Tag Archives: temptation

Staying On God’s Path

I’ve driven Houston’s roadways for years. I can tell you that they are always under construction. Many times it’s slow going when trying to get through the city. Not too long ago, my wife and I were driving north on the West Loop. We were talking and I didn’t notice that where they had swapped sides of a multi lane exit. Instead of continuing on the loop, I found myself on another road. I had to exit that road, make a u-turn and get back on the right road or I never would have made it. Not much further up the road, I observed another person dart from the left lane across to an exit from the right lane. It was sudden and without warning. I have to admit, it’s happened to me once or twice where I saw an exit and took it without warning putting myself and others in danger.

Satan uses temptation a lot like these exits. As you’re making progress in your spiritual walk, sometimes it can be slow going where you feel like you’re not getting anywhere. He uses temptation to get you to detour and e it from the path God has for you. There are times when you slowly exit without even realizing you’re taking it. Before you know it, you’re on the wrong path. Then there are times when you see something and quickly fall for it. Temptation has been used by the devil since the beginning to keep us from where God is leading us. To be tempted is to be human. It isn’t sin until you fall for it and take the exit. The great news is God is always willing to forgive when we repent and take a u-turn to get back on the path He has for us.

Here are some Bible verses on temptation.

1. God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.

James 1:12 NLT

2. Guide me away from temptation and doing evil. Save me from sinful habits and from keeping company with those who are experts in evil. Help me not to share in their sin in any way!

Psalms 141:4 TPT

3. But we are tempted when we are drawn away and trapped by our own evil desires.

James 1:14 GNT

4. Leaving there, he went, as he so often did, to Mount Olives. The disciples followed him. When they arrived at the place, he said, “Pray that you don’t give in to temptation.”

Luke 22:39-40 MSG

5. The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.

1 Corinthians 10:13 NLT

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Resisting Temptation

Every one of us are tempted to sin. Because we are unique, we are tempted with different things, but often it’s in the same way. Temptation starts by causing us to doubt what God said and tries to make us think that there is something better than what God has already blessed us with. If we don’t stop those thoughts immediately, we start moving towards sinning. We try to justify why we deserve whatever it is. We then convince ourselves that what we have is not enough. We continue down this road until we give into the temptation and sin. Deep down we know it’s wrong, and so many times the actual sin is anticlimactic because we’ve built it up in our mind so much. The problem then is that we have to deal with the consequences of that sin. Temptation is not a sin. What we do with it could be.

In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve had all they could ever hope for. They were surrounded by God’s beautiful creation and provision, yet they were convinced that what God had given them was not enough. They wanted more. Genesis 3:6 says, “And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was delightful to look at, and a tree to be desired in order to make one wise and insightful, she took some of its fruit and ate it; and she also gave some to her husband with her, and he ate” (AMP). They entertained the thoughts of temptation that led them to sin. They bought into the lies that God was withholding something good from them and that they deserved to have more than what God gave them.

Fast forward a couple thousand years to Matthew 4, and as Jesus comes up out of the waters of baptism, the Spirit led Him into the wilderness. He was in a barren place deprived of God’s provision, food and beauty. The same enemy came to Him to create doubt about who He was and what God had promised Him. The difference was that Jesus didn’t entertain those thoughts. He immediately went to what God said as truth, and He trusted the character of a God to not withhold any good thing from Him. He saw temptation for what it is, an attempt to break our relationship with God. He fought back with God’s Word and didn’t try to justify the sin based on where He was in life, what He was going through or what He felt like He deserved.

You and I have a promise we can hold onto during times of temptation. 1 Corinthians 10:13 says, “No temptation [regardless of its source] has overtaken or enticed you that is not common to human experience [nor is any temptation unusual or beyond human resistance]; but God is faithful [to His word—He is compassionate and trustworthy], and He will not let you be tempted beyond your ability [to resist], but along with the temptation He [has in the past and is now and] will [always] provide the way out as well, so that you will be able to endure it [without yielding, and will overcome temptation with joy].” You don’t have to give into temptation. You have the ability to resist. You are able to endure it and can overcome it. Trust that what God has given to you is enough. If you don’t feel like it is, then be like the two people in the Parable of the Talents who took what the Master gave them and multiplied it. Your future is based on your choices and thought life. Don’t give in to the lies the enemy brings. Trust God and speak His promises, resist the devil and he will flee.

