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Avoiding Temptation

We looked last time at the subject of temptation and how to recognize it when it comes. Another important step in dealing with temptation is making every effort to stay away from it. You can avoid temptation first of all by prayer. Jesus said, “Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation” (Matthew 26:41).

Second, you can avoid temptation by having a realistic view of yourself. This means recognizing your weaknesses and staying away from those things that pose a special problem for you. If you’ve had a problem with sexual sin, then you must do everything in your power to avoid any situation that could cause you to stumble. It might mean staying away from a certain person or group of people; it could mean avoiding certain sources of entertainment, such as the Internet, the movies, or the TV, especially cable; or it could mean steering clear of the magazine rack in the local convenience store.

If your past sins have been alcohol or drug related, then you need to avoid people, places, or situations that could lead you into compromise. This same principle applies in every area of weakness. If, after all of this, you still find yourself in a tempting situation, like Joseph when Potiphar’s wife threw herself at him, your only recourse is to flee as Joseph did. Knowing your area of vulnerability is actually a step toward victory over temptation.

Remember, “Let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall” (1 Corinthians 10:12). Don’t put yourself in a tempting situation, but rather, “Flee these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life” (1 Timothy 6:11–12).

Overcoming Temptation

The only good news about being tempted is that we are guaranteed victory over temptation. It is crucial to know this. Some Christians leave you with the impression that victory is impossible and that backsliding is just another facet of the Christian experience. Yet, nothing could be further from the truth! The Bible tells us that victory is possible. The apostle John said, “My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin” (1 John 2:1). James, in his epistle, instructs us on how to obtain the victory:

Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. James 4:7–8

Victory begins with total submission to God. If Jesus is not the Lord of our lives, it will be difficult, if not impossible, to be victorious over temptation. Having submitted ourselves to God, we then resist the devil. Resisting the devil means we stand against him with the weapons that God has given to us. Our primary weapon is the Word of God. As we resist, in due time, Satan will flee.

This is beautifully illustrated in the life of Christ in Matthew 4. After fasting for forty days and forty nights, Jesus is met by Satan, who says to Him, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread” (v. 3). Here our Lord does what we are instructed to do: He resists the devil with the Word of God. “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God’” (v. 4).

Each time Satan came with a temptation, Jesus countered with the Word. We are to do the same. When Satan tempts you to revert to your old habits, resist him with 2 Corinthians 5:17, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” And with Romans 6:11–12, “Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts.”

When Satan tempts you with immorality or substances that are forbidden by God, resist him with 1 Corinthians 6:19–20, “Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.”

It is in this practical consideration of temptation that we see the divine wisdom of David’s statement, “Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You” (Psalm 119:11). Memorized Scripture is a great asset when faced with temptation.

Finally remember:

Our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin … and having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness. Romans 6:6, 18

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

Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted 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 4:14–16

continue reading the views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect the views of Calvary Southampton

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