Overcoming Temptation

businesscard-3.5inx2in-h-frontWhat tempts you?  Everyone gets tempted.  Whether you’re close to God or far from him temptation never goes away.  Unless, you’re a pastor…no, all of us deal with temptation!

Here are a few temptation questions:

Are you tempted to overeat with sweets or salty snacks?  For me it’s the sweets: ice cream, pie, and chocolate.

Are you more tempted to drink too much beer, wine or mixed drinks?  In the past I’ve gone too far with beer and mixed drinks.

Now, it’s going to get real serious here. Are you more tempted to view online pornography or use illegal drugs?  Drugs for me.

Are you more tempted to cheat on your spouse or to cheat on your taxes?  For me it’s Taxes.

Are you tempted by pride to think “I’m not tempted by those things. That may happen to others, but not to me.”  It’s easy for me to think, “it’s been a few years, I’m ok.”

We could keep going, there are all kinds of temptation but I think you get the point.  I have been tempted by the above and given in as I wrote.

It’s not wrong (or a sin) to be tempted. Even Jesus was temped. (Matthew 4:1 & Hebrews 4:15) The problem is when I give in.

When it comes to temptation, the wrong question to ask is, “How can I avoid this temptation?  I can’t avoid all temptations. The right question is, “How, with God’s help, can I overcome the temptation?”

Here are four steps to Overcome Temptation.

  1. State the Obvious: “I am tempted”

It wasn’t easy to write I have struggled with overeating, drugs, and taxes.  Now the whole world knows!   The deeper issue; I admit not only to you, but also to God.

A great example of temptation gone wrong is the story of David and Bathsheba. (2 Samuel 11)  David was the king, (wealthy and powerful) the giant slayer (successful & popular) and the writer of most the Psalms (spiritual).  But with all his accomplishments, strength, power and spiritual insights, he fell to temptation.

This story of David and Bathsheba could be ripped from the headlines today. Someone who receives great power and says, “I’m exempt. It can’t happen to me.” They fall into temptation.  Often one of three G’s:  Girls, Gold or Glory gets them.

1 Corinthians 10:12, says, “If you think you are standing strong, be careful not to fall. The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience.”

The bad news is, “If you think you are standing strong, be careful.” If you’ve found yourself saying, “That couldn’t happen to me, be careful not to fall.

The good news is, “The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience.” In other words, they’re common temptations. In fact, as I study human nature, as well as the Bible, it seems like the Devil only has about a half a dozen tricks. He constantly throws those in front of us, but we constantly fall for them.

I have to admit that I’m tempted. Here’s why. Denial is potentially worse than admitting I’m tempted. Why? I let my guard down, I think I don’t need to be accountable or I become careless.

Will you admit that you are tempted?  It’s the first step, secondly,

  1. See the bigger picture: the end results and spiritual dimension.

A lot of the temptations I face are physical in nature. I like sweets, I get hungry, I like sex. There’s also a physical side to addictions. There are genetic dispositions that once we engage alcohol, drugs and certain chemicals the physical drive is really there.

But I also want you to know, at its core, ALL temptation is spiritual. Ultimately the struggle we’re in is not just physical, it’s spiritual. I have to acknowledge that.  You need to as well.

Our tendency compartmentalize everything: work life, home life, family, hobbies and church and go from one into another as if they are not actually related.  It’s true in temptation as well.   “A one night stand, just this once won’t affect anything. It’s just one drink. It’s just one _____.”   That kind of thinking eventually leads to heartbreak, jail, addiction or worse.   Everything is connected. What we do Friday affects us Saturday or years to come. God made us not only physical beings but how else?  He created us mind, body and spirit.  Not only that, but everything has consequences that ripple beyond the event.  That’s why the bible mentions a spiritual enemy that seeks to destroy us using temptation.

Peter 5:8., “ Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy the Devil He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.”

Here’s how this works.  The devil tries to convince us that if we just give in to temptation, it’s for our best interest. He tries to convince us that God is keeping something from us.  And that if we just give in, that’s where real life is, that’s what will satisfy us the most.

Ultimately all temptation is the temptation to trade God’s best for something less.

We trade God’s best future for something we can taste, see, and feel right now. When we make this trade, it leaves us feeling empty. It leaves us craving more.  That’s why the temptation can turn into an addiction so quick, because it doesn’t satisfy long‑term. The word the Bible uses for that is “slavery.” It says, “You are a slave to sin.” (John 8:34). Our culture calls it addiction, but it’s the same thing.

