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5 Ways to Win the War With Temptation

5 Ways to Win the War With Temptation

One of the most amazing creations of God was Eve. She was unique, the last creative act of God during the first week on earth. Eve was created pure and holy to minister with and to Adam as they lived in the Garden of Eden, a perfect place of pure beauty.

Adam and Eve enjoyed perfect intimacy with each other and intimacy with God unhindered by sin of any kind. Then temptation came, and everything changed because Eve gave in to that temptation. With one wrong choice, she became a willing tool of Satan and caused the fall of humankind. Eve lost the war with temptation, but we don't have to.

1 Corinthians 10:13 "God is faithful. He will keep the temptation from becoming so strong that you can't stand up against it. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you will not give in to it."

The life of Eve offers several actions we can take to win the war with temptation.

1. We must understand temptation.

James 1:13 "When tempted, no one should say, 'God is tempting me.' For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone."

Temptation is seduction, lure, bait, or a trap. Temptation is not a test from God but a trap from Satan.

A woman was married to a frugal man. When she told him she was going window shopping, her husband's response was firm, "Look, but don't buy!" When the woman returned with a shopping bag in her hand, her husband was not happy. "What's in that bag?" he asked. His wife smiled and said, "A dress! When I tried it on, Satan said, 'It sure does look good on you!'" The man sternly replied, "That's when you should have told him to get behind you." The woman explained, "Oh! I tried that, but when he got back there, he said the dress looked even better from the back.'"

Temptation is certain. Everyone will face temptation. Jesus did.

Hebrews 4:15 "For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one (Jesus) who has been tempted in every way, just as we are --yet without sin."

Temptation wears a disguise. Satan came at a time and in a way that neither Eve nor Adam expected. The enemy disguised himself as a snake. Satan always uses a disguise.

2 Corinthians 11:14 "Even Satan can disguise himself as an angel of light."

Satan is not obvious. He is subtle and cunning, mixing half-truths with the whole truth. He never shouts. He whispers. But make no mistake that his goal is to destroy our lives – and he always begins with temptation. Eve sinned when she chose to agree with the enemy's lies because that mental choice led to the action of disobedience. Temptation is not sin. It is an invitation to sin.

2. We must prepare for temptation.

1 Thessalonians 5:6 "So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be alert and self-controlled."

If we want to resist sin, we must always be ready to face temptation. When we let our guard down, the minute we are unprepared, the enemy strikes. How can we stay prepared? Be alert. To be alert is to keep watch constantly.

1 Peter 5:8 "Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour."

If you are not seeking God, Satan is seeking you. The best way to stay alert and the greatest deterrent to sin is the Word of God.

Psalm 119:11 "I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you."

When we put God's truth in our lives, it will be easier to recognize the lies of Satan. But when we get away from God's Word, we become an easy target for Satan. Sin will either keep us from God's Word, or God's Word will keep us from sin. And then there is the matter of prayer. We often think of prayer as a last resort when prayer should be our first response.

A kindergarten class visited a fire station. A fireman explained what to do in case of a fire, "First, go to the door and feel it to see if it's hot. If it is hot, fall to your knees. Does anyway know why you should fall to your knees?" A little voice spoke up to say, "Yeah! To start praying, asking God to get us out of this mess!" The power to withstand temptation flows from a playing heart.

Matthew 26:41 "Keep alert and pray. Otherwise, temptation will overpower you. For though the spirit is willing enough, the body is weak!"

Satan desperately wants to keep Christians from praying. Our prayerless studies and prayerless activities don't frighten Satan. He laughs at our religious activities and mocks our so-called human wisdom. But Satan trembles when we pray. I have often wondered what choice Eve would have made if she had talked to God about Satan's temptations.

Eve made the wrong choice. She chose to yield to her human frailty instead of practicing self-control. We are tempted just like Eve was tempted.

1 John 2:16 "For everything in the world--the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does--comes not from the Father but from the world."

When Eve ate that fruit, it was more than just a rebellious act. It was choosing to value her desires over God's will. Adam was just as guilty as Eve – not just because he ate the fruit, but because he said nothing. Silence is always agreement. Adam was given a role of leadership in Eve's life. Unfortunately, he failed in that role. Self-control is not just refusing to do the wrong things. It is the choice to do the right thing, to be ready to face temptation. Preparation for facing temptation means practicing self-control, praying continually, and being alert.

3. We must learn from temptation.

Jeremiah 35:13 "This is what the LORD All-Powerful, the God of Israel, says: 'Jeremiah, go and tell the men of Judah and the people of Jerusalem. You should learn a lesson and obey my message,' says the LORD."

