Rethinking Your Life | Week 9: Fighting Temptation

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Today, we’re going to look at how to fight temptation. We are going to discover that our God is faithful and no matter where you’re trapped, God always gives us a way out. Everybody at one level or another has something in their life that is consistently there that should not be there.

So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! 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 10:12-13 NIV

Temptation is anything that promises satisfaction at the cost of obedience to God. 

Temptation promises things by saying, you’re going to like this; you’re going to feel good;  its going to make your life more meaningful; you need this; this is important; you can’t live without this.

Temptation gives a moment of satisfaction, a thrill, a buzz, a high, but is followed by shame, regret, consequences and pain. 


Four Truths of Temptation

  1. It is not a sin to be tempted

Our spiritual enemy will use false guilt to make us feel guilty when we shouldn’t feel guilty. There are many times you are tempted, but you didn’t sin. To be tempted is not the same as to sin. What our spiritual enemy wants us to do is to feel guilty; because then when we feel guilty what do we often do? We medicate our guilt with sin. 

Don’t let false guilt bring something on you that should not be there. Never associate the amount of temptation with your spirituality. Just because you are tempted does not mean you are that far from God. Jesus was tempted. 

For we do not have a high priest [Jesus] who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Hebrews 4:15 NIV

If you’re getting tempted a lot you could take it as a compliment, because if you’re not butting heads with the devil once and awhile you must be walking in the same direction.

  1. You are never above temptation

So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! 1 Corinthians 10:12

So often there are people that think, “I would never get in. I would never do that,” and they’re the very people that fall the hardest and the fastest. We’re going to guard against self-confidence, because our heart, scripture says, is deceitful above all things. 

We never know when we’re going to be vulnerable. We have no idea what we are capable of. Any single one of us is capable of anything given the right environment.  

  1. God will never tempt you.

God will test you, but He will not tempt you. There is a clear difference in scripture between trial and temptation. We are tested to move forward, to be promoted.

Trials are used by God to move you closer to God. Temptations are used by the enemy to move you away from God.

God tests you to move you forward. Satan tempts you to move you backward and there’s a big difference. 

And remember, when you are being tempted, do not say, “God is tempting me.” God is never tempted to do wrong, and he never tempts anyone else. Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death. James 1:13-15 NLT

Every time you’re tempted to do whatever is disobedient to God that is an invitation for you to depend on Christ, because in your own fleshly nature you do not always have the ability to say no to temptation.

  1. There is always a way out

No matter what you’re facing, no matter what sin has you hostage, no matter what small annoying thing has you in its grips, there is always, always a way out.

…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 NIV

If you fall, God will pick you up again and give you a way out again. The good news is that also when we’re weak, Christ’s strength is made perfect in us. Christ in you is more powerful than any wrong desire in you. 

Every time you’re tempted, God is inviting you to trust in Jesus who will set you free because the good news is this: Our God is faithful. 

How do we fight our way out? We need to understand the process of temptation. 


The Process of Temptation

These steps that happen every single time before someone does the wrong thing. These steps can take days, weeks, months, or even years, or literally, you can go through all five of these steps in a matter of moments. 

  • Thought

It begins in the mind. While a trial can be from God or used by God, temptations are never from God. They’re the enemies attempt to lure you away.  Temptation is the lure in a fishing pond. 

The devil will make sure that you have opportunity to do something you really know you shouldn’t do, but he’ll make it look so good and try to pull you away. Let’s be clear. The devil does not make you do it. No, he just gives you the opportunity to do it. 

  • Fantasy

This is where you think, what would it be like if you bit into it? If you drank it, ate it, slept with ‘em, bought it, watched it, whatever.  You start imagining how it is, when you get lustful or you start envisioning something. 

A great way out here is to change the fantasy. Instead, fantasize about finishing well. Fantasize about a long marriage with the respect of your children, or the respect of your coworkers. If you’re fantasizing about great things, God honoring things, the fantasy of sin becomes much less appealing.

  • Justification

Isn’t it interesting how we can rationalize our sin but we look at someone else’s sin and say,  “Well I’d never do that.”  Change the narrative to hate your own sins more than you hate the sins of others who sin differently than you do. 

During justification, you haven’t sinned yet. James says, you were dragged away and enticed.  Most of the scriptures in the Bible that talk to you about how to deal with sinus the word, “FLEE.”  Some of you have taken a few steps toward sin and you’re really close.  Break it off today. Stop it today. Get out of it today. Run. Flee. He’s trying to destroy your life. 

  • Sinful Action

This is where it actually is sin. Where you take the bite. 

A righteous man falls seven times, but he rises again. Proverbs 24:16

But there is hope: God will always give you a second chance. 

If you are in sin, your God doesn’t go, “Sigh. Get out of here until you get it all together.” That’s not his approach. Hebrews 4 says he sympathizes with your weakness. He’s a high priest who looked at you and said, “Yeah, that was hard. I remember that.” 

And he tells God the Father, “That really is hard. We’ve gotta help him. We gotta help her. I remember I was tempted with that, and that one is tough.” That’s how your God sees you today. He loves you with an undying love. 

