This past weekend we held our annual Marriage Retreat in Nashville, Indiana. Dr. Matt VanderWiele (my son-in-law and our associate pastor) led the retreat with exceptional teaching on the Song of Solomon. I would encourage you to listen to his teaching and download the retreat booklet at:
This past weekend I received a text from my son, Graham, about his five-year-old son, Craig (see picture). He wrote, “I’m eating with the boys and I’ve discovered this weekend Craig’s biggest fear. He terrified he’s gonna get hungry.”
Temptations come in many different forms, but all of us experience temptation. Jesus taught us to pray for protection in temptation in the Lord’s Prayer, “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”
This reminds me of the kid who was praying the Lord’s Prayer and said, “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us some e-mail.”
But what Jesus was actually saying is, “Lead us away from temptation and guard us from the evil one.”
The issue is how we respond when we are tempted.
Learn from the Temptation of Jesus.
Matthew 4:1–11 (NLT) Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted there by the devil. 2 For forty days and forty nights he fasted and became very hungry. 3 During that time the devil came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become loaves of bread.” 4 But Jesus told him, “No! The Scriptures say, ‘People do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” 5 Then the devil took him to the holy city, Jerusalem, to the highest point of the Temple, 6 and said, “If you are the Son of God, jump off! For the Scriptures say, ‘He will order his angels to protect you. And they will hold you up with their hands so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.’ ” 7 Jesus responded, “The Scriptures also say, ‘You must not test the Lord your God.’” 8 Next the devil took him to the peak of a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. 9 “I will give it all to you,” he said, “if you will kneel down and worship me.” 10 “Get out of here, Satan,” Jesus told him. “For the Scriptures say, ‘You must worship the Lord your God and serve only him.’” 11 Then the devil went away, and angels came and took care of Jesus.
HOW TO HAVE VICTORY IN TEMPTATION
- Recognize the source of temptation. Our own evil desires entice us. Temptation is not sin. Yielding to the temptation is sin. If we can recognize the source of our temptation, we are alerted to its danger.
James 1:13–15 (NIV84) When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; 14 but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. 15 Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.
- Use our offensive weapon to defeat temptation. In Ephesians 6 the Apostle Paul describes the protection we have for spiritual warfare. All the items are defensive (i.e. helmet, breastplate, shield), but he lists only one offensive weapon: the sword of Spirit which is the word of God. Notice that Jesus used the word of God to defeat the attacks of Satan.
Ephesians 6:17 (NLT) Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
- Hide God’s word in your heart (i.e. memorize Scripture). Hiding God’s word in your heart prepares you for the temptation before it happens.
Psalm 119:11 (NKJV) Your word I have hidden in my heart, That I might not sin against You.
- Jesus knows how you feel. He experienced all the temptations we do except He didn’t ever yield. So he knows what you are feeling when you are tempted.
Hebrews 4:15 (NKJV) For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.
- God always provides a way out. When we yield to the temptation it is because we decided to, not because we had to!
1 Corinthians 10:13 (NIV84) 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.
- Surround yourself with Godly accountability. We need other Christians in our lives to help hold us accountable so that we are less likely to yield to the temptation. Do you have accountability in your life?
Galatians 6:1 (NIV84) Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted.
Temptation can seem overpowering at times, but God desires for us to stand firm against the temptations that come our way. I would encourage you to enlist the tools described above that you might still be standing after the battle.
Ephesians 6:13 (NLT) Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm.
Onward standing firm,