning.
Sin takes hold of us in four ways;
What then is the right way to deal with temptation?
No one can help evil thoughts from entering our heads;everyone has them, which is only another way of saying that we are all tempted.
But we can prevent evil thoughts from turning into evil imaginationthat will become evil desires and ultimately evil actions
“You cannot help it if birds fly over your head, but you can prevent them from building their nests in your hair!”
This graphic saying expresses two facts about temptation: that everyone will be tempted, but that such temptation can be resisted and overcome.
The rule is therefore, always deal with temptation when it first comes in the realm of thought, and never dally with it.
Deal with the camel when he first puts his nose under the flap of your tent, for you will find it difficult to deal with him at the later stages. Don’t play with fire.
“Keeping our eye on Jesus”Let’s look at it practically
What should we do the moment when we are tempted?
What did I say Do not make the mistake of concentrating on the one thing that are tempting you by tryingto resist or fight against it, we all do it because that is the natural reaction.
The way to overcome evil is not to fight it, because if you want to fight evil you will have to concentrate on it, and the more we concentrate on fighting evil within ourselves the more we are enslaved by it. The more we fill our minds with the negative thought of the temptation the more desperate we get to overcome it and the more we realize how difficult it is. We often fail to overcome temptation, not through lack of trying ,but because we try too hard, but in the wrong way.
The right thing to do is to redirect the attention by looking elsewhere.
The function of yourwill,always follows the path of your attention, and when the mind is turned to Jesus, evil loses its appeal and we are reinforced with His grace and power.
One should not be pre-occupied with oneself, especially with one’s own temptations. Rather in times of temptation, we must establish a discipline of looking away from our self and turn our attention and our eyes to our savoir Jesus in His holiness and powerHebrews 12:1Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.2We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the originator and perfecter of our faith.
We should re-direct our eyes on Jesus rather than elsewhere? Because He died for our sins.Jesus fought with all the hosts of darkness on the Cross
Colossians 2:15In this way, he disarmed the spiritual rulers and authorities. He shamed them publicly by his victory over them on the cross.
The Cross is a complete victory, a decisive triumph; the powers of evil have been defeated and overthrown “The strife is over, the battle done” This has happened, and it makes all the difference. As believers we do not have to struggle to win the victory over evil: if that were the case then Christ’s death was meaningless
Galatians 2:21I do not treat the grace of God as meaningless. For if keeping the law could make us right with God, then there was no need for Christ to die.
We should appreciate a victory already won. Satan is on his back all that has to happen now ishe has to be counted out.
The reason for our temptation defeats, is mainly that we do not believe, we do not receive, we do not trust
Let’s receive the Savoir and trust in His redeeming blood, and order ourselves to abide in Him at all times, keeping our eyes on Him in times of temptation
1 John 5:4For every child of God defeats this evil world, and we achieve this victory through our faith.We need to avoid the path of the world that leads us to temptation because our flesh is weak. We are easily carried away by our own lusts.Scripturehas some excellent advice. Matthew 5:29So if your eye—even your good eye (Greek your right eye.)—causes you to lust, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.That sounds severe! Sin is severe! Jesus is not saying that we literally need to remove body parts. Cutting out the eye is a drastic measure, and Jesus is teaching us that if necessary, a drastic measure should be taken to avoid sin.If what you see on TV becomes a possible temptation switch it off don’t look The apostle Paul encourages us with these words:1 Corinthians 10:13 “ The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure”.
Yet with the power of the Holy Spirit and the truth of God’s Word to help us, we will find ourselves effectively resisting temptations.
But it is the power of the Holy Spirit that enables us to free ourselves from the sin and temptations we struggle with daily. Thus, if we have the Spirit of Christ living in our hearts, we already have what it takes to resist the flaming arrows the devil sends our way.
As Paul told the Galatians,
Galatians 5:16“So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves.
Let us close
Father God your word has always been our best defense against Satan’s temptations, and the better we know Your word, the easier it will be to claim victory over our daily struggles against temptation.
Lord every sin we’ve ever committed, or ever will commit, played a part in nailing our Blessed Savior Jesus Christ to the Cross.
Lord help us to not respond to Satan’s worldly temptationsfor it is how we respondto temptation that is the real indicator as to just how much the love of Jesus Christ occupies our hearts.Lord help us to walk boldly in the Spirit and that we may look at temptations as opportunities for us to demonstratethat You Lord are indeed the Master of our lives.And that we as Your children Lord can defeat this evil world, and achieve this victory through our faith in You.
We ask this in Jesus name – Amen