The rest of Hebrews 4 says, “Let us approach the throne of grace and find mercy in our time of need.” Don’t get all discouraged, just turn it around. You already know you’re a sinner, but you can be saved today from your sin. 

However, If you don’t turn to God and receive his mercy, there’s another stage.

  • Death

Sin when it is full-grown gives birth to death. Many times there is physical death from the choices we make. But at the very least, there’s relational death, emotional death, spiritual death, financial death, and the Bible says, don’t go there. 

Because the Devil is making it look good but it will lead to death. Sin never makes life better.It leads to death and destruction every single time. So, we magnify the consequences of sin. Write down all the things that would die if you went through with that sin.

Where does it start? It always starts with a thought. We need to recognize that what happens in those first critical moments of temptation, they are far more important than you could ever imagine. 

We are going to decide ahead of time, knowing that we will be tempted. We are going to decide ahead of time, how to resist temptation so that we do not fall into something that hurts the heart of God and is destructive to us and to others. 

Fighting Your Way Out

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. James 4:7 NIV

  1. Submit to God.

The first thing we are going to do is submit to God, before you resist the devil, and that’s exactly what James said. Why? Because you don’t have the strength on your own. Your fleshly sinful nature is too weak. You are not designed to live the victorious life alone. You need the help of Christ, that’s why every temptation is an invitation to depend on Christ, so we submit to God.

How do you submit to God? For some this would mean acknowledging that what you are doing is wrong and sinful, if it’s the opposite of God’s word. Submission to God, very honestly, is a daily decision that you must make, and you must make it daily. Why? Because the lures are daily too.

When you submit to God daily, it is easier to resist temptation. When you are not submitted to God, you are vulnerable.

Temptation is anything that promises satisfaction at the cost of obedience to God. You can rely on that which promises satisfaction or you can rely on the only one that gives true satisfaction and joy and you make that choice. 

  1. Resist the Devil. 

The devil doesn’t make you sin, with Christ you can resist.

In a very real sense, this is what you do when you are attacked by the evil one. You are already submitted to God so your confidence is not in yourself, your confidence is in Christ inside of you. Whenever you see the enemy come up, with every bit of faith inside of you, say, “Greater is he that is in me than he that is in the world.”

You recognize that Christ in you is stronger than the wrong desires in you.  Whenever temptation comes our way, we should say, “I was expecting you. I’ve already submitted to God. God is with me today. I know that his strength is with me.” and then you fight back. 

One of the best ways to resist temptation is to eliminate it whenever you can. For example, this is what Solomon was saying to his son:

Do not set foot on the path of the wicked or walk in the way of evildoers. Avoid it, do not travel on it; turn from it and go on your way. Proverbs 4:14-15 NIV

This might be a game changer for you. Why would you resist temptation in the future if you have the power to eliminate it today? You decide ahead of time to distance yourself from temptation.

Another great way to resist and flee is to start quoting scripture, which actually is a really effective tool. The moment it becomes a thought, you are already prepared. Your mind is already submitted to Christ today. I’ve already agreed not to look at something, say something wrong, act in some wrong way. 

Because [Jesus] himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted. Hebrews 2:18 NIV

Jesus is not sitting at the right hand of God the Father going, “He tripped up again.” Jesus is sitting there saying, “I’m here to help him get out.” 

Christ in me is stronger than the wrong desires in me. Instead of feeling shame, condemnation or guilt, we should feel hope. Why? 

…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 NIV

When you are tempted, our God will always provide a way out. Submit to God. Resist the Devil.


Check Back

Briefly check back on your discussion from the last week, “The Problem of Sin.”

Listen to the sermon: online, iTunes podcastGoogle Play Music or Download the Rock Brook Church App

Big Idea

God does not want you to live in the cycle of sin, shame and self-hatred. In order to break that cycle, we need to change the way we think about temptation. Temptation is anything that promises satisfaction at the cost of obedience to God.

There is a way out! — Read 1 Corinthians 1:12-13

Discussion & Application

  1. Do you remember a time when a friend tried to convince you to disobey your parents. What thoughts did you have? How did you overcome the desire to make the wrong choice? Or if you disobeyed, how did you feel afterward?
  2. Of the four truths about temptation, which one was a good reminder?
  3. How do you see the process of temptation working out in your life?
  4. “And God is faithful” What is the significance of God’s faithfulness in resisting temptation? What encouragement lies in this Biblical passage?
  5. Are there any doors to temptation you are keeping cracked open that you need to slam shut? 

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. James 4:7 NIV

Prayer Focus

Ask how you can pray for and support one another this week.

Father, we know you have told us there is no temptation that is too great to resist. You always provide a way to escape. Help me understand the situations that make me most vulnerable to yielding to temptation.  When I see these conditions, teach me how to redirect my thoughts and go to your Word to claim the promises that you have given me. Help me remember you are on my side. Amen.

Next Steps

In order to resist temptation, focus your mind on something else. This week, consider your personal pattern of temptation. (anger, lust, gluttony, etc.) Then pick a few Bible verses addressing that issue. Write them down on index cards and memorize them. When the devil tempts you, refocus your mind on one of those verses.

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