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James 1:13 says, “When tempted, no one should say, ‘God is tempting me.’ For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He tempt anyone.”
It’s a fact of life folks – everyone struggles with temptation. Everyone. Whether it’s fighting the urge to eat that second piece of cake, fudge a little on your tax return, lie to your spouse about where you were and what you were doing, steal a lustful glance, or not tell your boss the whole story ... temptation to sin is all around us.
Welcome to The Point of Purity Podcast. I’m your host, Steve Etner, Author, National Speaker, and Purity Coach for The Pure Man Ministry. This is episode #65, and in this episode, we going to continue our look at Temptation and why we struggle so much with it. So, buckle up and hang on because ready or not, here we go!
OK, so you’ve just been tempted. And it’s a big one. It’s a temptation with a capital “T.” You tried your best to fight it. You held on for as long as you could, but you caved. Now you’re struggling with shame, guilt, feelings of failure, doubt, self-accusation – maybe even a bit of anger toward God. Can you relate?
Here’s the thing we need to understand. That sin you just gave in to is not the only sin you will struggle with. You see, one sin will inevitably lead to another, and then to another if you don’t deal with it head on. Once you become comfortable with a particular sin in your life, it is only a matter of time until other sin-issues arrive.
For example, the husband who has been secretly looking at pornography on his phone or tablet or computer isn’t only dealing with the sin of lust. By keeping it a secret, he is guilty of deceit and lying as well. If his wife suspects something and confronts him, he may choose to lie about it, possibly even responding in anger (giving in to yet another sin). If this sin issue is not dealt with, if the sin is allowed to continue, his battle with other sins as pride, bitterness, and discontentment will deepen.
God makes it abundantly clear in James 1:15 that sin will always result in death. Think about it this way, if left to itself, the process will always be temptation – sin – death. Always. Whenever you sin, there is always a death that follows.
Again, let’s use the husband who is entrenched in pornography as an example. He is battling with sin on a number of different fronts including lust, pride, anger, controlling fear, discontentment, self-pity, self-esteem and so many more. As a result, his sin has brought a type of death to his relationship with his wife. Oh, she may not even know it (although my experience has shown that a wife usually suspects it) – but the marriage has begun to deteriorate. He becomes withdrawn, self-focused, and self-obsessed. He no longer reaches out to her, caring for her and loving her the way he used to. Their physical relationship has also begun to die. This in turn causes her to withdraw, eventually destroying her love for him – another death. You see, sin will always result in some kind of death. Something is always destroyed.
Too often we are guilty of listening to the lies of the enemy as he whispers “C’mon, gimme a break! I’m just human. Hey, nobody’s perfect. I’m always gonna struggle with sin, anyway, so why fight it. Why not just enjoy it?” Oh, my friend, all believers (including you) have the ability to say no to temptation. Titus 1:2 and Hebrews 6:18 tells us that God is not a liar. Now think about this. God – who cannot lie – tells us that we can do all things through Jesus, because in him we will find the strength to accomplish it. Where does He say that? Look at Philippians 4:13 which says, “I can do all things through (Christ) who strengthens me.” And in 2 Peter 1:3 we read, “By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life.”
Are you catching this? God – who cannot lie – promises us that “no temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13) So don’t you ever, ever let the lies of the enemy convince you that you cannot have victory in the face of temptation, especially over the temptations that so easily entangle you, because God says otherwise!
OK – I can hear the argument going on inside your head right now. Listen ... there is no, “But Steve, you don’t understand.” There is no, “But my situation is different.” Unh uh. Do you remember 1 Corinthians 10:13? I just quoted it to you 10 seconds ago. “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. My friend, we all experience the same temptation. Oh, it may have a different face and be experienced in different ways, but it’s still the same temptation.
This is war, my friend. The Apostle Paul declared “There is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me.” (Romans 7:23) You will always be tempted; it’s part of the Christian life. But you never have to give in to the temptation. You never have to sin. Others have experienced the same temptation and have been victorious over it. So can you! And if you’ve not yet heard my personal testimony, I encourage you to go back to Episode #1 of this podcast and listen to it. Or check it out on my website (ThePurityCoach.com).
God fully understands that sometimes it seems like your sin is going to overwhelm you and it is sweeping you away in its powerful grip. That’s why Paul says that no temptation has “seized” you. That word “seized” means to grab hold of and carry away. God’s promise to every Christian – God’s promise to you my friend, is that no temptation – even though it feels like it has dug its nasty claws deep into you – no temptation will be so strong that you cannot stand with Christ in the face of it. Again, let me remind you that Paul unequivocally declares “no temptation,” not a single one ever has been, nor ever will be, stronger than God.
