Saturday, January 30, 2016

Learning How to Resist Temptation

I'm not sure how you came across this blog. Maybe you just happened to come across it, or maybe it just so happened to come across you. You might be thinking, "Ugh, it's just another person trying to tell people how to resist temptation." I'd like to think of this blog as a little more than a repetitive message you might have heard once or twice. Resisting temptation definitely isn't a new topic in the Christian world. We continuously hear about how to resist temptation, yet we still find ourselves giving in to our temptations over and over again. So that tells me that somewhere, somehow no matter how many times you've heard this, hearing it again won't hurt, because this message is still needed. One thing I love about the word of God, is that it NEVER loses weight. You can NEVER graduate from learning the word. It NEVER gets old and it NEVER runs dry. So then, why is it that we can hear the word so often and still have a stale response to it? I pray that whoever you are, wherever you are, that you would allow his words to penetrate your heart, whether this is your first time hearing about how to resist temptation or whether this is your 20th time, because you are likely to encounter such situations again. You might have won the last time, but in order to be victorious again you will need to be equipped with this word AGAIN.  

There's so much to say about this topic! I'll try to keep it short and sweet, but no promises. ;)
Here are a few points to remember when learning to fight against the temptations of this world:

1. I want to start off in Matthew 4:1-11 because it gives me great hope and confidence in this fight to resist temptation, and here's why: Jesus understands the temptations that we face here on Earth because He encountered them himself. God, being so rich in wisdom knew exactly what He was doing when He sent His son, in human form, to be tempted in the wilderness. In the greater scheme of things, he was made in human form for our redemption, but it was also so that He might understand the trials we encounter. Notice that the scriptures say, "Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted there by the devil," - Matthew 4:1 NLT In everything, Jesus was led by the Spirit. He was made in flesh, but did not walk in flesh. He didn't just decide to fast and go into the wilderness. He was led there and He was led there for a specific reason. So that He can not only show us how to resist temptation, but so that He might understand the things we face. When fighting against temptation, we must understand that we're not fighting alone. When we take on the mindset that we are fighting alone, we lose our dependence on God and we lean on ourselves rather than God. It is God's strength who is made perfect in our weakness. (2 Corinthians 12:9) That means we must rely on His strength to aid us in fighting against our temptations and not our own. Are you walking in a posture of humility and complete dependence on God?

2. We have to be strategic in fighting against temptation, because the enemy is strategic. We have to understand how he fights, so that we can fight back. Let's take it back to the creation story in Genesis, where temptation began in the garden of Eden.

"One day he asked the woman, "Did God really say you must not eat the fruit from any of the trees in the garden?" The serpent continues on to say, "You won't die! God knows that your eyes will be opened as soon as you eat it, and you will be like God, knowing both good and evil. The woman was CONVINCED." - Genesis 3:1-4 NLT

The serpent is strategic in his effort to undermine the sin and undermine God, by making Eve think her sin "is not that bad..." or "the worse thing that will happen is." The serpent undermines these sins to the point where they begun to sound convincing and they begin to sound good to us. And if we're not careful, if we're not standing firm on God's word, we give in and begin questioning and doubting God's word. If we're not careful, we may begin to discredit the word. We forget why God has given us clear instructions not to do certain things and then pride creeps in. We become prideful when we start questioning these things. We start wrestling between what God says and what we think, thinking we have all the answers and that we know better. When we give in to pride, we give in to sin. Pride is rooted in sin, because we are no longer taking on a posture of humility by walking in the Spirit, but we chose to walk in the flesh, which by nature seeks to go after the things opposite of the Spirit. So in order to resist temptation, we have to humbly position ourselves to stand firm on the word of God and walk after the things of the Spirit and not our flesh. Are you walking in a posture of humility?

