Jesus us taught us to pray: "Lead us not into temptation."
Martin Luther wrote in his explanation of this prayer:
tempts no one. We pray in this petition that God would guard and keep us
so that the devil, the world, and our sinful nature may not deceive us or
mislead us into false belief, despair, and other great shame and vice. Although
we are attacked by these things, we pray that we may finally overcome them
and win the victory.
A famous poster of the comic strip character, Charlie Brown, says, "I can
resist everything except temptation."
The truth is, if we try to resist temptation to sin only in our own strength,
we will fail. We need God's help. In the Bible, God promises to
help us to have victory over temptation as we use the resources He provides
places, people, and things that tempt you.
"Make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill
its lusts" (Romans 13:14 NKJV)
"Do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature." (NIV)
You already know your own weaknesses. You may feel discouraged
by your frequent failures to resist temptation to a particular sin.
Recovering alcoholics and drug addicts understand this
principle very well. For some people, it means finding new friends.
For other people, it means driving home a different route, in order to avoid
driving pass the bars.
- If you often give in to a certain sin when you are
in a certain place, don't go near that place.
- If certain friends pull you down, don't go with them.
- If you regularly buy something that is destroying
you morally, spiritually, physically, or financially, shop at a different
- If something in your home temps you beyond your ability
to resist, get rid of it.
- If your debt is out of control, cut up your credit
In the past we could tell
men: "If you want victory over pornography, throw out the porn that you already
have and don't bring any more home." But now with porn easily accessible
through the internet and cable TV, the challenge is greater. So
the need is even greater to make difficult choices and figure out ways to
make tempting material inaccessible.
2. Flee temptation
The Bible does not tell us
that we should fight against temptation. It says we should run away from the things (and the people)
that tempt us. Paul wrote:
King James Version
|1 Corinthians 6:18
||Flee sexual immorality.
||Run away from sexual sin.
|1 Corinthians 10:14
||Flee from idolatry.
||Run away from the worship of idols.
|1 Timothy 6:9-11
||Those who desire to be rich fall
into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which
drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is a
root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in
their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.
But you, O man of God, flee these things...
|Those who want to become rich bring
temptation to themselves and are caught in a trap. They want many foolish
and harmful things that ruin and destroy people. The love of money causes
all kinds of evil. Some people have left the faith, because they wanted to
get more money, but they have caused themselves much sorrow. But you,
man of God, run away from all those things...
|2 Timothy 2:22
||Flee also youthful lusts.
||But run away from the evil young people like
How do we do this?
When you unexpectedly find
yourself in a tempting situation, GET OUT FAST! Don't be so foolish
as to think you can stay in the situation but not give into temptation.
Joseph gives a good example. (Genesis 39:11,12)
Be honest with yourself. The real reason you
stay in a tempting situation is because curiosity overwhelms you.
We foolishly think that we can enjoy temptation without actually giving into
Temptation often comes to us at
unexpected times and in unexpected places. And we are not always able
to get away from it. So what should we do then?
"The only temptation that has come to you is
that which everyone has. But you can trust God, who will not permit you to
be tempted more than you can stand. But when you are tempted, he will also give you a way to escape so
that you will be able to stand it." (1 Corinthians 10:13 NCV)
We are not strong enough to
resist temptation alone. We need God's help. When you see temptation
coming, immediately cry out, "Lord,
help me! Show me Your way of escape!"
The next steps are some of those ways that God will show us to escape from
4. Quote to yourself a Scripture verse that
talks about that particular temptation to sin.
answered, 'It is written in the Scriptures...' " (Matthew 4:4,7,10;
When you are facing strong temptations, you can do the
same as Jesus did when He was tempted.
God's Word is a powerful weapon against the lies of Satan. God's
Word also gives us wisdom and direction when we face difficult decisions.
Very often God's final answer to Satan's temptation is found in the Ten
Commandments. Memorize the Ten Commandments. After that,
study Matthew 5, 6, and 7, where Jesus applies the Ten Commandments to every
day life. The Old Testament book of Proverbs and the New Testament
letters of Paul are filled with wise counsel that can help defend you against
temptation. The trick is to learn that counsel before temptation hits, so you will have
a defense against temptation.
that temptation is a hook bated
with a lie.
"You were taught, with regard to your former
way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful
desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new
self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness." (Ephesians
Notice that Bible calls sinful
desires "deceitful." That means they lie.
6. Remember that sin always has consequences.
The tempter says, "Do this, and you will feel good." Wrong.
That is a lie. Just remember the last time you gave in to temptation,
and how bad you felt afterward. Remember how disappointed you were with
yourself. The tempter did not warn you about that.
After you experience the consequences of sin several times, you can face
temptation with the memory of those painful memories. You have learned
the hard way, giving in to temptation is not worth it!
A wise person learns from his mistakes. A foolish
person ignores those lessons and continues in his foolish ways.
"For the wages of sin is death..." (Romans 6:23 NIV)
sins are never secret. God sees and knows them all. When we
deliberately choose to sin, we reject God's authority as God, and we
remove ourselves from His protection. We see this cycle played
out repeated in Israel's history through the whole Old Testament.
though we may not recognize it, sin always has destructive
consequences. The Bible is full of examples of "small" sins that
eventually destroyed people's lives..
