Temptations are frustrating. Like an intruder in your home, they have one purpose in mind: to hurt you. Wouldn’t it be great to have an escape plan when temptation comes to the door of your heart? The good news is that I have seven godly habits that if you implement into your life, you will be able to break free from annoying temptations.
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- Ten Habits that Can Change Your Life
- The Power of Habits
- Practical Help for Anyone Tempted, Tried, or Tired
I’ve been helping a friend recently struggling with an addiction. She wants to break free from succumbing to the temptation and truly wants to have victory over this area of her life. She is a Christian. She loves God. She wants to please Him. She’s had some success and been able to resist the temptation at times, but at other times, not so much. It’s like she makes a little progress but then suddenly loses any ground she’s gained.
My friend needs a plan. A plan of escape. A way out. “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. 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 endure it” (1 Corinthians 10:13).
We all have temptations and areas of weaknesses. They are common (usual, unexceptional, ordinary) to us all. My friend’s temptation, while it may seem to her that she is the only one with this problem, is not unique. Other people struggle similarly. To be tempted is to be part of the human race. We are all under the curse of sin and so our desires, even our good ones, can become twisted and self-serving.
Temptations are enticements to sin. They arise from our internal desires and are complicated by outward circumstances (James 1:14-15). It’s like the proverbial carrot dangling from a string right in front of your face, tempting you to take a bite.
But there is no need to be discouraged! There is help, and there is hope. God has promised to be faithful and provide a way out of our temptations – an escape plan. In Christ, you are not powerless because God gave you everything you need to live a godly life (2 Peter 1:3). Your temptations are not beyond your ability to bear. They do not have to be your master controlling you like a mindless puppet on a string.
To break free from their control, here are some things to consider to help you devise a plan of escape for yourself:
1 – Recognize
While I can imagine a carrot wouldn’t hold much appeal to you (unless you’re some vegetable junkie), there are other things much more tempting to the lusts of your flesh. So what’s your carrot? What exactly are your weaknesses? Are you aware of your specific temptations? What situations are most troublesome for you? You’ve got to know what you’re dealing with to come up with an effective plan.
Galatians 5:19-21 lists some of the sinful acts you are tempted to commit. Perhaps lust or jealousy is your carrot. Or maybe it’s alcohol abuse or hatred. It could be gluttony or over-spending. Recognizing and identifying your sinful tendencies is key to preparing yourself to resist temptation.
You have an enemy. It’s not other people. It’s not even those things that tempt you. No, it’s Satan, and you need to be aware of who he is and his schemes against you (2 Corinthians 2:11). He hates God, and he hates anyone committed to God. He wants to keep you bound to your sin so that you will be ineffective for the work of the kingdom in your life personally and in the world.
1 Peter 5:8 -9 describes his tactics. These verses paint a powerful picture of Satan in action. It reminds me of those tv shows on National Geographic where they capture the scene of a lion looking for his next meal. He crouches down, camouflaging himself in the tall grass, patiently waiting for the opportune time to pounce on his next unsuspecting victim. He looks for the antelope or zebra that is young or weak, straggling behind the herd. They are easy targets for the sly beast.
Satan is your enemy. Be aware of his game plan and stay alerted. If you isolate yourself from the body of Christ, you become easy prey for his schemes. Stay connected to your “herd” for safety – other believers that can help you with your weaknesses. Recognize your temptations, your enemy, and your need for help.
2 – Resist
You can say no! You can refuse to submit to the temptation and choose to submit to God instead. I know that sounds over simplistic, but this is not rocket science. Resist the temptation. Don’t give in. Just stop it!
Resist means to set one’s self against, to withstand, oppose. You do not have to be at the mercy of your sinful desires or satan’s schemes. James 4:7 says if you resist the devil, he will flee from you. Set yourself, your will and your mind on things above (Colossians 3:2). It is possible, and you can resist, but you must choose to do so before the temptation comes.
3 – Rid
Once you know your particular weaknesses, you need to clean house. There may be choices and circumstances in your life you need to lose. Colossians 3:5-8 talks about this. You are to put off those things that trip you up. You are not to strut around in them any longer. Even though those things used to be part of your life, they have no business being attached to you now.
What are you keeping around that you know you need to get rid of because it keeps causing you to stumble? What practical changes can you make to remove or lessen the temptations? Take out the garbage and kick it to the curb (Psalm 101:2-3).
4 – Renew
As you rid yourself of these practices, you have to put on something in their place. You need to renew your new self. How? Well, just a verse down in Colossians it says you are to change how you think – your knowledge. Your thoughts should no longer come from your ideas and opinions, but from your Creator (Colossians 3:9-10). You are now to put on things like compassion, patience, and love for others, instead of your self-serving idols (Colossians 3:12).
