Of Legacies and New Year's Resolutions
- Friday, December 31, 2004
(1.) First we should thank God for the temptation; it is an opportunity for our personal growth. Begin with a prayer to God thanking Him for the trial. Remember, it is not a sin to be tempted - temptation becomes sin when we turn towards that temptation in the direction of sin.
(2.) Next we must move away from the direction of the sin. If it is coming at you, change your course. Put as much distance as you can between you and the source of the temptation - run if you have to.
(3.) As you are moving way from the source of temptation, quote scripture that you have memorized that applies directly to the area of temptation. For example, if your struggle is with sexual immorality, quote 1 Corinthians 6:18-20. Do this while you are moving away from the source of temptation.
You can get help from your pastor, an elder, or another qualified trained counselor in your church to help identify scripture that applies your sin and to help identify other spiritual disciplines that can be employed to reduce the incidence of temptation.
(4.) Find yourself an "angel of accountability." Confess to that person that there is a specific sin that you are struggling with and ask that person to hold you accountable in that area. More is said about accountability partners below.
(5.) Finally, make for yourself and carry around a "think and do list" specific to your particular sin - sometimes called a "Philippians 4 list." In Philippians 4:8-9 we read "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me - put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you."
So work with your accountability partner to make up a card or group of cards - one for each "whatever is..." in Philippians 4:8 - and come up with a list of things that you can do that would be admirable, or lovely, etc. This completes the process of dealing with the sin. The first part is to "put off" the sin; the last part is to "put something good on in its place." That is, do something good!
Your accountability partner MUST be willing to ask you pointed questions, such as the following two, each week; moreover, you must promise to answer honestly and to hide nothing from your accountability partner. The first question is "How many times were you tempted in your sin area this week?" The second question is "How many times did you turn towards the sin?"
As you struggle for freedom from sin patterns you will be tempted over and over again - consider keeping a detailed count of the number of times you are tempted for the purpose of tracking progress. It is NO sin to be tempted. We sin the moment we take a small step in the direction of the sin (rather than running away from the temptation). We sin the moment we hesitate from turning away from temptation. Again, to track progress, consider keeping, and reporting, a count of the number of times you actually sinned.
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