Photo by Nadine Shaabana on Unsplash

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A Man Of Empathy

One of the things I remember being taught at an early age is that Jesus was tempted in all areas of His life just like we are. It’s always been a comfort to know that because He can relate to us as we go through our daily lives and are tempted to say or do things that wouldn’t bring God glory. The temptations He faced in the wilderness weren’t the only temptations He faced, though they are the only ones recorded. Just like us, I’m sure He was under a constant barrage of temptations trying to trip Him up so that His ministry could be discredited. When He didn’t fall prey to those temptations, He showed that we don’t have to give into our flesh and that He could empathize with us in those moments of weakness.

It wasn’t just temptations He faced as a person. He understood what it was like to be betrayed by a close friend. He felt the sorrow of a close friend passing away. He felt the sting of being rejected by people who should have respected Him. In His greatest time of need, His closest friends didn’t stand up for Him and one publicly denied even knowing Him. It was more than temptations He faced in order to be able to empathize with us. He felt pain and sorrow like we do. He understands what it feels like to be hurt by those you love and to feel great sorrow. In fact, He even knows what it feels like to feel abandoned by God. He went through all those emotions so that He could empathize with us in our pain.

Isaiah 53:3-4 says, “He was despised and rejected— a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief. We turned our backs on him and looked the other way. He was despised, and we did not care. Yet it was our weaknesses he carried; it was our sorrows that weighed him down. And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God, a punishment for his own sins!” (NLT) It wasn’t just His pain He felt. On the cross, He took on our pain, our sorrow and our grief. Take the deepest hurt and pain you’ve felt in your life and multiply that by billions. He carried that pain. He did that for us. For you. He understands the pain you feel because He felt it before you at the cross. He took stripes for your emotional healing as well, and endured the harshest punishment known to man out of love for you. Don’t believe the lie that you are the only one who feels the way you do. He carried your pain and sorrow first and endured so that you can too.

Photo by Ricky Turner on Unsplash

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Open Spaces

  
Years ago, when I lived in Cairo, I would often go to a man’s home in the desert to ride horses. One of his horses was a beautiful Arabian, and I loved to take her out in the open desert and run her as fast as she could go. Every once in a while, I would come up over a hill and she would see the pyramid of Saqqara. Immediately she would go into a trance like state and start walking towards it. She wouldn’t respond to the bridle pulls I gave her. I usually had to dismount her, pull her, and sometimes whip her with the training stick to pull her out of that trance so we could keep riding.

Since she was little, her owner would take her to the pyramid for tourists to ride her and take photos with her. She was conditioned to go to the pyramids. She was a lot like us. We are born into sin and are often put into a trance like state when we see certain things that call out to that nature in us. The Holy Spirit in us calls to us to tell us it’s wrong. He tries to pull us away, blind us, and does whatever is necessary to get our attention to pull us away from the temptation.

The Lord wants to teach us a better way. He wants to show us how to live and where to go so we can enjoy the freedom of open spaces. He doesn’t want us to live in that hypnotic state controlled by our sinful nature. He wants to set us free to allow us to live the way He intended from the beginning. To do that, we have to listen to what He says and follow Him without having to be pulled away from temptation at whatever cost.

In Psalm 32:8 the LORD says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you” (NLT). He wants to listen to His voice so He can simply teach us where to go in life and how to live. He doesn’t want to have to treat us like that horse. Verse 9 says, “Do not be like a senseless horse or mule that needs a bit and bridle to keep it under control.” If we are willing to listen, God is giving us freedom to run. If we aren’t, He will use what’s necessary to get us where He wants us to go. 

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Readjusting Your Course

Every time I fly, I think about a friend of mine who is a pilot. I’ve asked him many questions about the process of flying and what it’s like to be in the cabin. I’ve even questioned him about autopilot. He told me that before a flight, he plots the course based off of information he gets from others who are flying that route. Once the plane is in the air and cruising, he turns on autopilot. I wondered if it was really that easy. He then explained that at the cruising altitude, the winds can blow us off course and he has to readjust to get the plane back on course. If he doesn’t, we could arrive miles from our destination.

Our walk with God is a lot like that. We love to set our lives to autopilot and think that will get us directly to Heaven, but the Christian life is more than autopilot. In order to be successful at living this life, we need to have people in our lives who are ahead of us and gave walked the path we are on. We need to listen to the information they’re giving us because they’ve seen first hand where turbulence lies. It’s important to have people in your life who can give you guidance and the information you need to make the right decisions. Proverbs 13:20 tells us that if we want to be wise, we need to be around wise people.

The next thing we have to do is be aware of how the winds of life shift us from our course. Things happen. Problems are going to arise. We need to be in a constant state of questioning if we are still on course for where God has us headed. Reevaluation is an important part of your Christian life. Asking if we are where God wants us when God wants us to be there. Are we still on the path that God put us on? That path is hard to see sometimes. We need to have God’s Word in our hearts. Psalm 119:105 says, “Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path.”

