Life offers many good things. However, in the midst of this wonderful life we are confronted with the problem of temptation. From the beginning, God allowed the devil to put temptations in the paths of men. I am sure this is for our good or God would not have allowed it. Actually trials and temptations bring out the best in us when we react to such as we ought (Jas. 1:2-4).
Temptation is not sin but yielding is. God will not allow the devil to tempt us above what we can bear. In fact, God sends a way of escape for every temptation (1 Cor. 10:13). Isn’t that wonderful to know? Yielding to temptation will bring a few moments of pleasure to the flesh but no pleasure to the spirit. And yielding to sin will have a devastating effect on our lives for years to come. Oh, if we could remember to ask ourselves, “Is this short-lived pleasure worth the years of regret that I will experience?” Most of the time when we are tempted, we don’t have our heads on very well. If ever there was a time when we need to pray, it is when we are tempted to do something that we know we ought not do. Jesus said, “Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matt. 26:41).
Note some truths that will help:
1. Consider The One Who Is Doing The Tempting: Satan is responsible for temptation and is, in fact, called the tempter (Matt. 4:1, 3). He is our worst enemy and if he can influence us to yield to him, he has accomplished what he wants to accomplish. He wants us to lose our souls. We have permission to abhor evil, “Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good” (Rom. 12:9). If I am to hate evil, then I must hate the source of evil, the devil. The word evil is of the “d” evil (Jn. 8:44; 1 Jn 3:8). When we are tempted, surely we don’t want to yield to the one who introduced sin into the world, is a murderer, is the father of all deceit, and is the worst enemy we have.
Jas. 4:7 — “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” In life, we have the choice of submitting to God and resisting the devil or resisting God and submitting to the devil. That’s it! It is one or the other.
2. Realize That Each Of Us Has The Capacity To Sin: I once lost my temper on the golf course and the friend I was with put his arm around me and said, “R.J., Paul said in Eph. 4:26 – ‘be ye angry and sin not’ and you have the first part of that passage down really well.” He was right because I was angry and sinned. It is easy to think something you ought not to think; say something you ought not to say; and do something you ought not to do.
God didn’t make us sinners. But one of the essential things in overcoming temptation is to admit when we sin. If we are guilty of sin, then we have the capacity to sin. You don’t have to be a Harvard graduate to understand that (1 Jn. 1:8_10). How strong you are today has nothing to do with the temptations you will face tomorrow. Don’t think for a moment that you are too strong to yield to temptation. Some of the strongest people I have known have yielded to sin and fell completely away from God (1 Cor. 10:12).
The people of Israel thought they were strong but they yielded and it led to their destruction. If others have messed up their lives by yielding, I need to remember that I have the capacity to do the same. The wisest person is the one who learns from the mistakes of others. To realize that I can yield to temptation which leads to the loss of spiritual life here and the loss of eternal life in the world to come, will help me to think like I ought to think when confronted with temptation. There is nothing that is worth the loss of your soul.
3. We Must Remember That We Have A Merciful Father And Loving High Priest Who Are Willing To Forgive When We Repent: Christ left heaven to live on this earth, died on the cross, arose from the dead, and ascended to God’s right hand to be our Mediator and Advocate. It will help us when we are confronted with temptation to remember how merciful God has been throughout our lives up to this present time. Our past sins have hurt Him enough. If I truly love Him, I don’t want to hurt Him again.
It will help you when you are tempted to remember that temptation comes from the biggest enemy that man has ever known. It will help you when you are confronted with temptation to remember that you are not any stronger than David or Paul. We must admit that we are weak enough in the flesh to fall when we are influenced by the devil. However, let us remember that we are strong enough to stand against the wiles of the devil when influenced by the Lord. And when you are confronted with temptation remember that God loves you and wants you to come back home. He is willing to wipe the slate clean if you will repent. The hero of the parable of the two sons in Lk. 15 was neither of the sons; it was the loving father. Believing this and giving your life to the Lord is the best way to resist the devil (Eph. 4:27; 6:11).