Now, Let's Not Get Carried Away . . .
"But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished , it brings forth death."
Have you ever gone on a diet? Let me tell you from personal experience, it is no fun. The first three letters of the word explain it best: D-I-E. A diet is dying to yourself and what you want to eat in the hopes of losing weight.
For me, a low carb/no carb diet has proven effective. The only problem is that within a day – sometimes hours – I start craving carbs. Pizza, chips and queso, desserts and other carb taboos start calling my name: “Hey, Jeff … just take a little bite. It won’t hurt you. After all, you are not THAT fat. Come on, Jeff. You know you want to.”
Have you ever had temptation do that to you? Have you ever had temptation call your name to get you to indulge the flesh or delight the eyes or build the ego? If you are like the rest of us humans, the answer is yes. We are tempted to lust, lie, cheat, steal, brag, hate, gossip, slander, etc. Temptation is an inescapable part of the human condition.
THE TEMPTER IS AT WORK
The devil is called “the tempter” in Matthew 4:3. Like a master fisherman, he loves to dangle the delicious, “forbidden” bait before our eyes. To be sure, the forbidden bait looks so good and so satisfying – just as it did to Eve. But, if you bite, you find the bait has a hook in it. The sweet pleasure of illicit sex quickly fades as the painful hook of guilt, shame, disease or an unwanted pregnancy come into being.
Every temptation has a hidden hook in it. The devil is not your friend who wants to bring happiness and fulfillment to your life. He comes only to steal, kill and destroy. Anything he offers will eventually wreck and ruin your life. Like the unsuspecting fish, we will enjoy the bait for a short time, and then find ourselves hooked and cooked, gutted and grilled. And it’s true every time.
HOW TO BE VICTORIOUS?
1. Remember that God loves you and wants what is best for you. When God gives us commandments, they are always for our benefit. Every NO command is God’s way of saying, “Don’t do that because that will hurt you.”
We told our kids, “NO!” to putting their hand on the stove because we knew they would burn themselves. We love our kids and gave them rules and commandments to help them, not hurt them. God does the same thing with His kids.
Disobedience is a step in the wrong direction. It will not bring lasting satisfaction, only lasting pain, sorrow and regret. If you doubt that, just ask Tiger Woods.
2. Remember that God’s ways are right in every situation. Psalm 119:128 is a KEY verse to remember when fighting temptation: “Therefore I esteem right all Your precepts concerning everything, I hate every false way.” The devil tells us that this “forbidden fruit” will make us happy. What a lie! It will really make us miserable. Like eating a huge helping of Cotton Candy at the fair, taking the devil’s bait will taste good for the moment, but as your stomach aches and your life begins to fall apart, you will wish you could go back in time.
Listen to me, my friend: God’s ways are right EVERY SINGLE TIME! You will never go wrong obeying Him. Every time you are tempted, recognize there is a hook there in that temptation and remind yourself that God’s ways are right. God’s ways bring lasting peace, joy and happiness.
3. Depend upon the Lord’s power to help you escape. 1 Corinthians10:13 tells us, “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, that you may be able to endure it.” What is the way of escape?
When you are tempted with the sins of the flesh – lust, laziness, overeating – the way of escape is accountability and a hard run. Flee immorality. Don’t fight it, flee it. It is too strong to fight. If you are on a diet, don’t go to an all-you-can-eat pizza place and say, “I’ll just have a salad.” That will never work. And get an accountability partner who will help you and pray for you.
When you are tempted with sins of the soul – greed, fame, revenge and getting more and more – the way of escape is to exercise faith (see 1 John 5:4). God is the One who satisfies, not fame, fortune, or a pound of flesh.
When tempted with the sins of the spirit – direct attacks from the enemy who will tell you that God doesn’t love you anymore, that God is finished with you and will not answer your prayer, and that you need to curse God and die – the way of escape is to fight! “Resist the devil and he will flee from you” (James 4:6). Fight the devil’s lies with the sharp sword of the truth of the Word of God. God’s promises thwart the lies of the enemy.
Victory over temptation can be yours as you trust Him, do what He says, and fill your heart with His love and grace.
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Jeff Schreve is Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church in Texarkana, Texas. He and his wife Debbie have been married for over 20 years and are blessed with three wonderful girls. Jeff began From His Heart Ministries, a radio and television ministry, in January of 2005. This ministry is completely listener/viewer supported. It continues only through the faithful and generous gifts of people like you. Pastor Jeff takes no salary from this ministry. All gifts go to further the broadcast.