Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Avoiding Temptation

The Believer needs to recognize the role of Scripture in overcoming temptation. The Psalmist stated, “Thy Word have I hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against Thee” (Psalms 119:11). When God's Word becomes an integral part of the believer's life, it fortifies that person against temptation's power. Christ Himself demonstrated the Word's power when He resisted Satan's temptations with a quote from the Old Testament (Matthew 4:7). A systematic, prayerful study of Scripture is an absolute prerequisite to defeating temptation. The Word not only warns of Satan's methods (II Corinthians 2:11), but it empowers against attacks (Ephesians 6:11-17).

Another essential to victory is to avoid temptation. On several occasions, Christ told His disciples to pray that they might not fall into temptation (Matthew 6:13; Luke 22:40). Some believers understand that temptation is not the same as sin, so then feel that they can enjoy the enticements of temptation without any harm. This behavior becomes a type of game—seeing how much titillation one can “enjoy” without falling into overt sin. Such an attitude is sinful in itself, for it fails to take seriously God's commands for holiness in attitude as well as in action.

One of the most crucial passages concerning temptation is I Corinthians 10:13.

“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.”

The Bible expresses compassion for us in our weaknesses as we cry out to the Lord for greater strength. But God's Word pronounces a scathing rebuke for hypocrisy and rebellion. We must check our hearts to be certain that our shortcomings are weaknesses and not hypocrisy. “Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.” If our minds are filled with the latest TV shows, music and all the rest the culture has to offer, we will be bombarded with messages and images that inevitably lead to sinful lusts. But if our minds are filled with the majesty and holiness of God, the love and compassion of Christ, and the brilliance of both reflected in His perfect Word, we will find that our interest in the lusts of the world diminish and disappear. But without the Word’s influence on our minds, we are open to anything Satan wants to throw at us.

The best way to overcome sexual temptation is to physically remove yourself from the situation where you are being tempted!

Even the earnest Christian must guard against hypocrisy. How easy it is to sing, "All to Jesus I surrender, all to Him I freely give," and then go out to live with some areas of our lives not given over to Christ.

Yet, there is a difference between weakness and rebellion. All of us struggle with weaknesses which we wish we didn't have and with which we wrestle in the grace of God to overcome. Rebellion expresses itself when we could overcome a sin if we wanted to but make no attempt to do so.

The Bible makes it so very clear that your sexual purity is one of the crucial issues in your relationship with God. Allow yourself to dishonour God in your sexuality, and there’ll be massive problems in your walk with Him. God will forgive sexual sin in your life when you turn to Him in repentance. But the goal of life is not daily forgiveness, but daily victory!

So, how do we find victory over sexual sin in our lives, whether it is sin of the mind or of the body? “Flee immorality.” Notice that it does not say, “Fight immorality!” If you leave yourself in that tempting situation and try to fight it, you may as well give up!

It’s worth turning off the TV, leaving the beach, moving to another city, changing your job, finding another hobby—whatever it takes—to remove yourself from the source of sexual temptation.

We need to renew our thinking as we are told in Romans 12:1-2. We must no longer think as the world thinks, or walk in the same way that the world walks. Proverbs 4:14-15 tells us, “Do not enter the path of the wicked, and do not proceed in the way of evil men. Avoid it, do not pass by; Turn away from it and pass on.” We need to avoid the path of the world that leads us into temptation because our flesh is weak. We are easily carried away by our own lusts.


Raj Kosaraju 

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