TEMPTED:

Jamaica Gleaner - - FAMILY & RELIGION -

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:

THE WORLD

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.

HU­MAN NA­TURE

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.

THE DEVIL

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.

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