Overcoming Temptation (Part 3)
By sis Leong Mei Ji
To overcome temptation, you and I must examine the various ways that they can come. Let us observe the appeals of Satan.
The Appeals of Satan
The apostle John referred to the three appeals namely, “the lust of the flesh”, “the lust of the eyes” and “the pride of life” (1 John 2:16). Satan used these three aspects to tempt Eve and Jesus. The “lust of the flesh” is to enjoy things that bring pleasure to the body, things that satisfy our carnal desires. The “lust of the eyes” is to have things that we see and covet after that will draw us away from God. The third category, “the pride of life” is “of the world”, meaning anything that leads to haughtiness, ostentation, pride in self, presumption, and boasting. Satan knows we have the desire of these things and if we allow him to destroy us by feeding us with a constant and consistent diet of these things, we will then be guilty of sin when we succumb to his temptation.
Let us now consider the question of what can I do to overcome temptation in my life?
We need to make a plan
Sometimes we face temptations that are unexpected. But most of the time we know what is coming and we can make a plan to put into action to avoid temptations. Decisions must be made before the temptation comes! If we make up our mind to overcome temptation, then it will not be so difficult to make decisions. Never make a decision in the peaks and valleys of life. Let the feelings cool down. Think about how to defeat temptation. We must be mentally strong to handle it and we must want to overcome temptation. I repeat, you and I must want to overcome temptation.
Recognize Our Weaknesses
You and I need to recognize our weaknesses through self-evaluation. We are strong only when we realise our weaknesses and then do something about them. Every person has certain points of vulnerability. You have them and I have them. Satan will use every means to find these points of vulnerability. We need to resist him and flee from temptation.
We Must Not Attempt To Rationalize Temptations and Sins
We must not attempt to rationalize temptations and sins away. We must resolve to beat them. God knows the multitude of daily temptations from the “little” things that are in our mind, like telling a white lie to the “bigger” things like using petty cash belonging to the company. To these things, we often say, “But everybody is doing it, why shouldn’t I?” You and I need to understand that if we value our relationship with God, we will do the right thing. One practical biblical example is Daniel. In Daniel 1:8: “But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king's meat, nor with the wine which he drank: therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself.” Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself. He made a resolution. He made a commitment to himself.
Our Weapon to Counteract Satan’s temptations
We are aware that Satan has 3 weapons in 1 John 2:16 - the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life. You and I have three weapons, too. Our weapon to counteract Satan includes knowing the word of God, understanding the word of God and handling the word of God correctly. When Jesus was tempted in the wilderness (Matthew 4), Jesus said, “It is written”. We can use the same weapon as Jesus used that comes through knowing God’s word. The way that you and I avoid walking in darkness, the way that we avoid making mistakes is to know what is written and use that written word to guide our lives. Psalms 119: 105 “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.”
Stay Close To God.
We have to go to God. We need to stay close to God [James 4: 7(a)], “Submit yourselves therefore to God” and also to the people of God. It is just like the coal in the fireplace. When it is separated from the fire, it becomes cold. We must go to God in prayer through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Overcome Temptation Through Jesus Christ.
We can overcome temptation through the promises of God found in Romans 8:31, “If God be for us, who can be against us?” That is a rhetorical question, isn’t it? Not forgetting that we “can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Philippians 4:13). Christ understands and He promises to help us with our problems (1 Corinthians 10:13). That is available to us 24/7. Jesus Christ says in John 16: 33, “In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world”. Victory over Satan is possible and is only possible through Jesus Christ our Lord.
By Our Godly Attitude
You and I can avoid temptation by our godly attitude simply because we want to do what is right.
Consider the Far-Reaching Effects of Sin
Next we need to consider the far-reaching effects of sin. Remember, Satan offers nothing good. How can we think that the things that the devil offer are good when we know that he is a liar? In John 8: 44, Jesus says the devil is a liar, the father of lies and there is no truth in him. Momentary satisfaction offering ultimate loss is not a good deal. We see in James 1:14-15, “But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.” That finished sin is spiritual death. Death by definition is separation. When you and I sin, we separate ourselves from God, “But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.” (Isaiah 59:2). This is not a good deal because “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6: 23).
We must resist Satan
Last but not least, we must resist Satan. In James 4: 7(b), the Bible says, “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you”. A good practical example of this is Joseph who faced the seductive effort of his master’s wife. In Genesis 39:12, “he left his garment in her hand, and fled, and got him out”. We see his reaction. He ran and got himself out of the house. He fled from the temptation.
Two Types of People in the World
There are two types of people in the world. Which kind are we? There are people who make plans to avoid temptation and there are people who make plans to submit to temptations ahead of time.
The father told the son not to swim in the canal. The son agreed but he came home carrying a wet bathing suit that evening. The father asked his son where he had been. The son told his father that he went swimming in the canal. “Didn’t I tell you not to swim there?”, asked the father. “Yes, Sir,” answered the boy. “Why did you?” he asked. “Well, Dad,” he explained, “I had my bathing suit with me and I couldn’t resist the temptation.” “Why did you take your bathing suit with you?” the father questioned. “So I’d be prepared to swim, in case I was tempted,” he replied.
Whenever we play with temptation, it is not difficult to drift into great danger. We sin when we yield to temptation and the sin brings forth death, spiritual death. (James 1: 14-15)
James 1: 12 – The Promise of God
“Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.”