Giving in to temptation always results in sin. Our choices have lasting consequences that we must learn to accept. Painful consequences always accompany sin. Why? Because consequences are a great deterrent to sin and proof of God's love.

Hebrews 12:11 "No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it."

When Carol Everett opened the first abortion clinic in Dallas, Texas, she became very wealthy. She and her family lived in luxurious homes, drove the newest cars, and seemed happy and contented. Then Carol met Jesus Christ. She saw her career through new eyes and knew she had to close the clinics. Carol lost everything and finally had to sell her home. That's when she met a realtor named Norma Southerland, my mother-in-law. As Mom helped Carol work through her difficult circumstances, they became friends. Mom did not understand why Carol had to suffer so much. "Mom, Carol is responsible for the murder of thousands of babies. Now she has to face the consequences of her decisions," I responded.

Like Adam and Eve, we try to avoid those consequences instead of facing them and learning from them. It is much easier to rationalize our sin than analyze it and learn the lesson. Like Adam, we try to shift the blame. Adam complained to God, "It was that woman you gave me." Eve did the same thing, "The serpent deceived me," and ever since our cry has been, "The devil made me do it." The only thing more painful than learning from experience is not learning from experience.

Truth does not change! We must change in response to the truth. When we don't change, we are doomed to make those same mistakes again.

My husband was a youth pastor for many years. Each summer, we took a youth group to Ridgecrest, a conference center in North Carolina. Mornings were spent in classes and nights in a worship service. The afternoons were spent enjoying the beautiful mountains and the wonderful outdoor activities. One of those activities was tubing. We heard about a secluded spot where we would not have to wait in line so long for the chance to float down the river. The place was so secluded that we got lost the first year trying to find it. When we finally arrived at the tubing spot, we only had about an hour left. The second year, we got lost again. I finally decided to write the directions down – which would have been a great idea if I had remembered to take them. One wrong turn made us go around the mountain again.

We must go back and destroy the paths that lead us in the wrong directions. Those paths include old behavior patterns, destructive relationships, bad habits, and even jobs that encourage us toward sin. We must learn from temptation.

4. We must celebrate forgiveness.

Jeremiah 33:8 "I will cleanse away their sins against me, and I will forgive all their sins of rebellion."

God's anger is real, but God's grace is more remarkable. As often as we sin, he chooses to forgive. God took the initiative to restore his relationship with Adam and Eve.

Genesis 3:8 "Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day."

He took that same initiative with us when he sent His son, Jesus, to pay for our sin. God came looking for Adam and Eve. He knew where they were, but he came in person, offering the opportunity to repent. In the same way, God comes looking for us.

Romans 5:8 "But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners."

Eve was the first sinner, but she was also the first to receive God's grace and forgiveness.

5. We must receive restoration.

1 John 1:9 "But if we confess our sins, he will forgive our sins. We can trust God. He does what is right. He will make us clean from all the wrongs we have done."

Eve's relationships were restored, and she had children. She lost one son, Abel, but conceived another son, Seth. Seth lived a godly life, and through his lineage, Jesus Christ was born. A complete cycle of forgiveness and restoration.

An exhausted Dad came home from work, ready for an evening of relaxation. Grabbing his paper, he headed for his favorite chair. His young son suddenly burst into the room, prepared to play. The man loved his son but needed some quiet time. Glancing at the paper, he saw a huge picture of the earth. He cut the image into pieces, different shapes, and sizes and handed the pieces to his son. The dad explained that he would be ready to play after putting the puzzle together. The little boy ran off, the dad settled into his chair, confident in his plan. But in five minutes, the little boy was back, the completed picture in his hand. "How did you do that so fast, son?" the dad asked. "I looked on the back of the pieces and saw a man. I just put the man together, and the world came together, too," the little boy said.

Jeremiah 15:19 The LORD replied, "If you return to me, I will restore you so you can continue to serve me.

We can win the war with temptation if we:

1. Understand temptation

2. Prepare for temptation

3. Learn from temptation

4. Celebrate forgiveness

5. Receive restoration

Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/CasPhotography

Mary Southerland is also the Co-founder of Girlfriends in God, a conference and devotion ministry for women. Mary’s books include, Hope in the Midst of Depression, Sandpaper People, Escaping the Stress Trap, Experiencing God’s Power in Your Ministry, 10-Day Trust Adventure, You Make Me So Angry, How to Study the Bible, Fit for Life, Joy for the Journey, and Life Is So Daily. Mary relishes her ministry as a wife, a mother to their two children, Jered and Danna, and Mimi to her six grandchildren – Jaydan, Lelia, Justus, Hudson, Mo, and Nori.