Do you ever struggle with the temptation to sin? I do. In fact the last couple of weeks Satan and my flesh has tried hard to get me to give in to temptation to sin. Yes, even pastors struggle with temptations. Satan knows if he can get pastors to fail he will hurt and discourage a lot of people and give the Lord a black eye. This is one the biggest reasons to pray for pastors every day. I chose this topic today because I needed a reminder on how to handle temptation.
The Apostle Paul the most used man in the New Testament outside of Christ, struggled with temptation. He said in Rom 7:15-20 -
15 I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. 16 Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. 17 So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. 18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. ESV
So we see that even great men are tempted and sometimes do things that are sinful. When that happens to me I quickly ask for forgiveness and that the fellowship I have with Christ be restored. I also ask to be filled with the Holy Spirit and power.
Temptation is when my flesh desires something that is not in God’s will for my life. It can be something tangible like a new car that I cannot afford or a position that I can gloat over. Christ taught us that we are to die to our wants and be His servants. We can only do this when we trust Him to give us what is truly best for our lives or what will bring Glory and Honor to Him. James the half-brother of Jesus, said in regard to temptation and fighting with others: James 4:1-3
1 Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? 2 You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask. 3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures. NKJV
Our heavenly Father does not want us to fight with ourselves and others but to find His “peace that passes all understanding.” He many times will not give what we want because He knows it would not be the best for us.
When we are tempted we need to remember our flesh never becomes “Christian,” only our souls becomes “saved” or “converted”. We are told in I Corinthians that our “flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God”. That is why we need the second birth – a spiritual birth.
We all are tempted. It is what we do with the temptation that decides whether it is sin or not. When we sin we must repent (turn away) from that sin and ask for forgiveness. When we are able to resist the temptation we should always rejoice and give praise to our Lord for His grace.
In closing a few tips to help stop temptations. Have a strong walk with our Lord everyday by spending at least 30 minutes a day in a quiet place with prayer and Bible reading. Have a prayer/accountability partner where each can ask hard questions about our daily walk and thoughts. Have godly friends to hang out with. Have a disciplined life where we are very careful of what we see, hear or think remember the slogan WWJD, what would Jesus do.
Remember Satan can only tempt you. You decide to stay pure or to sin!