I love it when I see the words “but God” in Scripture. No temptation, even the one that gives you the feeling of powerlessness, is stronger than God. “But God is faithful,” my friend. I love that word “faithful” in 1 Corinthians 10:13. God IS faithful! That word, “faithful,” refers to one who has been repeatedly proven trustworthy in the execution of their promise and the discharge of their official duty. In other words, the one who is “faithful” can be fully and completely relied upon to keep their word and do exactly what they’ve promised.
So, I have a question for you. Who is faithful, fully trustworthy, and completely reliable to keep every word and every promise they have ever made and will ever make? Who will, with the temptation, help you to endure? The answer? God! The Almighty, Most Holy, All-Powerful, Sovereign Creator of the Universe – your Heavenly Father and the Savior of your soul!
God IS faithful. He knows about your temptation, and He has promised that He will give you the ability to endure so that you’re not crushed under it. He doesn’t want you to be defeated or discouraged. He doesn’t want you to feel the only choice – the only option you have is to sin. God will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. This of course doesn’t mean that you’ll never experience a difficult and trying temptation. Nor does it mean that the temptations you do experience won’t seem overwhelming at times. It does, however, mean that God is always in control, even when you are in the middle of strong temptation. In the midst of that temptation, you can fully trust in God that He will not permit that temptation to be more than you can deal with.
Let me be quick to point out here that God is not the one who tempts you to sin. James 1:13 clearly states that no one is to say when he is tempted that I am being tempted by God, for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. No, God does not tempt you to sin, but He does allow temptations to enter your life for the purpose of revealing to you a heart issue that is preventing you from growing closer to Him. If Satan had his way, that temptation would bring about your destruction. But God uses it as a way to show you that there is still an area of self-centered weakness in your life that needs to be dealt with so that you can have a more intimate relationship with Him.
Through that temptation God is providing you with an opportunity to discover what heart issues you are still struggling with. AND – in the midst of that temptation – He shows you how to escape. How to stand firm in faith and in truth.
So, the key here is not in NOT having to deal with temptation at all, but learning how to deal with your temptation WHEN it comes. And, by the way, temptation WILL come. That’s a guarantee. Paul says, “WHEN you are tempted” not IF you are tempted. James tells us to “consider it pure joy WHENEVER you face trials of many kinds.” (James 1:2). We will always struggle with temptation. The key is how you handle it, which begins with your mind – what you allow yourself to think about in the midst of the temptation.
If you look at the temptation with a defeatist attitude, you will end up being defeated. However, if you see the temptation as God revealing something in your life that needs to be dealt with so that you can mature and conform to the image of Christ, then you will take a totally different approach to the temptation. This is the way you are able to endure it.
Listen to 1 Corinthians 10:13 again. “God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” There was a time in my life when I would read this verse and fix my attention on the words “a way out” or “a way of escape.” I thought, “OK, Lord, where is the “Exit” sign? Where’s the door? I’m outta here! I have since discovered that the way out that God provides is not so you will no longer experience the temptation. That “way out” would not help you grow closer to Him. That way would not help you become more like Christ. That way won’t bring God honor and glory. That kind of “way out” give you the opportunity to slip back into your contented, King Me way of living. That kind of “way out” makes it easy for you – and let’s face it, God isn’t about making life easy. Rather, as you are going through the temptation, you are to focus your mind on the things of God. Focus your attention on what it is that God is revealing to you and what you need to do to deal with it. In other words, focus on His glory, not your pleasure.
In 1 Chronicles 22:19 we read, “Set your heart and your soul to seek the Lord your God.” Are you doing that? Are you firmly planting your mind – the very core of your being – on seeking God? 1 Chronicles 16:11 commands us to “Seek the Lord and his strength; seek his presence continually.” Jesus said we are to “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness.” (Matthew 6:33)
Think about this for a moment. If your mind were firmly and immovably planted on the things of God so that even the most tempting and enticing lure didn’t draw you away, your life would be different. Your words and deeds would be different. People would see your life – a life of purity, a life of integrity, a life of godliness – and they would glorify your father in Heaven.
So, as we conclude this week’s podcast – let me share this one last thing with you: No matter what sin issues you may be battling with, no matter where you may be in your walk with God, or in your marriage relationship - don’t give up hope, don’t quit, don’t allow discouragement to defeat you. God has a perfect plan for your life. God is at work – even now – molding you into the Christ-follower He wants you to be. Stop fighting Him, stop trying to take over the process, and trust Him with EVERYTHING.
Lay all your temptations on the altar, sacrifice them to God and just walk away. Then open your Bible and read, study, mediate and memorize it. Let God’s truth saturate your mind and fill your heart, and as Romans 13:14 challenges us “don’t even think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh.” Rather, as Romans 12:2 commands, allow God to transform you as you renew mind.
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So, until next time this is Author, Speaker, and Purity Coach Steve Etner reminding you that if you are going to glorify God in your everyday living, He must first be glorified in your every moment thinking.