WHAT TO DO WHEN YOU'RE TEMPTED
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 your culinary desires 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 say something like that to you? Have you ever had temptation call your name, enticing you to indulge the flesh or delight the eyes or build the ego? If you are like the rest of humanity, the answer is a resounding yes. All of us 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 and shame take hold. Additionally, there can be disease or an unwanted pregnancy, as King David experienced.
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 moment, but quickly find ourselves hooked and cooked, gutted and grilled. And that tragic result happens every time we bite.
HOW TO BE VICTORIOUS?
How can you and I have victory over those things that tempt us so?
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.”
When our kids were little, we told them “NO!” to putting their hand on the stove. We did this 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 to make a different decision.
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 Corinthians 10:13 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 in the long run, and we all know it. If you don’t want to fall down, don’t walk in slippery places.
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, God is finished with you and will not answer your prayer, and you need to just throw in the towel and curse God and die—the way of escape is to fight! “Resist the devil and he will flee from you” (James 4:6). Combat the devil’s lies with the sharp sword of the truth of the Word of God. God’s promises extinguish the flaming arrows of the evil one.
Victory over temptation can be yours as you trust Him, do what He says, and fill your heart with His love and grace.
Pastor Jeff Schreve,
From His Heart Ministries
Dr. Jeff Schreve believes that no matter how badly you may have messed up in life, God still loves you and has a wonderful plan just for you. From His Heart provides real truth, love and hope on over 700 radio stations each day, in 182 countries each week on TV, and is always available online. Pastor Jeff takes no income from this ministry. All donations go to furthering the broadcast outreach. As a listener/viewer supported ministry, we thank you for joining with us to help speak the truth in love to a lost and hurting world. Go to www.fromhisheart.org for more information.