Summary: Five principles for dealing with the temptations we face.
Ronald Meridith described in Hurryin’ Big for Little Reasons a quiet evening when he heard the sound of wild geese approaching in flight. He noticed the tame geese on his pond. “They heard the wild call they had once known. The honking… sent little arrows of prompting deep into their wild yesterdays. Their wings fluttered a feeble response. The urge to fly – to take their place in the sky for which God made them – was sounding in their feathered breasts, but they never raised from the water. The matter had been settled long ago. The corn of the barnyard was too tempting! Now their desire to fly only made them uncomfortable. Temptation is always enjoyed at the price of losing the capacity to fly.”
You and I struggle with temptation. We too often yield and the result is that we surrender our ability to rise to the heights for which God made us.
I’m not addressing you here as one who’s mastered it, but one who struggles, as you do.
All people everywhere face temptation many times every day. For one example, consider the lust for sexual pleasure through pornography. The porn industry generates $57 billion annually world-wide. $12 billion of that in the US. The revenue is larger than money from all pro football, baseball & basketball franchises combined.
There are 4.2 million pornographic websites (12% of all websites). This includes
100,000 websites dedicated to illegal child pornography.
20% of men admit to accessing porn at work. 13 % of women admit to the same.
47% of Christian men say porn is a problem at home.
9.4 million women access porn sites monthly. (Statistics from xxxchurch.com)
But there are many other ways we’re tempted. There are other forms of sexual temptation. You may be tempted to over-indulge in food, alcohol, or to use other substances. You may be tempted to waste time in useless activities when important things need your attention.
Perhaps you struggle with the temptation to sin with your words; in the kinds of jokes and stories you tell, in moments of anger, or destroying another with lies or gossip or slander.
Maybe you’re tempted to swell with pride because you’re so rarely tempted, and it’s even more rare that you give in and sin.
What temptation troubles you?
When tempted, we generally respond in one of two ways expressed in two familiar slogans: “Just Do It” or “Just Say No.” You know that the first is easier than the second. Oscar Wilde (the British writer) said, “I can resist anything – except temptation.”
God’s Word gives hope & help, assuring us that we can fight and win.
When Jesus gave a simple lesson on how to pray, He said our praying should include, “lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil…”
Notice He did not pray, “deliver us from temptation.” That’s because temptation is not what separates us from God and brings consequences. It’s how we respond to the temptation that makes the difference.
That’s where we need help; how to handle the temptations that inevitably present themselves.
To do that I want to help you share five principles that can be applied to most any temptation you face.
1. Pray for Purity.
I frequently use the Lord’s Prayer as the outline for my prayer time. One day while asking God to help me overcome specific kinds of temptation, it occurred to me the Bible instructs us to face this struggle in two ways. So I began praying for the courage to stand & wisdom to flee.
Courage to Stand:
"Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you." (James 4:7-8a, NIV)
A few years ago, Sharon and I spent a few days at Triple Creek Ranch near Galena, IL. It’s a retreat center for ministry couples. We enjoyed long walks through some parts of the ranch, and drove through some more remote areas.
In one section there were a number of Llamas. It was interesting to see how they behaved when they saw our car coming down the lane. They raised their heads high and walked straight toward us, even blocking our path. We weren’t sure if they were just curious or trying to pick a fight. But we did feel safer staying inside the car.
I recently read about Lexy Lowler, a sheep rancher out west. Coyotes were killing here lambs. She tried everything but nothing stopped them. Finally she discovered the llama.
She said, “Llamas don’t appear to be afraid of anything. When they see something, they put their head up high and walk straight toward it. That is aggressive behavior as far as the coyote is concerned, and they won’t have anything do to with that…. Coyotes are opportunists, and llamas take that opportunity away.”