In the last post of this three-part series, we looked at Satan’s side of a temptation—why he tempts us and how he does it. In this post we will look at what we can do to prepare to meet and overcome Satan’s temptations in Christ’s strength. In the last post of this series we’ll look at what we can do when we are in the middle of a temptation.
When we allow Satan to lead us into discouragement, he takes this as the perfect opportunity to lead us into deeper temptation. He starts telling us lies. We listen to them and believe them. When he tells us we’re not good enough, our thought process is often something like this: “Yes, that’s true. I know I’m not good enough. So-and-so is better than I am. Christianity won’t work for me. I might as well give up now.” This looks foolish to us when we see where those first thoughts of doubt actually originated. Still, all of us have believed those lies. Satan then tells us that the world is more fun, and we’re not good enough. We believe him and try doing a few “fun” things. Then how do we feel? Happy? Maybe initially, but once that wears off we’re even more discouraged than before.
As we learn to see through Satan’s lies, he will try other ways. For example, he will slowly, subtly convince us that he is not very powerful, or he will cause us to just “forget” about him. Then he can present his temptations to us, and we will fall for them.
I distinctly remember one day when I pretty much forgot about the devil, and I fell for his temptation as a result. We were leaving home, and in my hurry I skipped my devotions. I wanted to have time with the Lord but felt that I didn’t have the time. Throughout the day the Lord called to my heart to spend time with Him, but I was busy and continued with what I was doing.
If I had recognized that it was the devil telling me I was too busy to spend time with the Lord, I would likely have determined to stop what I was doing and spend that time with my Savior, but I was too caught up in what I was doing to recognize that I was yielding to temptation. Since I had forgotten about him, the devil had success in sending his temptations that day, and I yielded. Later that day he tempted me to read something that I knew the Lord would not want me to read. I fell for that temptation too because I was not listening to the Lord’s warnings and because I had forgotten that Satan had a plan to lead me downward that day. If I had recognized that I would face the devil’s temptations that day, I would likely not have yielded. Since I was not tuned into my need to resist him, I was caught off guard.
If you look at this example, did I recognize I was being tempted? No. This is vital. When we recognize that we are being tempted, we will be able to resist that temptation much more easily. Now we’ll look at three things that can help us to resist temptation before it comes.
1. Recognize that we cannot resist temptation without Jesus
It is vital for us to recognize that we cannot resist temptation on our own. Satan is a powerful enemy, and we need Jesus to help us resist the devil. Even Jesus said when He was here on earth, “I do nothing of myself ” (John 8:28). If Jesus would do nothing of Himself, we must not think for a moment that we can. If we could see it as it really is, we would recognize that we are tiny and weak, and the devil is large and strong. When we try to resist the devil without the Lord, it is like we are poking a giant with a plastic knife! Do you think he is going to run away? Of course not! He will only laugh at our foolishness. However, when we take hold of Jesus’ strength, the devil trembles and flees as quickly as he can. We need not be disheartened; for when we link ourselves to the power of Jesus, we need never be a failure. Praise the Lord!
2. Recognize and pray about specific temptations
The next step is to recognize the specific temptations that Satan sends our way. All of us have specific areas of weakness. When we recognize our particular weaknesses, we must earnestly pray for victory in these areas. Once we pray in faith, the Lord will answer our prayers so we can find victory, even when it seems impossible.
3. Purpose in your heart to resist temptation
When we have recognized the things that particularly tempt us, it is vital to purpose in our hearts before we enter the temptation that we will not yield. Once we have made that choice, we will be strengthened to be faithful to the Lord in not listening to Satan’s lies and attractions, especially those things that appeal to us the most. Making decisions is much easier before the temptation because in the heat of the moment we can instantly choose to be faithful to God instead of trying to decide what to do.
In the Bible Daniel and his three friends “purposed in their hearts” that they would be faithful to God while in Babylonian captivity (see Daniel 1). When they went into the banquet hall of the king’s court to eat their first meal, the food served was very unhealthy. They knew before they walked in that they could not eat it for they would dishonor God. Prior to entering the room, they had already determined to be faithful to Him. They were prepared for the temptation because they had already decided what they would do. Obviously, they still had to determine to follow their resolve in the moment, but since they had already decided what they would do, it made their choice a lot easier. We can follow their example and determine each morning to be faithful to God during the day, and then when temptation does come, we’ll be prepared. Daniel and his friends were raised from early childhood to be faithful to God no matter what. I believe they surrendered their lives to God and were consistent in spending time with Him, or they would not have made the decision to honor God no matter the circumstances. They didn’t just wake up one morning and decide that they would resist temptation. They were grounded in what they knew to be right. We can be grounded in the truth too as we seek to grow closer to the Lord, and determine to follow Him. Then we will have the desire to determine to resist temptation.
We have been looking at what we can do before temptation comes. But all the preparation we can do will not free us from the decisions we must make in the moment. In the last post of this series we will look at five things we can do in the moment of temptation.
Hannah Rayne is a young person who is passionate about her Savior Jesus Christ and she wants to share His love not only for teens and those struggling, but with everyone she meets! She believes that God’s plans are the best and only plans and wants others to experience for themselves what it truly means to fall in love with Jesus!
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