You need to be continually conformed to Christ, not yourself or even the things of this world. Renew your mind when you begin to learn God’s ways and what pleases Him (Romans 12:2). You do this mainly through the study and application of His Word.
5 – Remember
Remembering and recalling the truths of God’s Word can help you not to sin. The Psalmist found when he memorized and internalized God’s precepts, it enlightened his thoughts by truth, and as a result, he was now able to make good choices (Psalm 119:9-11).
Rehearsing God’s truth is how Jesus resisted the enticing offers Satan dangled in front of Him. Even though Jesus was weak and hungry after 40 days of not eating, He strengthened Himself in the midst of temptation by remembering and reciting the powerful Words of God to combat the attack (Matthew 4:1-11). If it worked for Jesus, then it will work for you!
Peter says in his second letter God specifically gave you His promises so you could have a way of escape from the corruption of this world. And guess what brought about this corruption? Everybody (2 Peter 1:4).
He then goes on to say the things you should pursue, things such as goodness, self-control, and perseverance so that you won’t be ineffective and unproductive in your life. If you do these things and keep doing them, you will not fall and give in to your sinful desires (2 Peter 1:5-11).
6 – Run
If it’s possible, remove yourself from a tempting situation and run, quickly! Fast – Leave – Emergency – Exit – FLEE! The best example of this in Scripture has to go to Joseph. When the wife of Potiphar, Joseph’s master, caught a glimpse of this well-built hunk, she wanted him, badly (Genesis 39:6-7).
She kept at it, day after day, insisting he go to bed with her. But Joseph flat out refused (Genesis 39:10). He knew it was a wicked thing to do not only against his master, but ultimately, it would be a sin against his God (Genesis 39:9).
Since her continual advances towards Joseph hadn’t worked, one day she decides to physically grab hold of him, demanding that he sleep with her. In response, Joseph turned and ran away, getting out of there as fast as his feet could carry him. He fled so quickly in fact that his coat was stripped from his body, still clutched in the hands of this desperate housewife of Egypt (Genesis 39:11-12).
Joseph had his mind set against sinning in this way. He even avoided being around this temptress whenever possible (Genesis 39:10). He took swift action in the heat of the moment and got the heck out of dodge.
So as you think about your temptations, what specific situations can you avoid? Are there places, and perhaps even people, you need to flee from because they are a source of temptation for you? Don’t waste time and toy around with danger any longer. Take a cue from Joseph and flee!
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7 – Rely
Your sinful nature tells you to rely on yourself. You think you got this thing and can handle life on your own. Ha! So how’s that working for ya? Not so good, huh? Me either.
Jesus says you can do nothing on your own. That’s right. N O T H I N G (John 15:5). You must remain in Him, staying connected to Him through His Word and prayer.
Jesus warned His disciples to watch and pray so they wouldn’t fall into temptation (Matthew 26:41). Prayer was the way to show their dependence and reliance on God, and the avenue to receive strength and help in their weaknesses.
Confess your need for help to God. Cry out to Him and learn to depend on His mighty power to give you victory over your temptations. Ask Him to reveal to you the areas in your life where you are self-reliant. You can’t produce anything good in your life without Him.
Wrapping it up
Your temptations can become too much to bear on your own. The weight of your sinful desires can seem so heavy that you feel as if you’re sinking at times. So what does it mean in 1 Corinthians 10:13 that God will not allow temptation beyond what you can bear?
The word “bear” in this passage means “to bear by being under, bear up (a thing placed on one’s shoulders). In (Matthew 11:28-30), Jesus invites you to come to Him with your heavy burdens and yoke yourself to Him.
An actual yoke is a wooden beam placed around the necks of a pair of animals (usually oxen) to enable them to pull a heavy load. The force of the load is transmitted from the shoulders of the two animals as they walk together side by side.
Joined to Christ means He will help to bear the weight of your burdens and temptations, giving you rest and the ability to endure. You can bear up under it.
The things you yoke yourself to like your evil desires and the idols of your heart make terrible burden bearers. Instead of providing relief, they add more stress to your already heavy load. Jesus tenderly offers a better way. He wants you to exchange your ways for His.
He is willing and able to help you in your temptations when you begin to rely on Him, and not yourself (Hebrews 2:18). You were never meant to bear these temptations alone. Come to Jesus. Give Him that burdensome load you’ve been carrying around causing you to stumble and fall. He is your escape plan!