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Article 36

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Temptation

 

The Bible challenges us to control and guide our desires towards doing good rather than evil. We all must take responsibility for our own thoughts. As a result, we must learn to control our thoughts.

The path to sin

Sin is disobedience of God’s commandment. There is a pathway that can lead to someone committing a sin against God. This pathway is:

1st  Temptation

2nd  Sin

3rd  Death

This is explained very well in the following passage:

Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.

Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. James Ch.1:12-16 

We are being told to endure the trials we face in our day to day lives and focus on those things which God commands. This ofcourse requires us to exclude the things that he forbids. This process requires us to overcome temptation. To please God, the believer must think and act in the correct ways when they are initially faced with the opportunity to do wrong.

The cause of temptation

There is a ongoing battle between good and evil in each one of us.

The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?  Jeremiah Ch.17:9 NIV

This ongoing battle is also mentioned elsewhere:

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.' " 

Mark Ch.7:21-23 NIV

When we get evil thoughts we get it from within ourselves. Someone or something else does not put these thoughts into our mind. So to overcome temptation we must firstly recognize the source of the sinful thinking. We are responsible for our own thoughts. So a believer in God must control these thoughts and always try to do good. 

One thing we need to remember is that what one person may see as a temptation may have no effect on another person. We all react differently to the things around us. 

Help in overcoming temptations

The three steps to overcoming temptation

There are three steps involved in overcoming temptation: 

Step one: Watch 

Work out what are your major weaknesses in temptation. Once you understand these then you can be especially prepared to fight temptation when you in this situation. 

Step two: Run 

We are to avoid putting ourselves into situations where we face temptation. As matter of fact, we are told to run from any situation where we might be tempted!!

Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.   2 Timothy Ch.2:22

Step three: Pray 

We can go to God to help us with overcoming temptation. We can ask him through prayer to keep us away from influences and environments that we find tempting. In other words, led us away from circumstances that will make it difficult to serve God. 

God allows us to be tempted because he wants to test our faith and desire to serve him. But he stops the temptations becoming too much for us. So whenever we find ourselves in a difficult situation of temptation, you can overcome it by seeking God’s help. 

To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy— to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.  Jude 24-25 

Christ can also help when we are faced with temptation. 

Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil— and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham's descendants. For this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.   Hebrews Ch.2:14-18

Christ never sinned but he was tempted. 

Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 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. 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.  Hebrews Ch.4:14-16 

Keeping our minds pure 

We need to avoid ungodly environments where we will be faced with temptations.  

Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. Psalm 1:1-2 NIV 

So we need to replace ungodly thinking with godly thinking. The best way we can overcome temptation is by filling our minds with the things of God.  

We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.  2 Corinthians Ch.10:5 NIV 

Just as a conquering army takes captives, so the faithful believer must take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ.

If we learn to control our minds and think only about good things, then we can fully control temptation. 

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable- if anything is

excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. 

Philippians Ch.4:8-9 

Summary

Temptation comes from within us, in other words, it is our own thoughts. The surroundings we are in influence our thoughts so we need to exercise caution. To overcome temptation, the believer must follow the example of Jesus. One of the best ways to overcome temptation is to replace the temptation to sin with a desire to do what is right. In other words, replace it with godly thoughts. If find the temptation difficult to overcome then pray for help and he is willing to provide help.

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Last Updated: Sunday, 08 March 2015