Ever been tempted – I mean really REALLY tempted?
It could be anything that floats your boat. Anything that takes control of your mind and/or body. Whatever your personal temptation is it can be pretty BIG and so so hard to control.
Be it finances and spending, gluttony and addiction to food, pornography and the heaps of traps and pitfalls that entails, drugs of choice; alcohol or the so-called ‘hard’ stuff, lying, cheating on your spouse, smoking; whatever is banging away at your hearts door at the moment and is so hard to push away.
Both believers and non-believers struggle with temptation and that being said it is absolutely no help at all when your back is to the wall and you feel like the very dogs of hell itself and baying for your blood.
Many many times we have just ‘given in’ because it is just too hard to fight. We feel like we are all alone and to some extent in lots of ways as the world sees us, we are, because temptations are such personal things, no-one really understands our own exclusive demons.
We ARE all alone in the world’s eyes. “Get a grip” “get some help” “go to counselling” “push through it” are just some the worldly wise sayings when our temptations get the better of us and we finally seek help.
A friend of mine tried hypnotherapy to try to stop his temptations and lack of “willpower” to overcome them. The hypnotherapist gave him lots of advice, like “try listening to soothing music when you are tempted to stray” and “retire to bed early and focus your mind on a beautiful scene” and “try watching television before going to bed.”
All that seemed to do was to bombard his mind with messages and images that promoted his temptation and lusts. The poor lad was overcome with guilt and self-condemnation.
So where do these temptation thingies come from?
Well the first thing to say is that they don’t originate from God! – God cannot be swayed by evil and obviously that is what temptation is. It says in James 1:13 “For God cannot be tempted by evil, and He himself does not tempt anyone”
Throw yourself back to the gospel of Matthew, where Jesus Himself was tempted.
I would like to add here that I feel temptation is not a sin BUT it becomes sin when we allow our thoughts to become actions! Take for example greed or envy or lust – these are sins of the mind and are truly sinful – we can act on these types of sins in our minds. In Matthew 5:28, Jesus deals with these ‘mind-type’ sins and takes them to a whole new level.
No one knows what you are thinking in your own mind – no-one knows what is lurking there. But you do and so does God! Basically these ‘mind sins’ are still sin even though they may not have been acted upon.
When we give in and ‘entertain’ these mind type sins, they can lead to all sorts of ‘actions’ and eventually they will replace our relationship with God with a relationship with the world.
Back to Jesus in the wilderness. Tempted sorely by Satan. He was there forty days and nights. Makes me wonder how many other temptations Satan hit Him with other than the ones listed for us.
What was Jesus’ reaction to temptation? Well, His amazing come-back to the evil one was “it is written”. Satan can’t do a thing about what God has decreed in His Word. Jesus knew the scriptures backwards and knew exactly what to say when temptation’s evil came upon Him.
So what can we learn from this? If Jesus used the Word of God so effectively to ward off temptation then how much more do we need to immerse ourselves in the very same scriptures to do the same thing.
Satan’s temptations can be so enticing – we allow ourselves to get carried away with our own thoughts and lusts – the Word says so in James chapter 1:14. we make decisions we shouldn’t make – we go to places we know will lead us to more and more temptations. No wonder we fall so often.
So Okay – what do we do from here? Well, first of all we look to Jesus and His example as I have mentioned previously. We also need to be filled/powered with the Holy Spirit. All of our own efforts will be useless against the cunning and evil word of Satan.
Our minds need to be filled with Christ and His Spirit. Instead of filing our minds with stuff we know is only going to lead us to temptation, we need to arm ourselves with Christ and arm ourselves with the very power of God. How? by drawing close to Him daily, learning more and more of Him – asking His spirit to lead you away not towards your temptation.
On the night Jesus was betrayed, remember what He said to the disciples? “All of you must keep awake, give strict attention, be cautious and active and watch and pray, that you may not come into temptation. The spirit is indeed willing but the flesh is weak.” (The Amplified Bible).
If we start living like this, our temptations will begin to weaken and completely go, if not we will continue to be vulnerable to all sorts of devious activities authored by Satan.
As Jesus Himself said – our flesh is indeed weak – if we leave ourselves wide open to lustful, greedy, envious and jealous thoughts, then because our spirit in Jesus is so weak, we fall into temptation time and time again.
We need to put some muscle of our fleshly lives and we can only do that by drawing close to the best muscle maker of all – Jesus.
We certainly need to avoid thinking and acting like the world thinks and acts – we can’t keep playing the “Christian”and still hold onto our lusts and passions. We can’t keep playing with the world and have Jesus dangling by a string – a sure recipe for disaster. Avoid the obvious paths that will lead us to temptation and we all know which paths they are that affect us personally.
When you read Matthew 5:29 Jesus tells us bluntly about removing our eyes or limbs if they cause us to stumble into temptation. I don’t believe for a fleeting second Jesus meant literally to start removing body parts but He does want us to know how serious is temptation.
We need to do some pretty drastic housekeeping in our lives if we are to live for Jesus and avoid temptation and sin. We have to make sure we don’t go where temptation is rife and not to put ourselves in a situation where we know temptation will abound.
We need to call on His name when confronted by temptation and I mean to literally throw yourself at Jesus – call out His name loudly if possible and feel His presence holding you tightly.
Even if our spirit is so willing not to be tempted, don’t let our weakling flesh lead us into sin this week – start building muscle with God – reading His word, holding court with Jesus and learning more and more about Him. Hold Him ever close to you. Feel His presence with you wherever you go.
God bless you as you stride out with Jesus – boldly holding His hand with the grace He has already given to you. Take whatever steps are necessary for you to avoid temptation and YES! you can do this with Jesus by your side.
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