- Eve's desire to be "wise as God" & Adam's failure to protect her (Genesis 3)
- Cain's hatred of his brother Abel (Genesis 4)
- Abraham & Sarah's impatience (Genesis 16)
- David's lust (2 Samuel 11)
- Solomon's polygamy (1 Kings 11)
- Greed & dishonesty (Joshua 7; 1 Samuel 15; John 12; Acts 5)
"For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 6:23 NIV)
the danger of the "second look."
David got up from his bed and walked around on the roof of the palace.
From the roof he saw a woman bathing..." (2 Samuel 11:2)
King David did not sin when
he first saw Bathsheba bathing. His sin started when he decided to keep looking at her.
The moment a temptation comes, you have less than one second to decide
what do to --
Flee? (or look away)
Cry out to God?
Every good soldier trained
for battle already knows what to do before
the battle comes. Every Christian needs to know how to respond to temptation
before temptation strikes.
8. Picture in your mind Christ suffering
on the cross for that specific sin which tempts you.
carried our sins in his body on the cross so we would stop living for sin
and start living for what is right. And you are healed because of his wounds.
(1 Peter 2:24 NCV)
Our sins cause Jesus to suffer
and die. Do we really despise our Savior so much that we would deliberately
add to the horrors of hell that He suffered for us on the cross?
9. Confess your habitual sins and failures to another Christian and become accountable to
him/her about your particular weakness.
your sins to each other and pray for each other so God can heal you. When
a believing person prays, great things happen. (James 5:16 NCV)
Important: Tell only
a person whom you can trust to keep your confession secret. That person
also must be gentle, patient, wise, and mature. And that person
must know God's Word.
When we confess our specific sins and receive God's specific
forgiveness, He frees us from the bondage of guilt we have for those
sins. Confession loosens Satan's hold on us to keep
dragging us down.
And when a Christian brother or sister encourages us and counsels us from
God's Word, we receive more of God's gifts for faithfully living the Christian
10. Praise God.
The Tempter hates
God. He fears the name of Jesus. But when our focus in on
God as we praise Him for Who he is and thank Him for all that He has
done for us, the devil can't stand that. The enemy flees and the
Dealing with temptation
Avoid places, people, and things that tempt you.
When temptation hits, pray,
me Your way of escape!"
Quote Scripture against temptation.
Remember that temptation is a lie.
6. Remember sin always has consequences.
Recognize the danger of the second look.
Picture in your mind Christ suffering on the cross
for that specific sin which tempts you.
Confess and become accountable.
10. Praise God.
A true story from the Autobiography of the late Senator Harold Hughes,
Man From Ida Grove.
Before becoming a Senator, Hughes was Governor of
Iowa. Before that, he was a cussing, drinking truck driver, known to
his friends as "Pack." This story is from those truck driving days,
a short time after he became a Christian.
As it takes a flame and wick to set off a powder charge, so do alcoholics
suffer syndromes which start them drinking. They find themselves in
a situation where a combination of elements sets up a deadly desire.
With me it was usually a lonely hotel room after a hard day's work.
No one would see me, and my family wouldn't know.
Such a chain of elements was created when I checked in at the Savery Hotel
in downtown Des Moines one night after a series of hectic business meetings.
Before leaving my room to go to a restaurant for dinner, I thought I'd relax
for a moment.
I had picked up a copy of the evening newspaper and was scanning the pages
when I suddenly felt the urge. By that time, I had not touched alcohol
for over a year, and though there had been many urges I had been able to overcome
them. However, my longtime habit of an evening drink coupled with being
alone in a hotel room generated a powerful force deep within me. I
wanted a drink. I needed it. I had to have it.
Desperately I battled. I turned back to the paper and tried to read.
Drumming incessantly within me, however, was the demand for a drink.
I stood up, the paper falling to the floor. Suddenly, I felt
like two different people, the new and the old Harold Hughes. The urge
became overpowering. I knew that in a very few moments I would be
going to dinner at a downtown restaurant. To reach it I would pass
an old drinking spot. And I knew as well as I stood in that hotel room
that I would go into my old haunt for a drink. I could already savor
its delicious burning strength. I felt lost, defeated…
I grabbed my coat from the back of the chair. This is it, I figured.
Nobody's going to know about my getting drunk. I'll just get it out
of my system.
In the exhilaration of decision, I pushed out the door and into the corridor
of the hotel, heading for the elevators. But as I stood waiting for
the elevator, something came over me. What was I doing?
I leaned against the wall and prayed. "Oh, God, please don't let me do this."
The chime of the "down" elevator broke the spell and I headed for the open
door. The lust for a drink was in charge again.
I strode through the hotel lobby out into a warm Iowa evening. The
traffic hubbub did not distract me from the neon lights of the bar down the
One last spark of resistance flickered within and like a drowning man clawing,
at a reed, I clutched a parking meter.
"Pack!" Above the rumble of traffic I heard my name being called.
I looked up and coming, toward me down the sidewalk was an old friend I
hadn't seen in years.
that!" he exclaimed, pumping, my hand. "I step out of a cab and there
you are. What are you doing for dinner?" he asked.
"I was on my way," I managed to say.
"Well, come join me."
As we walked together into a restaurant, I sensed a malevolent power leaving
We had a good dinner, chatting over old times, and as we paid our bills,
I realized the desire was completely gone.
"Say," said my friend, looking up at me, a toothpick in his mouth.
"Wasn't that a coincidence, our meeting like this?"
I thought of my feeble prayer at the elevator, and clapped him on the shoulder.
"No, Sam, no… I don't believe it was a coincidence
[Harold E. Hughes (with Dick Schneider),
The Man from Ida Grove. (Chosen Books, 1979), pp. 114-116]
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