Battling Temptation

This is a letter about being an overcomer in Christ.  Revelation 2:7, 11, 17, 26-28; 3:5, 12, 21 speak of what we as believers will inherit if we overcome sin and the evil one.  To achieve such victory, we must rely fully on Christ.  So where do we begin?

The Battle Against Temptation.
When it knocks, why do we answer?

Consider this a letter from the trenches. The guns are blazing and men are dying. This is a war that was started at the day of our birth and continues until we breathe our last breath. There are no cease-fires and the danger never ends. To stand, living, until the end, we must be alert at all times, never let down our guards, and prepare every moment for the next onslaught.

When you wake up, do you pray for the Lord to sanctify you, protect you, and use you that day? Even before that, when you lie down to sleep, do you pray for God to guard your unconscious hours of sleep? You cannot prepare too soon nor too much. Guys, when you’re bored and are surfing the channels or sites or maybe surveying the people around you, do you let your eyes linger on a tempting show/site/person? Girls, when you’re at the mall or store, do you covet that dress or lust after that guy as he passes? How about the books you read? Do you envy or fantasize about being the heroine who gets swept off her feet by that too-good-to-be-true hero? The point is that we are all vulnerable — no one is immune — and temptation is not limited to lust, sex, or material possessions. Positions socially or corporately and the esteem of others are equally tempting.

Avoid unnecessary attacks
So what can we do? James 4:7 says to “resist the devil and he will flee from you.” Remember, this is not in our strength that we stand (see Ephesians 6:10-17, Jude 9, Philippians 4:13). What can we do practically? Don’t entertain, even for a second, thoughts, images, or situations that can drag you down (II Corinthians 10:5). If that means a movie or TV show, turn it off or excuse yourself if you happen to be with friends/family. If the situation is a billboard you pass on the way to work, find a new route. If temptation stalks you at a necessary stop (grocery store, etc), take a friend who knows your struggle, but who doesn’t fight that same one, and ask them to keep you accountable and on focus for the purpose of the trip (bring them with you).

“But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts” (Romans 13:14).

Notice that I said any situation that can drag you down, not “will” drag you down that instant. You may be able to resist temptation for a while, even at/in “danger zones”, but continued exposure will eventually cause you to fall. Thus to walk righteously and victoriously with Christ, you must avoid even light or indirect exposure to temptation. Be extreme. Our God rewards those who walk zealously before Him (Numbers 25:10-13).

Reinforce your armor
So what else can we do to stand firm? A mind fixed resolutely on God and His holiness will not be easily led astray. How do we focus on the Lord and become myopic to temptation? First, fill your mind with scripture. David says in Psalm 119:11, “Your word I have treasured (hidden) in my heart, that I may not sin against You.” Memorize it; “You shall bind them (the words of scripture) as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead” (Deuteronomy 6:8) — practically, place it perpetually before you whether via PostIt notes or screen savers or wall art. Listen to it. Secular music can be fine but songs that exalt God will tune your heart to heaven — the only place that matters. Read it. We’ve all heard the speech about reading our Bibles, but this is for real — do it! What better way can we start or end (or both) our days than with the Word of the living God?

Second, plug into a body of believers that will edify and encourage you in the Word of God. Hebrews 10:24-25 says, “let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.” Lone Ranger Christians get killed. Do you know what piece of the armor of God in Ephesians 6 covers the back? None. As believers we need each other to stand strong, back to back, fighting the good fight. Remember, find a church that is set on the truth of the Bible — we are here for His glory. That is our primary purpose, not unity or spiritual gifts or fellowship. Those three and others will follow if believers will seek the Lord with all their hearts.

Third, pray. I Thessalonians 5:17 says to “pray without ceasing.” How do we practically do this? Work on praying about everything. When good things happen, thank God first before running to your friends or family. When trouble or uncertainty comes, pray and ask the Lord for direction, wisdom, and discernment on what to do or where to go. Ask Him to search your heart for sin or less-than-holy actions or motives. Then pursue Godly counsel as needed. These three — the Word, fellowship with believers, and prayer — are essential to a successful war against sin and temptation.

So then brethren, you are under obligation, not
to the flesh to live according to the flesh — for if
you are living according to the flesh, you must die;
but if by the Spirit you are putting to death
the deeds of the body, you will live.

Romans 8:12-13

(c) 2005 Veritas Road

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