Summary: I talk about some practical ways to successfully fight against temptation.
Last week we began a two part series on how to fight temptation. I shared last week that Jesus died to set us free from the power of sin in our lives. So, when temptations come we are able to say no to it because we are not enslaved to it. Before someone gives their life to Christ they are enslaved to sin. Which means one is just about guaranteed that you’ll give in way more times to the temptation than you would if you were a follower of Christ. The power that Christ seeks to bring into our lives can free us. Christ enables us to offer the parts of our bodies as tools of righteousness and not wickedness.
Jesus has done his work. He has revealed his will to us in the Scripture so that we will not be confused about the right thing to do. He has placed his Holy Spirit in our hearts to guide us and when necessary to convict us of our sin. He has put all these things in place for us. So, what do we do when we face temptation?
1). Use the Bible both offensively and defensively
In Matthew chapter 4 Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted. It is important to note here that the temptations come right after a very awesome spiritual experience. At his baptism the heavens opened, the Spirit came, and a voice was heard to declare him to be God’s beloved Son in whom he was well pleased. Three specific times the devil tempted the Son of God. Each time Jesus responds to the temptation by saying the words, “It is written.” It seems as though the first two times He uses the scriptures defensively. In other words the invitation to enticement is given so he immediately responds with a defense. Then, the third time Jesus goes into offensive gear. He says in verse 10, “Away from me Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.” In other words, Jesus is saying you’ve been speaking long enough. I’ll show you who really is in charge here. I am and you are to worship me! I don’t think it is any accident that the devil took off like a whimpering baby after this declaration.
We are able to use the word of God as both a defensive and offensive weapon. For example, when your buddies come to you and say, “hey, why didn’t you go out with us last weekend and get plastered.” Hopefully you will know God’s word well enough where you will say, “Well, because God’s word tells me that I am not to get drunk with wine (or anything for that matter) but I am to be filled with the Spirit.” In other words it is more important to me that my life is filled with the Spirit where I know that without a shadow of a doubt there is life than my life filled with alcohol where I could end up dong something I’ll regret. How do you use God’s word offensively? Let us for example pretend that you are a new Christian and you desire to spend a few minutes each morning for the rest of the week in prayer and Bible study? But you know that there will probably be a million distractions that will tempt you from keeping your commitment. So, what do you do. You take scriptures like Psalm 143:8, “Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way that I should go, for to you I lift up my soul.” You can use also Mark 1:35, “Very early in the morning while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.” This is using God’s word offensively.
Another thing we can do to fight temptation is to just run away from it.
2). Run away from temptation
How do you run away from temptation? Two ways: Physically and mentally. You run from temptation much like Joseph did in Genesis 39. Potiphar’s wife took notice of handsome Joseph and tried to seduce him. What does he do? He said, “How could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God? He ran out of the house! Run away. Do whatever it takes not to give in. Flee from temptation.
ILLUSTRATION: If you are channel surfing and you see something inappropriate you have two options. You can flee from it or watch it. I remember in college I was living with a family who were members of the church I was serving at. I was watching cable and I came across something that was inappropriate. I did the godly thing and changed it. But you know what I continued to flip through the channels. What do you know, I “coincidentally” found myself going back to that channel until finally I just kept it on that channel. A few minutes later all of a sudden the cable went out! I was scared silly. What I should have done was turned it off and went to my room and got away from it but I didn’t. I did like many of us often do I got spiritual. Oh Lord, you know this is a struggle and I just pray you’ll help me not to turn the remote back to that channel. My heart was already set on watching that even before I prayed. Don’t wait until a desire is conceived before you take action against temptation!