Temptations isn't something you'll ever grow out of as a Follower in Christ. At least not during this life time. Everyday, from the moment you get up until the time you lie your head back down to sleep you can be tempted to sin against God and people.
Temptation in and of itself isn't a sin. According to the Bible Jesus was tempted but didn't sin! If the most perfect person who has ever lived but did so being tempted, we should expect that we too will be tempted. The Bible does teaches that Christ's Followers can overcome temptation. We don't have to feel helpless and hopeless when it comes to temptation. Christ has made sure that we have all that we need to overcome it.
So today we are going to look at 6 Biblical principles that will aid us in our ability to identify and overcome temptation.
#1: Anticipate Temptations!
"Keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak." Matthew 26:41 (NASB)
In this passage Jesus is warning Peter, James and John to be watching and praying as a strategy to overcome temptation. Jesus says this the night he is to be arrested and while he is in the garden praying for his upcoming arrest. Jesus has already told Peter that before the rooster crows he will deny him three times. An hour earlier Jesus had asked Peter, James and John to pray with him during this time of struggle but when Jesus comes back where he left them to pray he found them instead asleep. Jesus was warning Peter that a time of temptation was headed his way and he needed to be prepared. That preparation was to watch and pray.
How often during the day are you looking around to see if you can see the activities of the enemy and ready to anticipate Satan's temptations? If you're not anticipating that temptation will be coming how can you be ready for it when it does come? In boxing there's a saying, "It's not the hardest punch that knocks you out but the punch you don't see coming." Likewise, it's not the severest temptation that will make you fall but the temptation you see coming! And why don't you see it coming? Because you weren't anticipating it!
#2: Understand Where Temptations Will Attack You!
"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." James 1:14-15 (NASB)
Where will temptations attack you? Where you are weakest! Notice what that verse says! We are tempted when we are carried away by our own lusts. I'm not carried away by someone else's lust. Satan will always attack us at our weakest point. He is looking for the chink in our armor and when he finds it that's where he will attack. If you have a weakness for gossiping - then Satan is going to give you temptation opportunities to to gossip! If your weakness is in drugs then Satan is going to hit those triggers that will cause you to want to get some drugs. It is in the area of your weakness Satan will tempt you to sin!
#3: Cry Out To God!
"Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I shall rescue you and you will honor Me." Psalm 50:15
What should you do in your day of trouble - in your day of temptation? Call upon God! When we are being tempted and I mean right in the midst of temptation, we need to learn to cry out to God for help! We need to do it right then and there before Satan's temptation gets a strong hold on us.
Did you hear God's promise? He says that if we cry out to him in our day of trouble HE WILL RESCUE US! It's not a may rescue you; or you should be rescued but he said he will rescue you. When we cry out for help, as His children, He will show up to help us. When God shows up to help us Satan flees and runs away. Bam! You're Then Rescued!
#4: Find An Accountability Partner
"Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much." James 5:16 (NASB)
Who do you have that you can call when you are going through a really difficult temptation? What Godly person do you know you can trust will not only can keep your confidence but also pray for your deliverance? Having that kind of person in your life will make the temptation experiences less daunting. Having someone you can call immediately when you are being tempted is such a great resource to getting through that time of testing.
#5: Run! Don't Resist!
"A wise man is cautious and turns away from evil. But a fool is arrogant and careless." Proverbs 14:16 (NASB)
Notice the wise man is the one who turns away from the evil or from the temptation to do evil. He leaves the situation but the foolish man is the one who is arrogant and careless.
First I want us to look at the foolish and arrogant person. Why are they foolish and arrogant? Because they think that they don't need any help to overcome temptation! They feel they can stand in the midst of the temptation and resist it. Understand this the Bible never tells us to resist temptation. It does say to resist Satan but never temptation. Why? Because the longer you stand in the temptation situation telling yourself you're going to resist it the only thing you are thinking about is the temptation. YOU CAN'T RESIST IT! Instead you need to RUN FROM IT!
"I Thought about the wrong direction in which I was headed and turned around an came running back to you." Ps. 119:59 (LB)
Once you realize that you are in tempting situation you need to run away from that situation. Don't walk! Don't saunter away! No! You need to RUN! Get yourself out of that situation! Get yourself away from that temptation as quickly as possible. And where do you run to? TO GOD! The best place to be to overcome temptation is in the presence of our Lord God! Why? Because that's one place Satan would never dare to try and tempt you. God is your refuge of safety! He is the Rock of your salvation! He is your high and mighty tower where you can find safety for your soul.
#6: Look For God's Escape!
"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, so that you will be able to endure it." 1 Cor. 10:13 (NASB)
Did you read the part where the scripture says that God will always make sure that every temptation you experience there is a way of escape! The question isn't whether there's a way to escape - the question is are we looking for the escape that God has promised!