Applying God’s word to your life and taking advice from others will help you to live the most impactful Christian life. When we know what God says in His Word, we are able to defeat temptation that would take us off course. If we do get knocked off course, it’s not the end of the world. God offers forgiveness and course corrections. He makes a way to get back to where He had us heading. Don’t quit because you’ve been blown off course. Take the advice of someone who has been blown off course and been given a path back. God will not abandon you or the plans He has for you no matter how far off course you get. There’s always a way back. 

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Fighting Temptation

At work, part of what I do is role play with people. I take a real life scenario, give it to them and then have them walk me through how they handle it. I will often do something unexpected in it to see what their response is. As we go through it, I offer input and shape their responses. Most people don’t like to role play so they give the excuses of it’s weird, it’s uncomfortable, or it’s not real. What role plays are intended to do are to show me what you do now, but they’re also used to condition your mind to behave a certain way in a given circumstance. I once heard someone say, “If you don’t know ahead of time how you’ll handle different temptations, you’ll probably fail.”

Since hearing that phrase, I’ve tried to think of different temptations that could come up and think through what my response should be. I’m not saying I haven’t failed at any of the ones I’ve rehearsed for, but I can say that my success rate is higher on those than others. Each one of us face different temptations. Each one of us will fail from time to time because none of us are perfect. Does that mean that we should give in to the temptation and not worry? No! We are to be on our guard against temptation and ready to beat it any time.

In John 12:27-28, Jesus knew He was going to face the temptation to back out of the crucifixion. He said, “Right now I am storm-tossed (deeply troubled). And what am I going to say? ‘Father, get me out of this’? No, this is why I came in the first place. I’ll say, ‘Father, put your glory on display.‘ (MSG)” Jesus was already thinking about how He would face the temptation to quit when faced with dying. He had two choices. He could say, “You know what, Father? These people have treated me badly. I change my mind. Get me out of here.” Or He could say, “I told you I would do this and I’m going to. I love each one of them as much as you do. Here I am. Do what you want.”

In Luke 22, we read what happened in the moment Jesus was preparing for. In verse 42 He prayed, “Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine. (NLT)”  A couple of verses later, it says that Jesus was in such agony of spirit over what he was facing, that His sweat fell to the ground like great drops of blood. He was facing the greatest temptation of His life. He had a choice in the matter just as you and I do in our temptations. He had prepared ahead of time and was able to choose the right path.

You and I have the same ability to resist temptation. I Corinthians 10:13 says, “No test or temptation that comes your way is beyond the course of what others have had to face. All you need to remember is that God will never let you down; He’ll never let you be pushed past your limit; He’ll always be there to help you come through it. (MSG)”  Paul used the words “always” and “never”. That means that each and every temptation you face, you can count on God to help you. You may not be able to beat temptation every time, but you can count on God to be there to help you every time. He is your ever ever present help in time of need.

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Victory

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I saw a poster recently with a picture of Michael Jordan on it. It caught my attention because it’s been over ten years since he played. Underneath his photo, in big letters, it said “Victory”. Then it wrote out the definition of victory. As I thought about it, he became synonymous with winning and victory, but that’s not his full story. Before he became a star, he couldn’t make his high school team. After he became a star, he failed at gambling, marriage and baseball. He failed in more areas than he succeeded in, but he did not let those failures define him.

You and I are the same. Our failures outnumber our successes. I get caught up sometimes just thinking about my failures. I wonder why I still try. I beat myself down because my failures seem so stupid. I think I should be able to beat them, but each time I fail, I get down on myself. I saw a friend on Facebook ask the other day, “Is it a true portrait of a man to see him when he is tempted?” I thought a lot about that. My first inclination was to say yes. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized I thought that because I allow my failures to define me.

You and I are more than who we are when we are tempted and when we fail. We are also the person who knows where to seek forgiveness after a failure. We are the person who stands on mountain tops with our arms outstretched looking up to Heaven when we’ve succeeded. We are the person who pushes through when we don’t feel like it and no one seems to care. We are complex and should never allow ourselves to be defined or think that an accurate portrait of ourselves is who we are when we fail.

In Romans 8, Paul listed all kinds of things that could define us. At the end of that list, he said, “Despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ.” It’s time we started to see ourselves as God sees us. We are not all the mistakes, failures or temptations that we face. You and I are victors. We are the very definition of victory if we are willing to get back up, seek forgiveness and to try again. We may not be considered synonymous with victory in the world’s eyes, but we are in God’s. When He looks at you, He doesn’t see a failure. He sees someone made in His image with the power to win.

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