Tonight we continued our study in practical spirituality, looking at an essential topic for anyone who wants to live the Christian life–How to resist temptation. Here are the notes:
First, a definition: What is temptation? A test where the test is an invitation to use the good things God has created to do evil.
Why should we resist temptation? Why not just give in?
Because, to give in to temptation is to…
- …ignore God and act like he’s not there—it dishonors God.
- …hurt people and destroy things for the purpose of self-pleasure.
- …bring evil out of good.
How to Resist Temptation:
and some things you need to do.
What to Know:
- There is a tempter. (Matthew 4:3, 1 Thessalonians 3:5). So, this is personal.
- You personally have inclinations that can be tempted. (James 1:12-16)
- Temptation lies (Ephesians 4:22, Hebrew 3:13)
- Temptation wars against your soul. (1 Peter 2:11)
- It wants to bring you into slavery. (John 8:34)
- Jesus was tempted too. So he understands. (Hebrews 4:15)
- Jesus defeated temptation as a man. (Hebrews 4:14-16, Mt 4)
- Jesus wants to help you when you’re tempted. (Hebrews 2:17-18)
- There is a blessing in enduring temptation. (James 1:12, Mt 5:8)
What to do:
- Be alert. Know your context and watch it. Know and watch yourself. (1 Thessalonians 5:5-8)
- When you first smell temptation coming, pray. (Hebrews 4:16)
- Rely the Spirit’s power to put to death these sinful deeds. (Romans 8:12-14) We rely on the power of the indwelling Spirit by praying—ask him to help you, in that moment, and rely on his help by doing the thing God commands.)
- Remind yourself about what Scripture says about temptation.
- It lies. (1 Peter 2:11)
- It wars against my soul. (Ephesians 4:22) (it won’t bless me, it will break me. It will destroy others.)
The point here: Use the statements and promises of scripture to contradict the statements and promises of temptation.
- Do what you can to get away from it.
- “Flee.” (2 Timothy 2:2). Like Joseph from Potiphar’s wife. Run away, regardless of the cost or embarrassment.
- “Abstain.” (1 Peter 2:11) (be distant from, avoid contact with)
- “Cut off.” (Matthew 18:8-9) Take any action necessary to get sources of sin out of your life. If something tempts you, and you give in to it, get rid of it, regardless of the cost.
- “Put off.” (Ephesians 4:21-24) Get it off you.
- Look for the way of escape. (1 Corinthians 10:7-14)
- Notice it.
- Pray for help
- Then physically do what needs to be done. (walk away…turn your eyes…speak up… do your duty…say the loving thing…click off…hold still…hold your tongue…)
- Walk in the Spirit. (Galatians 5:16-21). Practice letting the desires of the Holy Spirit guide your life. This is a lifestyle.
- Remember Jesus is with us by His Spirit always. (Ephesians 4:30) He sees and knows everything. If we want him to never leave us, we need to remember that he is with us when we’re being tempted. If we want him to hear the prayers we silently think in our heads, we must remember he hears all our thoughts, not just our “prayer” thoughts.
General Practical Thoughts:
- Memorize scripture and use it during times of temptation. (i.e. Use verses to remind yourself—i.e. this temptation is lying, giving in will not produce the happiness it promises; this temptation wants to fight against me; this temptation will keep me from seeing God, this will grieve the Spirit, etc.)
- Cultivate your vision of God. So you never want to lose it. (Matthew 5:8)
- Diligently fulfill your duties. There’s almost always something in front of you that you need to be, or should be, or could be doing. Instead of just trying do nothing really and also trying to resist temptation, get busy doing what needs to be done.
- Pursue good works. Above and beyond your basic life duties, what Good works are you pursuing in? A life full of active service to God stands a good chance of staying out of sin, because it is full of good things. David watched Bathsheba bathe because he wasn’t out doing what kings should be doing.
- Avoid sparks. Your mind is made of tinder. Don’t get near things that set it on fire.
- Stop at nothing to get rid of sin. Make war. Romans 8:13—put it to death.
Summing it up: Pray, trust, act, pray.
Smell the temptation coming. Pray for help. Then act on what ever you need to act on by physically making your body do the next non-sinful thing. Continue with a duty. Remove yourself from a bad situation. The result? You will have resisted the temptation, and no sinned. You must do this every time you are tempted. It may be 30 times in a day.
If you’re not currently a follower of Jesus:
- Everyone around us is living a life of totally discovering and giving in to their desires.
- That is our culture’s way of salvation. By giving in to all our desires we’re supposed to find life and happiness and beauty and freedom.
- Jesus preaches the opposite. Many of our desires are twisted, and will destroy us and hurt others if we give in to them. Jesus says that giving in to the twisted part of us will lead to death and misery and brokenness and slavery.
(To see who might be right, there’s two important tests: 1. The Eye test—How’s everyone doing? How’s our world? Is this big party of giving in to every desire working? 2. The Eternal test—When Jesus comes, the verdict of God will reveal everything. Our witness to what that verdict will be is found in the pages of scripture. God has already told us what he’s going to say the. We can read it all now.
- And—Living this way will also make you guilty before God and incur his eternal judgment on you.
- Christ came to offer a better way.
- Since he died and suffered the punishment for all human evil, he now extends this offer to you:
- Decide once and for all to turn away from living out desires God calls shameful.
- Place your trust in Christ as your only hope for forgiveness and rescue.
- Call on God to receive his Holy Spirit.
…Then begin a life of living righteously by God’s power.