Points Covered: Dealing with temptation is a blog on how we can deal with different temptations in our life. Si practical steps to deal with temptation.
Joke: A couple were struggling to make ends meet after building their dream home. One day they went shopping, the man went to the men’s clothing section and wife to the women’s section. A little later the wife came with a Rs. 10000/- bill for a saree she bought. “How could you do this?!” Man asked. “I was outside the store looking at the dress in the window, and then I found myself trying it on,” she explained. “It was like Satan was whispering in my ear, ‘You look fabulous in that dress. Buy it!'” “Well,” the husband replied, “You know how I deal with that kind of temptation. I would say, ‘Get behind me, Satan!'” “I did,” replied his wife,” but then he said, ‘It looks fabulous from back here, too!'”
Temptation is a part and parcel of our life. Temptation started right in the beginning in garden of Eden. Adam and Eve succumbed to temptation and they blamed each other. Temptation came all the way to Jesus who was tempted by the devil but each time Jesus got victory over temptation.
What is the most powerful temptation you have faced in your life? What is the thing that makes you live in disobedience to the word of God? Is it possible for us to deal with temptation?
What is temptation? Temptation is man’s compelling desire to disobey God and do things his own way. Temptations can happen in every area of life.
BBC Study on Sep. 2016 states 1.36 million people in India are divorced. That is equivalent to 0.24% of the married population, and 0.11% of the total Indian population. The study further states that 1 out of every 1000 marriage ends up in divorce in India.
Another survey says one of the top 3 reasons for divorce in India is because of infidelity because of live-in relationships, social networking sites, and office romances.
US study, Buss and Shackelford research says 30-60% of married individuals engage in infidelity, 2-3% of children are born as the product of infidelity. Shocking, infidelity is getting very common below the age group of 30.
NSSO (National Sample Survey Office) survey of 2016 on Indian household shows 31.4% of rural household is on loan and 22.4% urban household are living on loans.
Every moment of resistance to temptation is a victory – F. W. Faber
Temptation is everywhere these days and it comes in all forms of ways. Financial temptation, temptation for pleasure, position, privileges etc. Is the heart of man so deceitful and desperately wicked that even at its best it cannot put up a proper guard over temptation?
How do deal with temptation? Open your Bible to 1 Corinthians 10:13 No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.
The promise of that verse is thrilling. No temptation has overtaken you, no temptation is overpowering. Satan is not so powerful, the human heart is not so deceived that we are necessarily a victim of temptation. In this verse there are some principles and if we can understand them dealing with temptation becomes very easy.
1. Understand the means of temptation.
1 Corinthians 10:13 No temptation has overtaken you…
Temptation wants to take control of you. Temptation wants to overtake you. Temptation wants to dominate you. The Greek word for this can be translated as “test or temptation.” The interesting note about these words is that tests and temptations are two sides of the same thing. Life is full of tests, every test, every trial potentiates a temptation.
Illustration: There was an office accountant who had been new to his job. Everyone had left the office one night and on his desk someone had left a huge sum of money. He immediately took the money, put it in his brief case and went home. The next morning when he came to work he immediately walked into the boss’s office and put the money down on the desk and said, “Sir, somehow someone left this money on my desk and I don’t know who it was ” His boss looked at him in the face and said, “I put the money there, it was a test. You passed.”
Life offers us those kinds of tests. This man went to his house and could have thought, “Nobody will know,” and began to battle in his heart, ” I could use that money, and I have ten ways to explain how I need that money,” then it would have become a temptation. Once the external becomes the solicitation (battle or allurement) of the heart, it’s turned into a temptation.
Temptation is an inward battle resulting from an outward test. Life is full of those kinds of tests. Tests can be financial stress. You’re in the midst of the test of financial setback and you say, “I’m just going to trust God for this. We’re going to live on less and we’re going to believe the Lord to provide.” You pass the test. If you say, “How can I steal, how can I cheat on my Income Tax, how can I not pay what I owe to someone?” you’ve moved it into a temptation because the external problem has become an inward solicitation to evil.
It could be personal disappointment. You had expectations of someone, they didn’t help. You either accept that with a trusting heart, love them in spite of it, or you begin in your heart to feel animosity and bitterness and now you’re dealing with temptation. It could be unkindness, it could be mistreatment, it could be injustice. It could be illness. It could be the test of death in the circle of your love. It could be the test of failure to accomplish something that you had dreamed for a long time. These are the tests that make up life. And when they go inside then they begin to solicit evil and they become temptations.
Look at James chapter 1 for an explanation of this internal processing. In James chapter 1 James talks about the fact that God is not involved in tempting anyone. James 1:13 When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone. God does not bring about an inward solicitation to do evil in anyone’s life.
Now go back to James 1:2-4 2Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4Let perseverance finish its work so that you maybe mature and complete, not lacking anything.
God sends tests but not temptations. 1 Peter 5:10 The God of all grace….after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm, and steadfast. So God allows the tests of life to make us strong but God never brings them to inward solicitation to do evil. God does not tempt.
How are we tempted? James 1:14-15 14Each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. 15Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.
