Now I am wondering, what’s Anuoluwapo talking about… I thought I just said the prayer of salvation? Isn’t that all I have to do in order to live above sin? Why then do I still have to handle temptations?
By the way, the fact that the things that you would normally do without any thought have suddenly become a temptation is an indication of the life and nature of God in you. As long as we live in this body of ours, we will often be tempted to sin. It’s an assurance we have from Jesus Himself.
“And (Jesus) said to His disciples, temptations (snares, traps set to entice to sin) are sure to come…” -Luke 17:1 AMP
Hence, in the same way trying to prepare for an exam on the very day of the exam wouldn’t guarantee good success, it’s only wise that we pro-actively equip ourselves against temptations (whenever it comes). But before we go into further details on how to handle this certainty, let’s establish certain truths from the scripture:
“Let no one say when he is tempted, I am tempted from God; for God is incapable of being tempted by [what is] evil and He Himself tempts no one. But every person is tempted when he is drawn away, enticed and baited by his own evil desire (lust, passions). Then the evil desire, when it has conceived, gives birth to sin…” – James 1:13-15 AMP
1. God doesn’t tempt; the devil is the tempter.
2. Temptations result when we entertain evil desires in our hearts.
How to handle temptations
“And Jesus answered him, saying, it is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.” – Luke 4:4
God’s word in our hearts is the singular most important key to overcoming temptations. Jesus, when tempted of the devil, responded with the word. He actually quoted from the Old Testament (see Deuteronomy8:3).
Now you might say “well, what do you expect? He was the word made flesh; the Son of God couldn’t have fallen into sin,”, but I tell you, the reason why Jesus could say “it’s written” was because he had studied the scriptures for Himself.
“He went to Nazareth, where He had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. And stool to read” – Luke 4:16 NIV
Jesus had to study the scrolls available at His time, He knew how important the word was, hence consistently and diligently fed Himself with the word. Although, He didn’t have the whole bible to himself like we do today, He went to the synagogue on a weekly basis. King David did the same.
“I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you” – Psalm119:11 NIV
We can’t overemphasise the importance of the written word, and the need to consistently fill our minds with it. The scripture says that “out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaketh”, hence we are sure to overcome any temptation whatsoever if we will only fill our hearts/minds with the word.
Are you struggling with anger, lust or an addiction? Get filled! Although, it might not happen on the same day you start studying the Word, but as you keep meditating on it, you will catch a revelation of who you truly are in Christ and those things will become less and less of a temptation until one day, you wouldn’t even think of them anymore. For instance, I just can’t think of masturbating anymore now… I know who I am! I’m a King, a priest in Christ. Hallelujah!
Flee; it’s not time to claim ‘Mr Macho’
We often end up falling into sin because we try to claim to be ‘Macho’; we say “I can handle this”, and before we know it we are right back in the ocean of sin wondering how on earth we got there in the first place.
The bible admonishes us to abstain from all appearances of evil (see 1Thessalonians 5:22). If you are struggling with pornography, this is not the time to buy more porn magazines or even keep the ones you already have. Although we said that the devil is the tempter, but we can also be our own tempters if we keep doing or exposing ourselves to those things that predispose us to sin.
You can’t keep watching sex scenes and pray against masturbation…it just wouldn’t work!
There were times when I knew in my heart not to open certain websites online, but then I talk myself into opening it anyways (ignoring the voice of the Helper) and before I knew what was happening, so many immoral thoughts and desires were already flying through my mind because of the things I had seen on those sites. We would have to listen to the voice of the Helper and stop shunning Him if we would walk free from sin. “An idle mind is the devil’s workshop” – H.G Bohn
Up until recently, I had always thought the above saying was from the bible but it is not. However, it is applicable in this subject. No wonder Apostle Paul tells us to think on certain things, by so doing we will actively get our minds off the wrong stuff. This leads us back to the singular most important key to overcoming temptation – getting filled!
“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” – Philippians4:8
The gift of no condemnation
Ok! Now you have done it again, you depended on your strength and it failed you. That’s not the time to run away from church neither is it a time to estrange yourself from God.
“There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the spirit.“- Romans8:1
Although I have often heard that the italicised words weren’t in the original Greek rendering, but whether or not that’s true, Jesus Himself lived out this very scripture while on earth, plus the book of Romans chapter eight and verse one is a continuation of Paul’s communication in chapter seven where he stated that he did the very things he hated. In the book of John chapter eight, a woman caught in adultery was brought to Jesus. Although, according to the Law of Moses, she was supposed to be stoned to death but in their foolishness, the Pharisees who were desperate to entrap Jesus brought her to Him to see what His judgment would be. They had obviously forgotten that Jesus wasn’t sent into the world to condemn it (John3:17), hence to their uttermost disappointment Jesus extended her the hand of grace instead.
“Jesus straightened up and asked her, ‘woman, where are they? Has no-one condemned you?” No-one sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared, “Go now and leave your life free of sin””. – John8:10-11 NIV
God wants to see us back on our feet as quickly as possible whenever we falter; His response to our weakness is that we boldly approach His throne of grace to obtain mercy and grace!
Tell it to someone
I know how it feels to be ashamed and guilt stricken, to be stuck with a habit and being unable to help yourself. You wish someone could help but then again, you think “no one can really understand what I am going through”. How can I possibly tell someone that I am still struggling with the same sin after all these years of being born-again? Is this your present state of mind? Have you tried all that you know to do but it seems you just can’t find a way out? You don’t have to go through this alone; I’ve got good news for you!
“There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man…” – 1Corinthians10:13
The scripture says that there is no temptation uncommon to man; hence someone somewhere and at some point had gone through that same temptation you are going through and came out victorious. Now, I know it’s not so easy opening up to someone about something you are ashamed of, but whatsoever is kept in dark will only continue to flourish until it is exposed. – Telling your pastor wouldn’t be a bad idea after all, except of course you know from experience that he can’t keep a secret.
Finally my dear, I leave you with Apostle Paul’s advice to the early church:
“And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified.” – Acts 20:32
A revelation knowledge of the word (which is truth – John17:17) is the key to victory; in it we find freedom…a freedom from sin. You are not the sinner you think you are! Christ is our Righteousness Much love.