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What about Overcoming Temptation?

We have an enemy, but...

The Bible shows us we have an enemy - the Devil - and he is always seeking to catch us off guard and spoil our lives (see 1Peter 5:8-9).

But, our God is mighty, as we can see from the verses below. These verses contain truths that are a vital encouragement in times of difficulty:

...Our God is Mighty!

What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all - how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died - more than that, who was raised to life - is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: "For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered." No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:31-39).

Dealing with difficulties

Every Christian has to deal with difficulties in one way or another. Sometimes our Christian life can seem like a battle ground. This is because we now belong to God, and we have an enemy, the Devil, who doesn't like this fact because we used to belong to him.

However, God intends that the Christian's life be one of overcoming and not of being overcome. As we learn to surrender to Jesus and be obedient to his Word it will help us in this - remembering - we are not in this on our own but have the Holy Spirit with us to help and encourage us.

Overcoming temptation

Temptation is one of the difficulties we all face.

Everyone is tempted, even Jesus was, and yet, since we've been baptised and filled with the Holy Spirit, we can now follow his example and be overcomers instead of being overcome (see Hebrews 4:15; see also Romans 6:11). God has provided an escape route (see 1Corinthians 10:13).

Am I tempted by God?

It is very important we understand that temptation does not come from God. He will allow it but he doesn't cause it. God is not the author of evil and bad things, whether it be national disasters or calamities in the life of an individual. James makes this very clear. He says: When tempted, no one should say, "God is tempting me." For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone (James 1:13).

James goes on to make it clear how we are tempted. This is what he says: But each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death (James 1:14-15).

This is the process that takes place:

We're tempted to do wrong.

We consider the temptation with our mind - maybe it's not too bad.

We respond with our emotions - it seems very appealing.

We decide with our will to do it.

Sin is the result.

We face three main areas of temptation:

1: Trials and temptations - here we're tempted to give in to difficult situations or tempted to get involved with things that are attractive but wrong.

2: Relating to authority - where we can be tempted to rebel or maintain an independent spirit.

3: Injuries and offences - where we can be tempted to embrace hurts and wrong or harmful thoughts.

How to overcome

So, how do we achieve victory over these areas of temptation?

Firstly, we must recognise that the victory is in Jesus, and that God's grace is sufficient for all of these situations (see 2Corinthians 12:8-10; see also Hebrews 12:15; James 4:6-8), so surrendering to the Lordship of Jesus and putting him first in the situation is very important.

Then, to help with this, read 1Corinthians 10:13: No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.

There are three important things in this verse about temptation and the help God provides. They are as follows:

1: None of the situations of temptation we find ourself in are unique.

2: God will only allow us to be tempted up to a certain point.

3: With every temptation God provides an escape route.

We find God's 'escape route' when we turn our attention from the fleshly desires that find the temptation attractive, and turn to God and his Word, allowing the spirit part of us to have supremacy over the desires of the flesh - our body and soul. To help our spirit gain supremacy we can pray to God for help, confessing an appropriate verse of scripture, singing a Christian song, or speaking in tongues. Then we must take action against the temptation.

It is important to remember that if we don't make it we can turn to God and ask his forgiveness and try again (see 1John 1:7-2:2).


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