The Remedies for Temptation
AVOIDANCE: DON’T PLAY WITH MATCHES!
Why are you surprised that your feet have third degree burns if you just walked in a fire pit? “Can one go upon hot coals, and his feet not be burned?” (Proverbs 6:28). Similarly, “Flee youthful lusts” (2 Timothy 2:22) was Paul’s way of saying, “Don’t play with matches!” Avoid the source of trouble, and you won’t have to worry about trouble itself.
So what places, web sites, books, radio stations, videos, “friends,” or activities are the most common sparks for passion and temptation in your life? Generally, a simple analysis of the sources of temptation and a resolution by God’s help to avoid them will preserve us. As Paul wrote, “Make not provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof” (Romans 13:14). So, if it means tossing your CD’s, looking for other friends, going home a different route from school, putting your computer in the family room, or quitting your job – go for it! Your moral and spiritual preservation is far too important.
ANCHORS: BEST DEFENSE? A GOOD OFFENSE
Rather than waiting until you are standing knee deep in the mud to figure out whether or not that is a way to keep clean, you should decide beforehand so you never end up there. The wise songwriter sang, “Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed thereto according to Thy Word” (Psalm 119:9). The best way to keep yourself from floating away with tides of temptation is to fix the anchor of the Word of God in your life and obey it. The Lord Jesus was tempted for forty days. Why did He not cave into temptation? Yes, as the Son of God, He could not sin. But at the same time, learn from His example. He deflected each blow from the enemy by saying, “It is written.” Before the temptation came, He had filled His mind with the Word of God and He had His convictions and moral principles firmly set. The preventive action of filling our minds with biblical convictions on all issues is vital. The songwriter continued, “Thy Word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against Thee” (Psalm 119:11).
ACTIVITY: WEEDS OR SEEDS?
The best way to keep weeds out of a garden is to have lots of green, growing, and prosperous plants. Don’t sit around worrying about when the devil is going to attack. Fill your life with positive activities. Don’t just “flee youthful lusts.” Paul continued to counsel Timothy by saying, “Flee youthful lusts: but follow after righteousness, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.”
A life full of positive, Biblical activity leaves less room for failure and waste.
ASSOCIATIONS: MAN’S BEST FRIENDS
Don’t think this article is going to the dogs, but there is something to be learned from pooches. A dog will not lead its master into trouble; it will sense trouble and do everything to avoid danger. That is why they call the barking beast man’s best friend. So what kind of friends do you have? “He that walketh with wise [men] shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed” (Proverbs 13:20).
For couples that are dating, there is always safety in numbers. One of the best ways to avoid temptation is to avoid time alone. Spend time with family and other Christians. Keep in clear view of others.
RUN FOR YOUR LIFE!
Paul saw temptations circling around Timothy and the believers in Ephesus and he knew the danger. Four times he wrote, “Flee!” You cannot toy with temptation. Like Joseph, you must not wait to see what happens. Don’t risk it! Just run!
This is against nature. No parent has to train his child to eat junk food. It tastes great. Squash and salads? Another story. There is no need to command what is pleasurable and natural. That is why Paul gave the commands, “Flee youthful lusts,” and “Flee fornication.”
This is not a “feel like” moment. It is an action based on fact and decision rather than feelings and emotion. There is no time to wait. Don’t be ashamed to cut off a friendship, walk out of a room, shut off a computer, or call a believer. Don’t try and see how close you can get to the edge of a cliff without falling off. Instead, hang a u-turn and beat it!
Thank God, “Failure is not final!” Guilt and shame are two of the strongest chains of the enemy to keep you from moving on for God. So how can you break the bond of blaming yourself for failure? The apostle John said, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us [our] sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). Confess means to say the same thing that God says about your sin. It is the practice of seeing your failure as God sees it.
Then rejoice that “we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous” (1 John 2:1). Because of Who Christ is and what He did on the cross, your Heavenly Father will never bring up your failures again. You can reestablish happy and open communication by recognizing and discussing your failure with Him. “He is faithful (He will!) and just (He can!) to forgive us our sins.” What a provision!
But, don’t be presumptuous. You wouldn’t say, “I can pound nails into my hands all I want, because my father is a doctor and he will always give me stitches and antibiotics.” How foolish! How ungrateful! Don’t ever let yourself fall into the trap of using the great sacrifice of the Savior as permission to sin. But triumph can follow the tragedy of tripping on temptation. Peter gave in to temptation and denied the Lord Jesus. When restored, Peter – nor anyone else – mentioned it again. Instead, He wrote that, whatever the past, from this point on, the Christian “no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God” (1 Peter 4:2).
The bad news is that you must deal with failure and sin the rest of your life. The good news is that your Savior dealt with the punishment for sin at the cross and God gives you the teaching and tools for you to be happy and holy in your Christian walk. So, start while you are young. You must, and you can, deal with The Failure You Face.