Dear Friends,

Recently I was with a person who knew exactly what he should do.  He understood God’s will very clearly and then decided that he would not obey the Lord.  When he intentionally, with premeditation, determined to defy God’s instruction it actually caused a shutter to go down my neck.

Defying the Lord is a scary thing.  Many Christians, who know exactly what the Lord has commanded, reject the Lord’s instruction and decide to do what they want.  They are convinced that they know better than God.

Proverbs 16:25 (NLT) There is a path before each person that seems right, but it ends in death.

“But doesn’t the Lord want me to be happy?”  This is a statement (it’s not really a question) that doing this thing (even though the Lord has forbidden it) is what will make a person happy…“and since God wants us to be happy,” they argue, “He will look the other way at my sin.”

Danger, Danger, Danger…

This is a dangerous place to live.  Proverbs 29:1 indicates that there is a point of no return as we willfully and defiantly sin.

Proverbs 29:1 (NIV84) A man who remains stiff-necked after many rebukes will suddenly be destroyed—without remedy.

There is a sin that leads to death…and this is addressed to Christians.  Some practices of sin will cause the Lord to take the Christian out of the world.

1 John 5:16b–17 (NLT) But there is a sin that leads to death, and I am not saying you should pray for those who commit it. All wicked actions are sin, but not every sin leads to death.

UNDERSTANDING TEMPTATION—It is important that we understand the process of temptation, and how temptation can lead to sin.  James 1:13-15 outlines the temptation process.

James 1:13–15 (NLT) And remember, when you are being tempted, do not say, “God is tempting me.” God is never tempted to do wrong, and he never tempts anyone else. 14 Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. 15 These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death.

  1. Temptation Is NOT from the Lord.  God does not tempt us.  He tests us, but will not tempt us.  Therefore, although our enemy means to harm us, God will defend and protect us.
  1. Temptation Comes from Within Us.  The idea to sin comes into our mind…whether our enemy suggests it, or whether we think of it ourselves.  It comes from our own desires.  Rebellion is bound up in the human heart.
  1. Temptation Is Enticement to Do Evil.  Temptation is a draw toward evil.  Evil is a lure that entices us to decide to sin.
  1. Sin Is a Decision.  Sin doesn’t just happen to us.  We must decide to disobey God.  The moment we make this decision to yield to the temptation is the moment when the temptation becomes a sin…and notice that this is before we actually commit the act.
  1. Act of Sin Comes Next.  Once the decision has been made, the act of sin is next.  This is when others can see the result of the sin that has already happened in your heart.
  1. Sin Brings Defeat.  When sin is unrestrained it leads to a life of discipline, defeat, misery, and bondage.

EQUIPPED TO WITHSTAND TEMPTATION

  1. Temptation Is NOT Sin.  Jesus was tempted, but did not sin.  In fact, He was tempted more than anyone who has ever lived.  He endured the absolute maximum temptation and yet never sinned.  If you or I were faced with the level of temptation that Jesus faced, we would yield to the temptation.

Hebrews 4:15 (NLT) This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin.

  1. Your Temptation Is NOT Unique.  You can’t say that no one has ever faced what you’re facing. If others have walked the same path and found victory, so can you!
  1. The Lord Will Limit Your Temptation.  God will not allow you to be tempted more than you can endure.  He will limit the temptation to fall within the ranges of your ability to withstand.
  1. The Lord Provides a Way Out.  God will always provide a way to escape your temptation.  The means of victory over sin are always within your grasp.

1 Corinthians 10:13 (NLT) The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.

HOW TO ENDURE TEMPTATION—Below are some concepts that the Lord has provided for you and I to have victory over temptation.

  1. Determine to Obey the Lord—This is a step that many Christians fail to take.  You can’t wait until you’re facing the temptation to decide to obey the Lord.  You have to make the commitment that you will obey the Lord before the temptation comes.

Psalm 119:106 (NLT) I’ve promised it once, and I’ll promise it again: I will obey your righteous regulations.

  1. Prepare Yourself for Victory by Memorizing God’s Word—God’s word is a powerful restraining force against sin.

Psalm 119:11 (NLT) I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.

  1. Pray for Protection—Since the temptation is spiritual, the solution must be spiritual.  Pray covers you in the Lord’s supernatural protection and invites God into the circumstances of your life.  This is what Jesus taught us to pray in the Lord’s Prayer.

Matthew 6:13 (NLT) And don’t let us yield to temptation, but rescue us from the evil one.

  1. Keep Focused on the Lord—Instead of focusing on the temptation, focus on the Lord.  I’ve heard that when a wolf is close to sheep they will look up at the face of their shepherd.  If he is not anxious, the sheep will continue grazing.  When our enemy is near, we need to look at the face of our Shepherd.

Colossians 3:2 (ESV) Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.

  1. Resist the Temptation—You must stand against the temptation.

James 4:7 (ESV) Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

  1. Look for the Way Out—God will always provide a way to escape the temptation.  Many of you will remember the comedian Flip Wilson who would jokingly say, “The devil made me do it.”  In reality, however, the devil can’t make you sin.  You must voluntarily yield to the temptation.  In the same way, you must voluntarily yield to the Lord in order to overcome a temptation.

1 Corinthians 10:13b (NLT) When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.

  1. Apply the Power of the Holy Spirit—The Holy Spirit will give you the supernatural power to overcome the temptation.  You must determine to yield to the Lord.  He will provide the power.

Romans 8:2 (NLT) And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death.

God loves us too much to allow us to live a life to willful defiance.  When God says “Don’t!” He means, “Don’t hurt yourself!”  Surrendered obedience is the only way to experience the victorious Christian life!

Onward overcoming,

Pastor Gary