ODAY WE kick off a series called ‘Tempted’. Being tempted is something to which we can all relate. We can all be enticed, and seduced, of course, but many people feel that their temptation is just too great. They feel that they can’t overcome it and there’s no way out.
God wants you to be an overcomer. So, this message series is about helping you discover the ways that God provides to overcome your temptation and receive His grace.
But what is temptation? It is being enticed to step outside of God’s will by the promise of pleasure or gain. The problem is that whenever you give in to temptation, there’s a price to pay. Some choices can kill! The things that tempt us can kill us emotionally, spiritually and relationally. They can kill our careers, our marriages and our future. So we are going to look at what God says about how to navigate past temptations.
The Bible says, “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.” 1 Corinthians 10:13 NLT So, temptations are common to people, but God wants you to escape.
God will help us to resist temptation, but in order to escape, we need to know the source. There are three sources of every temptation that we face:
Society and culture are constantly tempting us to walk away from what God says is His best. The world is always tempting us to seek approval and happiness apart from God.
Our sinful human nature pushes us to give in to lust, greed and anger. The desire is within all of us. We say, ‘I don’t want to do this’, but then we do it anyway.
You’ve heard the old phrase, ‘The devil made me do it’. But here’s the truth. Satan can’t make you do anything. However, he is very cunning. He knows your biggest weakness and will constantly use the world, which he controls, to put that temptation in front of you over and over again.
That’s why defeating temptation is so hard, but the scripture tells us that once we become Christians, the same power that raised Jesus from the dead is resident in our lives (Romans 8:11). In other words, we have the power in our lives to overcome temptations, thanks to Jesus.
The Word of God gives us the tools to fight and win this battle for our lives on every front, whether it’s sex, anger, greed, pride or addiction. And addiction, though one of the least considered, is the most prevalent.
DEALING WITH ADDICTIONS
Addictions of any kind are dangerous because they take control of our lives. The Apostle Peter says that people who are addicted, “... are slaves of destructive habits”. 2 Peter 2:9 GNT.
The definition of addiction is “to surrender oneself to something habitually or obsessively”. Nowadays, some people are slaves to work, to gossip, to people’s opinions or even to having more than one partner. Among the list of top-12 modern addictions are gambling, exercise, cosmetic surgery, coffee, shopping, the Internet and technology. It’s interesting that cocaine addiction has significantly decreased, but prescription drug addiction has gone through the roof. So how do we identify if we have an addiction? These negative life-controlling habits are things we find ourselves doing even though they are destructive. In Romans 7:15 TCNT, it says: “I do not understand my own actions. For I am so far from habitually doing what I want to do, that I find myself doing the very thing that I hate.”
Paul understood his dilemma even though he had good intentions. So be honest. Look at your life and, like Paul, evaluate the things you find yourself doing that you hate or that are damaging to your life.
Do not underestimate this task. Addictions are powerful habits that are formed at a snail’s pace, almost unnoticeably. Bad habits are like comfortable beds. They are easy to get into, but hard to get out. The person who smokes is not hooked on the first pack of cigarettes. It takes time after time before the body becomes dependent on nicotine.
In addition, habits will break your will. Once you have allowed a habit to control you, it breaks you down to the point where you don’t even try to resist because you feel like you can’t break free. How many families have been divided because of bad habits? How many relationships have been destroyed? How many minds wasted?
But the good news is that we can break free from the grip of bad habits. Christ rose from the dead, releasing the power for us to overcome those things that oppress us. The apostle Paul expresses it this way in scripture. “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm then and do not let yourselves be burdened again by the yoke of slavery.” Galatians 5:1 NIV.
If you want God to work on your addiction, you have to give him your entire life. This releases His power to change your life. If you are a Christian who is struggling with a temptation or addiction that you feel you don’t have the strength to overcome and want God to help you, say this prayer: “Heavenly Father, I come to you in the name of Jesus, believing your word of truth that whom the Son sets free is free indeed. I declare this word over my life and stand in the authority of God, receiving your freedom from all addictions. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen”
Surrender your life – your entire life – to Christ and then you can take the next step. Join me next week when we will look at some practical steps that you can take towards victory over temptation.