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8. Staying Victorious:


Overcoming Temptation

James 1:13-14 'When tempted, no one should say, "God is tempting me." For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed.'

In the battle zone

God and his people have an enemy: Satan, or the devil. Satan is real. He is a spiritual being who has a host of demonic servants working for him. Their aim is to draw people away from God and get them to Soldiers in battleserve Satan instead.

Before you became a Christian you were under his power. But now that you've moved over to God's side you've become a threat to him—and he doesn't like it! So to you he has now become 'the tempter' (Matthew 4:3), trying to lure you away from the Lord. He may tempt you to do what you know is wrong, or to fail to do what you know is right (James 4:17).

His temptations come in a variety of forms, including:

Jesus shows the way

Jesus, as a man, suffered temptation just like you. He was 'tempted in every way, just as we are—yetA bird in your hair? was without sin' (Hebrews 4:15). This tells us:

1. It isn't a sin to be tempted

Temptation itself can make you feel dirty. But you must resist this idea. It isn't temptation itself, but yielding to temptation, that is sin (note Martin Luther's perceptive comment on the right). Jesus was tempted but remained 'without sin'.

2. Victory is possible

You'll never reach a place this side of Christ's return where you cease to be tempted, but you really can be victorious over temptation when it comes, as Jesus was.

Preventive measures against temptation

There are certain steps you can, and should, take to avoid temptation in the first place:

Staying alert1. Stay on the alert

Matthew 26:41 'Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.'

While you shouldn't go around cringing lest temptation should strike, don't go to the opposite extreme by becoming cocky and over-confident in yourself. The devil is a great deceiver, with lots of experience. 'If you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don't fall!' (1 Corinthians 10:12).

2. Keep away from the occult

Keep right away from anything occult, including horoscopes, fortune-tellers, ouija boards, séances, witchcraft and spiritism. This is Satan's territory, where he rules supreme. To step over the line is to court disaster.

3. Take sensible steps to avoid problems

If you're having sexual temptations, for example, be practical about avoiding sexy videos or explicit magazines. Watch what daily newspapers you read. If you've had homosexual problems, choose to stay away from the places where practising homosexuals hang around. If alcohol is a problem, keep away from pubs and bars.

'Do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature', says Paul (Romans 13:14). On the contrary, think practically about how you can deny those desires. One man's route to work took him past a stall that displayed pornographic magazines prominently. He had poor eyesight, so he would deliberately remove his glasses while he walked past the bookstall. That's good Christian common sense!

FightAnd when temptation comes…

1. Stand firm and fight

James 4:7-8 'Submit yourselves…to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you.'

The devil is used to people running away. But in most temptations you must stand up to him undaunted, then he's the one who'll do the running.

But this isn't something you do in your own strength. Notice how, in this verse, both before and after the command to resist the devil, there's a command to 'submit' yourself to God and 'come near' to him. Call on him to help you, telling him that you are his and intend to do his will. That way, God himself fights for you and the devil's defeat is assured.

2. Lean on the truth of Scripture

You can read in Matthew 4:1-11 how Jesus once faced a period of heavy temptation. Notice how he quoted Scripture each time, reminding both himself and the devil of God's truth. You can do the same.

3. Run for your life

Some temptations call for you to remove yourself rapidly from the situation. When Potiphar's wife tried to seduce Joseph and made a grab at him, he ran from the scene of temptation, leaving her holding his coat (Genesis 39:11-12). To have stayed and discussed the situation would have been fatal.Run for your life

If you're offered drugs in a night club, get out. And ask yourself why on earth you were in such a place to begin with.

Such escapes are not a sign of weakness but of strength. They show your utter determination to stay right away from anything that may cause you to stumble in your walk with the Lord.

4. Milk the temptation of its potential blessing

Romans 8:28 'We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.'

You can actually benefit from temptation if you tackle it in the right way. Though it comes from Satan, God can turn it to your good. How?

First, it prompts you to lean more heavily on the Lord rather than trusting your own strength. And, second, when the victory is won you will have gained in spiritual experience and be better equipped to deal with Satan next time.

Every temptation you face, in fact, is permitted by the Lord as an opportunity for you to triumph. You can never say, 'I was tempted too strongly', because he has explicitly said that this isn't so:

1 Corinthians 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.'

Take hold of this wonderful promise and use it as a weapon to defeat Satan.

Oops! Slipping upWhat to do if you fall

In spite of all your efforts to overcome temptation, you may slip up from time to time. You don't want to sin but you end up disappointed with yourself and defeated. What should you do? John gave the answer to some Christian friends he was writing to:

1 John 1:9-10 'If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.'



by heart

1 Corinthians 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.'


GiG8: Beating Temptation
Drawn two ways: towards good and towards evil
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