Today, we are going to continue our study of temptation, its effects on our lives, and the strategies we have to fight it. (Previous posts in this series can be found here: Introduction, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3)
I want to begin with a question whose answer helps to determine how we handle temptation in our lives. Have you ever asked yourself what you were thinking when you decided to succumb to temptation? With hindsight, we have the ability to look back on our choices both good and bad and see where we’ve stumbled or where we’ve held strong. If you’re like me, and I’m betting you are, you can admit that God was nowhere in your thoughts when you decided to allow temptation to control you and commit sin. In fact, I’m willing to bet that you were entirely selfish in your thinking, allowing your natural, fleshly desires to rule your decision making.
With that in mind, I have another question. How often have you committed sin when you were fully focused on the goodness and love of God? It makes sense that when our hearts and minds are seeking to please God, it takes the focus off of us and our sinful desires. I truly believe that this is so because we are not strong enough to resist temptation on our own. Left to our own devices, we fragile human beings will almost always choose the route of selfishness. Why? Let’s let the Bible speak on this account. “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh” (Romans 8:5). But there is another way!
” 5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. 6 For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. 7 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. 8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. 9 You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you.”
Our only chance, our only hope of defeating the temptations of Satan and this world is found in complete surrender to and focus on God. Letting go of our popular self-help mentality, we must cling to the one who can give us the strength we need to walk away from temptation. Are you challenged to make a wrong choice? Then pray immediately that He calm your heart and give you guidance. Are you facing a temptation that’s tripped you up in the past? Begin to praise him for his mercy and forgiveness and lift him up in worship with all your heart.
“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.2 For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.”
(Join me again for our final installment in our series on how to fight against temptation.)