Free cheese is always available in mouse traps. God will bring the test for spiritual maturity and perfection. It is your own lust that begins to produce the solicitation to do evil.
Our victory then I think starts with understanding the means by which temptation comes. It comes through the trials, tests, disappointments of life. When things aren’t going the way you want them in life and you’re facing a test, that is the means by which temptation comes to you. So watch how you respond to tests.
2. Nature of Temptation.
1 Corinthians 10:13 No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. Temptation is common to all. Temptation is human. Everyone is tempted.
The temptations that come to me, the temptations that come to you, the temptations that come to someone in spiritual leadership or someone in obscurity in the congregation of believers are all the same. We may have our peculiar besetting sins. We are all getting hit with what is common to all of us. Temptation is common to man.
Jesus experienced temptation. Hebrews 4:15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. In His enduring temptation He suffered the temptations that are common to man. Jesus is a faithful and merciful high priest to whom we can go and one who understands.
Galatians reminds us that: Galatians 6:1 Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. What he’s gone through can easily happened to you because temptation is common to all of us. It’s just part of human life.
So the means by which temptation comes to us generally is through the trials and tests of life. And the nature of temptation is not that it is some kind of supernatural power that is beyond us, it is what everybody else experiences.
3. The extent of temptation.
God knows your frame, therefore, God will not allow into any kind of temptation more than you could handle. 1 Corinthians 10:13b And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.
In John 18. The soldiers come into the garden to take Christ prisoner and the disciples are there. And Jesus says to the soldiers, “Who do you seek? And they said, Jesus of Nazareth. And He said, I am He. And they fell down.” The second time He said “I am He.” The Scripture says He did that in order to make clear that they had no right to take the disciples. Who do you seek? Jesus of Nazareth. Who do you seek? Jesus of Nazareth. I’m He. I am He.
In other words, He was putting in their own mouth the very clear statement that they had no right to take anybody but Him. Why? The text says because it was promised that He would lose none of His own who were given to Him by the Father. The implication being that had any of the disciples been taken captive they would have been too weak to sustain that temptation and would have defaulted from the faith so Jesus made sure they never had such a temptation. That’s a tremendous truth. The Lord never allows us at the point of our spiritual development to go through any temptation that is beyond our ability to deal with.
He puts limits on the extent of temptation. There’s a ceiling, there’s a cap, there’s a lid on what He will allow in the life of one of His own. God is faithful. He will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able.
4. The way out of temptation.
1 Corinthians 10:13c But when you are tempted he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. Endure it. Accept temptation as a test. Paul says with the temptation God will always provide the way of escape. There’s always a path to victory. There’s always an exit. There’s always a parachute. There’s always a way out.
What is it? The way out is to take it as a test and a trial and not internalize it so that it begins to solicit sin. So you’ve been wronged, you’ve been falsely accused, you’ve been maligned, treated unkindly and unjustly, accept it with joy and endure it, that is the way of escape. Accept temptation as a test, never turn it into a temptation. “Endure it” is to get under it, let it pass through. Usually we’re looking for a quick and easy route. The only way out is through it. You endure it as a test with the view that God is using this to bring about my maturity.
You say, “But how do you do that?”
5. Dealing with temptation.
a. See the big picture.
When tempted, the devil will show the pleasure of the moment, the outlet of the moment. But see the big picture. Remind yourself of the consequence of sin. What is the big picture? Death, consequences of your action. What is the big picture? Your position in Christ. It is not worth it. Keep asking questions in temptation, is it worth? Any temptation or pleasure is only temporary. Galatians 5:19-21 19The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
b. Be alert and flee from temptation.
1 Peter 5:8 Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Be alert and when the opportunity comes flee.
1 Corinthians 10:14 Flee from idolatry.
1 Corinthians 6:18 Flee from sexual immorality.
1 Timothy 2:22 Flee the desires of youth.
If you have to be alert and flee, your heart needs to be sensitive, so we need the word.
c. Meditate on the word.
Psalm 119:11 I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.
Psalm 119:105 Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.
The word of God will give you direction. When the word will prick your conscience, you have to flee. Without the word of God you will not be able to resist him. When the test comes you turn to the Word of God, you listen to that.
Matthew 6:13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. You turn to God and you cry out to Him to keep this test from becoming a temptation. You should prioritize praying for your temptations. You maybe praying for a lot of issues of your life, but your promotion comes only after you have passed the test of temptation. So pray.
e. Take the shield of faith.
Faith keeps you positive. Trust God no matter how the fiery darts may be coming at you, understand that God has a purpose and trust God for that purpose. Listen, the more godly you are, the more you are used by God, the more your temptation, the darts because satan wants to defeat you. So take up the shield of faith when you are going through a trial.
f. Think of your heavenly reward.
James 1:12 Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.
Now, there is no test that is more than we can bear. When we fall and the test becomes a temptation and the temptation becomes a sin, it is not that we are victims, it is that we made bad choices. And if we failed it’s because we took our attention away from Christ, the faithful high priest who can nurture us through it and we focused on something else. Commit your temptations into God’s hands today. Ask God to give you the strength to overcome it. Let’s pray.