Growing through temptations
Today’s lesson is about temptation, recognising it and trying to grow through it. We are told today that every temptation is an opportunity to do well, a form of stepping stone to our success instead of a stumbling block. We ought to see it as an opportunity of choice to do good, so while temptation is the devil’s weapon of destroying us, God uses it to develop us. As each time we choose to do good rather than sin we are growing in the character of Christ – Gal. 5 vs. 22 – 23 – But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Thereby, producing fruit of the Spirit, a characteristic that is not produced in us over night, but will mature and ripens slowly. We also need to be aware that God develops the fruit of the Spirit in our life by allowing us to experience circumstance in which we are tempted to express the exact opposite quality. To remember that character development always involve a choice and a temptation, an opportunity to choose to learn peace through trusting God in circumstances in which we are tempted to worry or be afraid and not relying on our own idea of peace. To bear in mind that each time we defeat a temptation we become more like Jesus. But this is all easier said than done.
Therefore, in order for us to defeat temptation, we need to have an understanding of how the enemy works – 2 Corinth. 2 vs. 11 – in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes. It will greatly help us to know that the enemy is predictive in all his ways, he uses the same strategy repeatedly since he started his job and is not original at all.
he first of all identifies a desire in us [maybe a sinful desire] and suggests it with a thought that we give in to an evil desire or fulfil a legitimate desire in a wrong way, like short cuts. An important thing we also have to know is that temptation doesn’t lie around us but begins within us, as if we didn’t have that internal desire, the temptation could not attract us. It always starts in the mind – Mark 7 vs. 21 – 23 – For from within, out of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and make a man ‘unclean’; James 4 vs. 1 – What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you?
The next thing the enemy does is he tries to get us to doubt if what we are about to do is really sin – Heb. 3 vs. 12 – See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. he is the father of lies – John 8 vs. 44 – You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies; so after creating a form of doubt, he’ll try to offer us a version of what he says God is really trying to tell us i.e. we can get away with it. Which will cause us to act on the thought that we’ve been toying with in our mind, and then give into his lies – James 1 vs. 14 – 16 – but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed? Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers.
Now that we know how he works we need to refuse to be intimidated by his tactics and not to feel ashamed just for being tempted as we will never outgrow temptation. We also need to see temptation as a sign that satan hates us and not a sign of weakness or worldliness; as we will never be able to avoid it completely – 1 Corinth. 10 vs. 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; and its not a sin to be tempted – Heb. 4 vs. 15 – For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin. With all this in mind we ought to treat it as a distraction because the enemy fears you.
We also need to recognise our pattern of temptation and be prepared for it; the enemy knows what trips us up and will make sure to use them all the time, be it women, money, he knows – 1 Pet. 5 vs. 8 – Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Therefore we need to ask ourselves questions to find out situations we are most likely to be tempted (I’m not even going to try and front I KNOW situations when I’m more likely to be tempted – so this right here has been a great help!!) this could be when we are tired, bored, depressed and many different situations. We need to identify the pattern and be prepared; to anticipate it and be ready – Eph. 4 vs. 27 – and do not give the devil a foothold; Prov. 4 vs. 26 – 27; 16 vs. 17 – The highway of the upright avoids evil; he who guards his way guards his life..
And finally we need to request God’s help – Eph. 6 vs. 17 – Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; to cry for help when we find ourselves being tempted, and God is able to help us immediately. It is important for us to turn to God more often for help, because He is willing to help us and He never gets irritated by our inability to rise from the same temptation – Heb. 4 vs. 16 – let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Because God’s love is everlasting and His patience endures for ever, so even if we fall it is not fatal – James 1 vs. 12 – If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.