Summary: Do you want to pass the test of temptation? REQUEST help from God, REFOCUS your attention and REVEAL your struggle to a friend.
THE TEST OF TEMPTATION
Sometimes we sinful human beings are just like the wolf of the Arctic regions whom the local peoples used to catch without having to hunt them down. They simply put some fresh meat on a sharp blade and let the wolf do the rest of the work. The wolf with its insatiable appetite not only would eat the meat off that blade but in the process would lick the blade clean, slicing its tongue in the process. Then the wolf would become an easy target to kill or it would die by bleeding to death. In it's desire for food it did not realize what it was doing to itself.
Temptation is the world's oldest problem. It's been around since Adam and Eve. We all have areas of weakness. For some it is their temper. For others it might be over-eating, pornography, or drinking. We all have areas in our lives where we fight for control. The good news is that God wants to help us get control of our life. He wants to help us overcome temptation.
1 Cor 10:13 No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. 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 stand up under it.
A man was late for an appointment to a downtown office building and ended up parking in a No Parking Zone. He wrote a note to "bribe" the cop and he put it under his windshield wiper. "I've circled this block ten times and I have to make this appointment or my boss will be upset with me. `Forgive us our trespasses'" When he got back he found a ticket on his car and the officer had written a note, "I've circled this block for ten years and if I don't give you a ticket, my boss will be upset with me. `Lead us not into temptation'"
Jesus taught us to pray saying “Lead us not into temptation.” He was saying by this that we all need God’s help in overcoming temptation in our lives. So how do you overcome temptation? There are 3 things we need to remember:
1. REQUEST HELP FROM GOD
The boy was standing near an open box of cookies at a grocery store. The grocer approached the boy and said “Now then, young man, what are you up to?” “Nothing,” replied the boy: “Nothing.” “Well it looks to me like you were trying to take a cookie.” “You’re wrong, mister, I’m trying not to!” That is temptation. It is trying to not do something you know is wrong.
Sin gets its power by persuading me to believe that I will be more happy if I follow it. The power of all temptation is the prospect that it will make me happier. -- John Piper
To overcome temptation we need to deal with it in the correct way when it appears. We need to see temptation from God’s perspective. One of the wrong ways that people handle temptation is that they allow it to lead to condemnation. Have you ever been praying and all of a sudden the weirdest idea from left field comes into your mind? You think your not even a Christian to have such thoughts. Where did you get an idea like that? The devil uses temptation to bring condemnation into our lives.
Temptation leads to 3 common reactions. The first is ALARM - how could I think such a thing? I must be a terrible disgusting person. The second is FRUSTRATION – why do I keep falling in the same area. The third is DISCOURAGEMENT – I am never going to be able to change.
This passage from 1 Corinthians tells us a lot about temptation. The first thing I want to point out is that it says that temptation is COMMON. Temptation is normal. It happens to everybody. We're all in the same boat. Anyone who says they are never tempted is a liar.
It is not a sin to be tempted. It becomes sin when we give in to temptation. The Bible says even Jesus was tempted. The Bible says He was tempted in all areas we are yet He did not sin. Someone once said "You cannot keep the birds from flying over your head, but you can keep them from building a nest in your hair." You can't keep all the thoughts the devil wants to put in your mind out of your mind but you can reject them when they come.
A lot of people live under unnecessary condemnation, particularly Christians. They say, "How could I think such a thing? I thought I was beyond that!" No, you'll never outgrow temptation. The closer you get to the Lord, the more the devil is going to work on you. You don't have to feel guilty about temptation. It's not what you think but what you do with it that makes a difference.