What is the complete process given in the Bible for how to resist temptation? Previous posts discussed the foundational key: Diligent faithful daily mindset. Then Consider the Consequences and Don’t Go Near Her House.
But when all evasive maneuvers fail and a dogfight ensues:
- The most important step I keep overlooking
God’s not tempting you (James 1:13-15). We are tempted by the three hissing S’s: Self, Satan and Society. But we absolutely need God’s help to resist temptation from these three sources.
In Matthew 26:41 Jesus advises us to keep watching and praying that we enter not into temptation, and He set the example. In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus did not rely on Himself though He was God in the flesh (John 5:30). He prayed for one hour, then He prayed again, and then again—and He would have kept on praying—until He had His will in total submission to God’s.
Remember the popular TV show “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? Regis Philbin would ask at the moment of highest tension “Is that your final answer?” Jesus’ answer to His final test must be our answer in temptation: “Your will be done, not mine!”
On the show, a contestant could call on a lifeline. Jesus is our lifeline, and we must call on Him at the moment of temptation.
What makes us think we can resist on our own power! Too often it’s because we don’t really want to turn away. At this moment of weakness we want to do this! An idol we want to smash when in our diligent faithful mindset demands we bow down.
It’s sad to admit but sometimes: Yes, I should cry out to God for His help! Wait!—not yet. Let me just stick my toes in the water. I’ll stop when I see the line in the shifting sand. What riptide?
In “The Pattern of Failure—Lessons from 246 Pastors Fell Within 2 Year Period,” Garrett Kell warns, “If you flirt with sin, you will fall into sin. Sin’s slope is slippery. The longer you walk along the edge of the abyss, the more likely that your feet will slip…. The men in the study put themselves in dangerous situations again and again.”
At the first hint you are being tempted, immediately cry out to God! This is the step in the temptation process where I usually fail.
- What Christ did to resist temptation
In Matthew 4 when being tempted by Satan, in every case Jesus did not hesitate, reason or listen to angels debating on His shoulder.
There was a poor country pastor dismayed by his wife splurging on a $350 dress.
Wife: The Devil whispered to me “You look great in that dress. You should buy it!”
Pastor: At first temptation you should have commanded “Get behind me, Satan!”
Wife: I did but then he said it looks great from the back, too!
Jesus did not discuss with Satan!
Satan: What’s wrong with you making yourself a little bread? I can rustle you up some Wonder Bread—you wonder if it’s bread!
Jesus decisively answered Satan’s lures with “It is written …” Jesus knew His Bible! He inspired every word of it (2 Timothy 3:16), He lived it, and He wielded it (Hebrews 4:12)!
Psalm 119:11 instructs “Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against you.” The Bible notes Satan’s three best shots at Christ. At the end of the third temptation, Jesus commands “away with you Satan!”
But Satan did not wait until the end of 40 days. Luke 4:2 says Jesus was tempted 40 days.
Satan must have thrown some other tempting offers: “Hey, aren’t you the one who said it’s not good for a man to be alone? 3-1/2 years with those fishermen is gonna get old real fast!”
“For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses but was in all points tempted (tested) as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:14-15).
Peter warns us, “Your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour. Resist him steadfast in the faith knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world.”
Paul warns us, “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall. No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it” (1 Corinthians 10:13).
It seems like God has more confidence in us than we do! God allowed Satan to tempt Job but with restrictions.
In verse 14 above Paul added “Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry.”
What tempts you regularly … is it an idol for you? Anything that comes between you and God? Anything you put before God in time, money and priority? We all have some idols to smash!
The classic story about fleeing temptation is in Genesis 39:9. Joseph was stuck in Potiphar’s palace. He did what he could to stay far from Mrs. Potiphar and told her what she had in mind would be sin. When she grabbed him by his tunic, Joseph wriggled out like Houdini and fled!
When you flee, leave no forwarding address!
Stay tuned for the last post in our four-part series: How to Resist Temptation #4
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