Everyone is tempted, but how you handle temptation is very important to your walk with Jesus, and your own spiritual health. Maybe you have been fighting the same temptation for years without being able to shake it off. It’s like a broken record of temptation – sin, regret, repeat.
How do you break that cycle? I encourage you today to stop and read the temptation of Jesus found in Luke 4. Jesus gives us a great model for overcoming temptation.
Notice when temptation comes. Jesus was tired, hungry, alone and coming off a spiritual high of just being baptized. He was at the beginning of launching His ministry. He was in the wilderness, which was known in the Jewish culture to be a place where demonic spirits dwelt. In the same way, many times we face temptations when we are physically stressed (hungry or tired), when we are alone, when we are doing a good work for God, or when we are in places where temptation to sin can most easily occur.
Think about the times you are most often tempted. When does it happen? What are the circumstances? When temptation comes, your response is to resist. (James 4.7 NIV) says, “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”
Here are some ways to resist the devil when you are tempted:
Avoid environments where you are easily tempted.
“Don’t do as the wicked do, and don’t follow the path of evildoers. Don’t even think about it; don’t go that way. Turn away and keep moving,” (Proverbs 4.14-15 NLT). If you are going to the places where temptation will most likely occur, then you are headed down the wrong road. Avoid those places. Avoid those people. They will only lead to trouble.
When facing temptation, get away quickly.
“Run from anything that stimulates youthful lusts. Instead, pursue righteous living, faithfulness, love, and peace. Enjoy the companionship of those who call on the Lord with pure hearts,” (2 Timothy 2.22 NLT). The key word there is “run.” First, circle the words “Run from.” Run from anything that entices you to sin. Don’t stop! Don’t think about it! Don’t hesitate! Run! Just as Joseph ran from the arms of a wayward wife, you need to run from tempting situations, (Genesis 39.11-12 ESV). Second, you need to “run toward.” Circle the words “pursue righteous living.” These are the things that you know please God, like faithfulness, love and peace in your life. Finally, you need to “run with.” Circle the phrase “Enjoy the companionship of those who call on the Lord.” You need to run with the right people. Remember that who you befriend is who you become.
Replace tempting thoughts with God’s Word.
Usually when you are tempted, a thought first comes to mind. The more you think about the temptation (even thinking about how you need to avoid it), the more power it has. Knowing that your thoughts are the first seed of every temptation (James 1.14-15; 2 Corinthians 10.5 ESV), you must replace those thoughts with God’s Word. Instead of thinking about the temptation, set your mind on God’s Word. Find Scriptures that speak directly about the temptation you are facing. Find Scriptures that remind you of God’s faithfulness and His promises. Post these Scriptures around you. Read them aloud. memorize them. (Psalm 119.9, 11 NIV) says, “How can a young person stay on the path of purity? By living according to your word. … I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.”
You hide God’s Word in your heart when you memorize and meditate on it day by day, moment by moment. This is what Jesus did. Each time He was tempted by Satan, Jesus responded by quoting Scripture! The Apostle Paul says that Scripture is the “sword of the Spirit,” (Ephesians 6.17 ESV). The word “sword” isn’t a large saber, but a small dagger used for hand-to-hand combat. Take the promises of God and use them strategically against your enemy! Paul again writes, “Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me — everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you,” (Philippians 4.8-9 NLT).
Pray for God to help you.
“But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one,” (2 Thessalonians 3.3 NIV). This is a wonderful promise. When you’re resisting temptation, remember God is 100 percent faithful to you. He will strengthen you and protect you. That is why we are told “to come boldly into His presence through prayer to find help in our time of need,” (Hebrews 4.16 ESV). That is why Jesus Himself encouraged us to pray for protection during times of temptation, (Matthew 6.13 ESV).
Even when you face temptation, know that Jesus Christ is with you. He is able to guard you, protect you, empower you and uphold you. Jesus understands your temptations. He was tempted just like you, (Hebrews 4.15 ESV).
Even now, Jesus is praying to the Father for you, (Romans 8.34; Hebrews 7.25 ESV). He is more than able to defeat this temptation through His Spirit that is at work in you, (1 John 4.4 ESV). “Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen,” (Jude 24-25 ESV).
Photo Credit: Giovanni Randisi