Triumph over Temptation
Dean and I recently saw a video about a woman who lived years of her life as a lesbian. Although she grew up in a church setting where she knew it was wrong, she decided to live that lifestyle anyway. She is now happily married to a man and they have several children. She now describes herself as a functioning heterosexual, but she still has attraction to women.
She sees being attracted to the same sex as a temptation that she must withstand to be pleasing to God. Wow, what a counter cultural statement. As Christians we are called to flee temptation, but the world presents temptation in such a way that tricks people into thinking they do not have a choice. “I was born this way,” “that’s just how I was raised,” “that’s just my nature,” and the list goes on. The reality is, we have a choice. We can choose who it is we want to be and we can choose whether or not that will line up with God's word.
Just because we choose to be followers of Christ does not mean temptation will magically go away. Choosing to be a Christian means that we have the power to overcome whatever temptation we face. This takes discipline on our part (1 Cor. 9:27).
There is no sin in being tempted. We know that Jesus was tempted at all points, yet without sin (Heb. 4:15). The sin comes in when we give in to the temptation (James 1:13-15).
So how do we combat temptation?
1. Be sober (1 Peter 5:8)
This is not just the absence of alcohol, which is what I thought when I was younger. Being sober is being in a state of clear mindedness. As a college athlete there were times that I was so caught up in the game that the anger that comes with competitiveness caused me to act in a manner that is not pleasing to God. I did not have one drop of alcohol in my system, but I was far from sober. We have to put our emotions in check so that we wisely make decisions when the devil puts temptations in front of us.
2. Pray (1 Thess. 5:17)
I do not think I have written an article that does not include the power of prayer. For this topic in particular I want to point out the power of a specific prayer. God hears us and will help us, but being specific in our prayers can be even more beneficial for us (1 John 5:14). Instead of saying, “help me fight off temptations,'' how about we really get specific with our Father? Let us say things like, “Lord help me to say no to him when he asks me to come to his place after our date,” or “Lord help me to leave the break room when morning conversations turn into bashing our boss”? These are real situations we may find ourselves in, and God is able to help us through them all.
3. Study and apply God’s word (2 Tim. 2:15)
I cannot stress enough how having a plan makes all the difference. We have to make sure we plan a time to study and know what to study. Some days I sit down after work and I have nothing to study so I end up just picking a book and starting from chapter one. Don’t get me wrong, this is better than nothing. However, having a specific topic to dive into or a specific book or passage to study is much more beneficial. Also, we should know ourselves enough to know what time will work best. My husband is a very early riser, so he does his studying in the morning. I, on the other hand, would rather use my lunch break or the time right after work to dive in. As long as we have time and stick to it we will be sure to learn from God’s word.
4. Remove people, places or things from your life that cause you to fall into a particular sin (1 Cor. 15:33)
This is pretty self-explanatory but very hard to actually do. Practical examples include: turn your cellphone off during certain hours of the day, don’t Google certain things, remove yourself from a group chat that is counterproductive to your spiritual walk, and turn the TV off. By doing these we make time to pour ourselves into other things and get busy doing the Lord’s work. We know what our temptations are; it is our job to avoid triggers. A person who is afraid of all animals probably would not go to the zoo every week. I know this is a silly example, but if we are trying to abstain from gossip why do we keep hanging out with groups of people who constantly do so? It is time for us to make sacrifices that will help us draw closer to God (2 Tim. 2:16).
5. Find an accountability partner—David had Nathan, Moses had Aaron, Paul had Barnabas, Timothy had Paul, etc
This is very hard for many people, especially those who are young and new to the faith. They may be afraid to share their struggles because of the fear of judgement. They may think that no one else is dealing with what they are dealing with. The truth is, everyone is dealing with temptation—from the pulpit to the back of the pew, Satan tempts us all. We need to realize, though temptations may look different, there is only the lust of the flesh, lust of the eye and pride of life (1 John 2:16). On the other hand, if someone comes to us to share their struggles we do not need to be judgmental but, rather, loving and kind to help them get past it.
In the end, we all want to be pleasing to God, so that is our motivation to fight sin daily.