Think of the end results of each temptation. When tempted sexually, like David was with Bathsheba, realize what’s going on. See the bigger picture.  It’s not just a physical choice that affects your body now; it’s a spiritual battle that’s going to affect every other area of your life for years to come.  For David his actions lead him to murder, lose two children, a dysfunction family, and almost lose his kingdom in a civil war. (2 Samuel 11-15)

Thirdly,

  1. Steer clear of people and places that tempt me

Since we are talking about David, let’s pick back up there.  David committed adultery with Bathsheba because he allowed himself to be in the wrong place and look at the wrong person too long. (2 Samuel 11:1-4) Everyone is capable of falling into temptation. I am and you are too. The key is to make it difficult, not easy. The Bible gives some very specific advice, which is “run away” or “flee” (1 Corinthians 6:18) from temptation.

If going up on the roof and looking at a women tempts you, the Bible’s very practical, don’t go up on the roof.

If going into the bar causes you to drink too much, the Bible’s very practical, don’t go into the bar.

The way that men are most easily tempted sexually is through our eyes. When we see a sex scene on a movie/T.V. show, or we see a picture or a video clip that is revealing or sexual in nature.  it does something inside us: a rush of adrenaline, a jolt of hormones that makes us want more. This is why internet pornography is so addictive.

Did you know that there is software that you can install on your computer that will either block those sites, which is very biblical to steer clear of them or it will send the websites you visit to an accountability partner?  One that I’m familiar with and that Promise Keepers and Focus on the Family recommend is Covenant Eyes.  Go to

www.covenanteyes.com/Accountability

If pornography on the Internet is an issue for you, I want to challenge you to find a way to overcome it. I want to challenge you to be accountable with your Internet use.

Also be careful of the people that you hang around with.

1 Corinthians 15:33 says, “Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.”

For example, if you’re married and there’s someone at work that’s caught your eye or you’re beginning to flirt and enjoying it.  It would be best to avoid that person. I know that’s easier said than done but necessary.

A painful experience of mine in high school was the need to distance myself from the friends that I grew up with who were doing and selling drugs.  Some ended up in prison or dead.

I’ve even heard of people who say, “I’m getting off social media or not ‘friending’ certain people because exes and old girlfriends/boyfriends are trying to connect with me.  I just can’t be around that.”  It’s biblical. If you are trying to honor your marriage and family God will honor that decision.

What are the people, or places that you need to say right now, “God, with your power, I’m going to avoid those to overcome temptation.”

Lastly,

  1. Stay focused on God, not the temptation.

I’ve noticed the more I focus on the temptation, the stronger the temptation will be. But the more I focus on God, the stronger His power becomes in my life.

1 Corinthians 10:13, “But remember that the temptations that come into 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.”

If I say, “I just didn’t have a choice. I had to give in.” Nope. I had a choice. No matter how strong the temptation is, no matter how much the physical pull, God always gives me a way out. He will give you a way out too.

I don’t want to buy into a victim’s mentality, “I can’t help it. That’s just the way I am. Everyone else does it.” This verse is true, “God will be faithful, and he will give you a way out.”

It’s not helpful to compare yourself to others. I’ve heard people say, “Well, I look at Internet pornography, but at least I’m not committing adultery.”  Is that really a choice?

I want to write to those of you who think, “It’s too late for me.” No, it’s not. Choose today to honor God with the rest of your life. To honor God with your body, to honor God with your finances, to honor God with whatever area of temptation you face.

1 Corinthians 6:19‑20. “…You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price.”

If want to know how much you’re worth, look at the cross. This is how much God paid for you. This is how much he cares for you.

So you must honor God with your body.” How does that work?  Here’s an example. One day, a man went to see a counselor and said, “Every day in my mind, I see two dogs fighting for control. There’s a black dog and a white dog.” Well, this got the counselor’s attention. He asked, “Which one wins?  The man said, “the one I feed the most.”

You’re also in a ongoing struggle between temptation and God’s best. Choose today to go with God’s best. Choose to focus on God.   If you ever get to the point where you feel like you can’t help it, it’s because you’ve been feeding the wrong dog too much. If you feel like you’ve messed up, I want to show you the end of David’s story.

David’s adultery, murder and cover up had consequences, there’s no way to diminish that. All sin has consequences. But David learned from his mistakes, wrote a Psalm of confession and repentance. (Psalm 51)  By the time David got to the end of his life, he was living for God, doing great things for Him.

David’s son, Solomon, went on to build the temple project that started under David. The people of God went on to experience much blessing after David. When we fast forward hundreds of years to the New Testament, look at how David is described by God in Acts 13:22. It says, “David a man after my own heart.'”

You too like David can have the rest of your life be the best of your life.  Confess, turn from temptation to God and stay focused on him.  That’s what I want to do.

Darrell

www.RidgeFellowship.com

 Bible Translations:  New Living Translation, New International Version

 

About dkoop

Lead Pastor of The Ridge Fellowship: Leander, Jarrell & Taylor, TX
This entry was posted in Overcomer. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s