Where Overcoming Temptation Begins

We are more than physical creatures with physical needs. Notice in most prayer meetings that you’ll hear requests for God to help with the tangible needs. That’s fine, except it often ends there.

Where Overcoming Temptation Begins

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We don’t always realize how desperate our need is for truth beyond the tangible.

The trouble is, when we face temptation, our challenge is anything but physical—even when the temptation appeals to a physical needs or desires.

Overcoming temptation begins long before temptation.

Jesus shows us how.

Blame Shifting our Blunders

Finger pointing is hard-wired into our hearts.

In fact, it started early in human history. Like, really early.

Blame Shifting our Blunders

(Painting by Domenichino. Public domain)

In the Garden of Eden, God confronted Adam and Eve after they sinned, and their reaction set the course for an entire race of blame-shifters.

We’re still shifting the blame (and getting blamed).

The solution is the same today as it was then.

4 Strategies to Fight the Tug of Temptation and Sin

In my previous post, I wrote about a Christian’s struggle with sin and 4 lies we believe about our sin.

Let’s take it a step further.

4 Strategies to Fight the Tug of Temptation and Sin

(Photo by Tech. Sgt. Dan Neely. Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

In addition to taking a defensive mindset against the lies we often believe, we need to take an active approach to sin and temptation.

Here are 4 basic strategies to help you battle the tug of temptation and sin on your heart.

Hurling the Sin We’ve Swallowed

I went to a movie with a friend, and he gorged on popcorn, cokes, and candy. As the movie was about to end, he leaned over and whispered: “I don’t feel good. I’ll wait for you in the back.”

As I walked out, I saw him holding his stomach and twisting his face. “You want me to drive?” I offered.

“No, no, I’ll be okay,” he said.

On the way home, he slammed on the brakes, opened his door, and hurled in the street.

“You sure you don’t want me to drive?” I asked again.

Hurling the sin we're swallowed

Photo: Design Pics, via Vivozoom

“No, no,” he said, breathing heavy. “I—I feel better now.”

We drove another hundred yards, and he slammed the brakes on again! (The seat belt began to hurt my shoulder.)

Later he told me after he got home he spent some time in the bathroom. I can imagine that point in his ordeal—as he leaned over the commode and begin to experience the candy and popcorn for the second time—that he asked himself: Why in the world did I ever eat this?! Talk about regret!

I can think of no better illustration of sin and temptation in our lives than this true story.

In fact, that’s what happened to a man named Lot.

How to Resist Temptation Like Jesus

Everybody faces temptation.

And on some level, everybody has fallen to it. Everybody but Jesus.

How to resist temptation like Jesus

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I have walked in the wilderness where Satan tempted Jesus.

Good grief, what a place. As far as my eye could see, it was empty, dry, and depressing. I tried to imagine the solitude and struggle Jesus would have endured for over a month. But I could not.

How did Jesus resist temptation here?

Revealing the Lies of Temptation

Congratulations, Mr. Stiles, you’ve just won an all-expense paid trip to Hawaii!”

“No thanks.”

“You mean . . . you don’t want it?” I hung up. It was a short conversation.

Revealing the Lies of Temptation

(Photo: Design Pics, via Vivozoom)

A solicitor does not call to give anything—unless he or she ultimately gets more back in return.

I have discovered the devil is the same way. Satan knows how to market to people. He’s been doing it a long time. From the beginning, in fact.

Two Life Lessons from Fishing Lures

Cold and blustery. Hardly anyone at Lake Ray Roberts. Five dollars for worms. Hooks snag in the underwater weeds. Worm guts under the fingernails.

Fish won’t bite. A hook pierces my thumb.

(Photo: by Túrelio, Creative Commons)

“Daddy, a stocked pond might be more fun,” I heard over my shoulder.

We fished with worms, hooks, and bobs while a nearby man cast a fishing lure with his rod. As we were leaving, this man caught a bass!

We caught nothing. Go figure. But his success got me to thinking.

Temptation’s Lie: The Devil Made Me Do It

More than thirty years ago Flip Wilson kept America in stitches with his television characters “Reverend Leroy,” the friendly, pompous pastor of the “Church of What’s Happening Now,” and “Geraldine Jones,” the sassy African-American woman in a miniskirt.

Whenever Geraldine would impulsively buy a dress—or do anything she shouldn’t—she excused her urge by blurting the line she made famous, “The Devil made me do it!”

America laughed at Geraldine for her obviously lame excuse. In fact, to say, “The Devil made me do it,” became the rage all over the country.

A widespread theology exists that seems to be a strange mix between Reverend Leroy and Geraldine. We find ministries with leaders who point to the Devil and his imps for the sins that plague us. For example, one very radical ministry told a Christian woman who visited them that her problems came from a “legion” of demons within her, and in order to get rid of them, she needed to vomit them out right there in church! Others are told they have a “spirit of divorce,” a “spirit of lust,” “neglect,” or “procrastination.” These spirits are blamed for people’s sins, and the solution to these sins then becomes casting out the spirit causing them. Geraldine would be proud.

Frequently the Bible uses the word “spirit” to refer to a demon, often attaching a descriptive word or phrase such as “unclean spirit” (Mark 1:23), “evil spirit” (Acts 19:12-13), “spirit of infirmity” (Luke 13:11), and “deaf and mute spirit” (Mark 9:25). Words such as “unclean” and “evil” describe the nature of the spirit itself. But phrases like “spirit of infirmity” and “deaf and mute spirit” describe the particular affliction the spirits cause.

Unfortunately, many people launch from these verses into theological error when they confuse affliction with transgression, naming a demon after their sin.

The Bible never describes the work of demons in the lives of believers directly in terms of immorality. In other words, to say a believer has a “spirit of lust”—as if his real problem is a demon—assumes something the Bible never teaches. The demonic realm can influence a believer’s morality. However, God’s Word describes demonic influence in a believer’s life not as “possession”—or even “oppression”—but primarily as temptation.

So, how should we respond to temptation? We must know and hold fast to the Word of God. When Satan tempted Jesus in the wilderness, the Devil again tried to muddle God’s Word, as he did with the woman in the garden. But Jesus not only knew the Scripture, He clung to it—and sent the Devil packing (Matthew 4:1-11).

The best way to counter temptation’s tug is to choose to do what’s right. James 4:7 gives the strategy, “Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” A number of other great verses include: Ephesians 6:10-18; 1 John 4:4; Matthew 6:13; Matthew 26:41; Romans 6:1-14; Galatians 5:16; 1 Corinthians 10:13.

Mark it down as a fact: We will always struggle with temptation in this life. But God has not left us alone in the struggle. We cannot cast out temptation. But we can resist.

We have a great opportunity to glorify Christ by responding with faithfulness in the face of every evil enticement.

Taken from Wayne Stiles, “The Devil Made Me Do It?” Insights (July 2005): 1-2. Copyright © 2005 by Insight for Living. All rights reserved worldwide. Snake photo by Ltshears. “The Temptation of Christ” painting by Ary Scheffer, 1854. Public domain. 

Your Adversary, The Devil [Podcast]

1 Peter 5:8-14

The clear source of suffering is an enemy we can’t see and yet who’s on the prowl for those unprepared. So be prepared! Stand firm in your faith, knowing you’re not alone in the struggle, and the struggle is only a temporary state before an eternal glory.

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