Summary: Temptations will come and God is right there with us when they do.
The Way Through
Purpose Driven Life #27
February 21, 2004
Sometimes, in spite of what we considered together last week, temptations seem overwhelming and seem that the only answer is to give in to them. Even though we might know that each temptation provides and equal opportunity to do the right thing as to do the wrong, the wrong can seem too appealing and it can appear like this temptation is simply too much for us to bear. The idea that a temptation is too much to bear and that you ’have’ to give in to the wrong is a lie from Satan.
God gives you and me a promise about this. This is a promise that I’m asking you to not only remember but to memorize so that it is with you in such times. There is always a way out and a way through these times of intense temptation.
1 Cor.10.13- "There is not temptation that comes on you that is not common to people. God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you can bear but will, with the temptation, provide a way to escape, that you may bear it."
This is a promise I have come back to many times in my life and one that I want to urge you to put somewhere that is readily available to you, too. Temptations will be a daily part of your life, and they are a sign that you’re both human and that you are one of God’s children. They are a part of life we might rather not have, but they are in our lives as opportunities to grow. There are actions you can take in order to maximize what God does in his work to provide your way of escape, which often is by taking right on through the temptation to the other side of it, victorious! He does sometimes take the temptation away, but not always. He knows what ’stuff’ you are made of and the resources he makes available to you, and his permitting a temptation to remain for awhile can be his expression of great confidence in you, as his daughter or son! See the positive- stop always seeing the negative in such times!
Last week, I urged you to not be intimidated by Satan’s stirring of temptations in you, and I asked you to understand your own pattern of temptations, and to ask for God’s help. Today, I want to give you four further keys to assist in becoming victorious over temptations.
1. Refocus your attention on something else. So often, we become products of our focus. People think that the best way to overcome something is to focus on it and the actions necessary to get it out of life. But that can only stir up the desire. If you want to diet and have to focus all the time on what you are eating or that you are not to be eating, what does it do? It makes you want to eat more, right? So, the answer is to focus on something else. The battle for sin is won or lost in your mind. We’ve been talking a lot about the mind, of late, and that change begins there, but that’s because we are cerebral. This is something God has built into us, which makes us greater than the other creatures of the earth. We are able to think and to reason and to focus. We are to use that ability and what better way to use that ability than to rebuild ourselves, or allow God to rebuild us, after God’s image? That’s what he wants.
Psa.119.37- David prayed that he would be kept from paying attention to what is worthless. We focus on so many things that are worthless so much of the time. Focusing on something that will take you away from God is focusing on something that is worthless. Put the focus elsewhere. Temptation begins by capturing your attention, which arouses your emotions, which lead to behaviour that has you acting on the temptation. The more you focus on "I don’t want to do this" the more you will move toward doing it.
Ignoring a temptation is more powerful than fighting it. Once your mind is on something else, the temptation loses its power. This may mean hanging up when it calls. This may mean walking away when it approaches you. This may mean declaring a strong ’no’ when it comes near you. This may mean getting up and turning off the television. This may mean asking someone else to stop talking when they are gossiping. This may mean leaving the theatre in the middle of a movie. Do whatever is necessary to turn your attention to something else. Get your mind occupied with something else and see the victory come to you- God’s victory, of course!