For some reason over the last year, God has been revisiting the subject of temptation with me.
I know that God will not give me more temptation than I can bear (without giving me a way out – 1 Corinthians 10:13), but I have to admit the older I get and the more I grow as a Christian, it seems like the temptations I face in my life are greater. I was a good kid as a teenager, but it seemed easy to be a good kid. I honestly don’t remember being tempted by a lot of things that many other kids my age struggled with.
I also believe that God uses the challenges and temptations that I face to shape my character and grow my faith in Him. I have seen God use them to shape my life as well as others that He puts in my life.
But for me temptation is toughest on a daily basis and often in the areas that no one sees (except for God). Whether it is my thought life or my lack of discipline on my quiet time or a myriad of desires I would love to fulfill with the right credit line. There are things that this world tells me I have every right to enjoy; yet I know that God calls me to a different standard.
Yesterday, I started looking at book called “Battlefield of the Mind,” by Joyce Meyer. My Wednesday morning ladies Bible Study is thinking about starting this book in late September, so I wanted to get a sample of it. At the same time I am also listening to Character under Construction by Andy Stanley. Ironically, both of these leaders came to the same conclusion when it came to dealing with temptation. And it goes something like this….
Human willpower and prayer alone will not effectively deal with the temptations that we face daily. The desire to do what is good and right is not enough. We need to follow the model that Jesus set for us on dealing with temptation.
Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the desert, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry. The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.” Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone.’” The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And he said to him, “I will give you all their authority and splendor, for it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. So if you worship me, it will all be yours.” Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.’” The devil led him to Jerusalem and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down from here. For it is written: ‘He will command his angels concerning you to guard you carefully; they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’ Jesus answered, “It says: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’” When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time. – Luke 4:1-13 NIV
(I love the last verse…Satan didn’t win, but he will be back. It’s almost like the villain in a superhero movie.)
When Jesus was battling Satan’s temptations he didn’t win by telling himself that’s not the right thing to do, Jesus established the model of overcoming temptations by specifically calling out the Word of God to direct and justify his actions. God’s word is much more powerful against Satan than our willpower alone.
So for my life, I’ve started to work on some “It is written” phrases to help me when the temptations arrive in my day. When a temptation arrives, I mentally repeat my “it is written.” Andy Stanley challenges us to identify “our three top temptations” that we know we are going to face in our week and seek out the “it is writtens” for those specific temptations so that when they creep into our lives (or hit us full force), we are mentally armed to meet them with God’s Word.
My “it is writtens” for this week go something like this:
It is written: Keep away from anything that might take God’s place in your hearts. — 1 John 5:21
It is written: You must love the Lord your God with ALL your heart, ALL your soul, ALL your strength, and ALL your mind. — Luke 10:27
It is written: Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take. — Proverbs 3:5-6
Now I’m going to go look for the “it is written” that tells me I need to get up off my butt and go exercise!