3. In order to stand firm and fight against temptation, we must pray for wisdom, humility and  discernment. (James 1:5) We must pray for the wisdom and ability to discern those situations/people we should not be surrounding ourselves around. (1 Corinthians 15:33) When praying for wisdom and discernment it's important to walk in a posture of obedience. It would be counterproductive and prideful for us to ask God for direction and then do the complete opposite of what He tells us to do. However, so often we do this anyway. Sometimes we can foresee the dangers we are putting our self in and continue to walk in the flesh anyway. But to do this is foolish.

"A prudent person foresees danger and takes precautions. The simpleton goes blindly on and suffers the consequences." - Proverbs 27:12 NLT

4. When fighting against temptation, we have to understand exactly where the temptation is coming from.

 "Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death." James 1:14-15 NLT

Desires + Temptation = Sinful actions (death)
Here's how we break this down. Temptation comes from our desires. Our desires can lead to sinful actions, if we're not careful because of our constant wage between the flesh and the spirit and by nature, we will find our flesh wrestling against the spirit to give into these desires which are sinful. (I know, I keep bringing this up. But notice how it relates to almost every point I've made.) Continued indulgence in our sinful actions can lead to death. This speaks to my heart on so many levels, because it always goes back to the posture of our hearts. Wherever your desires are, is where your heart will be. That's why it is important for our desires to be in alignment with God's desires. Now, we're human. We have desires. But how does this relate as we talk about temptation? Let's say you have a desire to drink alcohol. That's not a bad thing. But if you don't know you're limits and find yourself being tempted with drunkenness, you will find yourself being enticed by this desire, eventually slipping into sin.

5. The last point I want to make ties back into humility. You might have picked up on this connection between sin and pride in this blog. It's a theme in this blog, because I hope to show you how pride can cause sin. At times we think we are strong enough to face our weaknesses and our temptations, which is a huge mistake. So we still attend those parties, and tell our self, "I'll be fine! I'm not going to get drunk! I just won't drink.!" Or maybe we tell our self, "I can hangout alone with this guy/girl! If anything starts to go down, I'll leave. We won't have sex!" Or you might even be telling yourself, "I won't smoke that blunt. I'll just hang out with these friends and if they ask me, I'll tell them no." The next thing you know, you're drunk.. The next thing you know, you're fornicating. The next thing you know, you're smoking that blunt. So often we fall because we put our faith in our own strength to get ourselves out of these situations. By that time, it's already too late, when you're already in it! Your desires have already enticed you, and now you're about to be dragged away into your sinful action! When fighting against temptation we must not have more faith in ourselves, than we do in God. We must not think we're strong enough to stand face to face with out temptations without falling.

"If you think you are standing strong, be careful not to fall." - 1Corinthians 10:12 NLT

Lastly, I want to leave you with this:

When fighting against temptation remember:
You're belt of Truth: So that you will not give into the seed of doubt that the enemy tries to plant to make us undermine our sin and undermine the truth of God's words.
You're breastplate of Righteousness: We must be righteous, just as He is righteous. When you do what is right, it shows that you are righteous, even as Christ is righteous. (1 John 3:7)
You're sandals of Peace: Remember that we are not meant to walk alone and encounter these temptations alone. We have peace in knowing that Jesus understands because He has encountered the same temptations as us when He was led into the wilderness to fast and be tempted. Since He understands, it should give us even more reason to lean on Him in time of testing!
You're shield of faith: Remember not to put faith in our own strength to stand firm when faced with temptation. We must stand firm with God as He equips us to fight.
Your helmet of salvation: Remember the one who has overcome and our freedom from being slaves to sin. Therefore, there is no guilt and condemnation when we fall short of His glory because He separates our sins as far as the east is from the west. We now have eternal salvation through Jesus Christ.
The sword of His spirit (His word): Remember that walking in sin is walking in pride. Walking after the things of the flesh is sinful, so we must walk after the things of the Spirit. The only way to stand firm is if we are standing firm on His word, which builds a solid foundation for us when these temptations come.