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Every Temptation Has a Loophole and Is Resistible
Simply put, the Bible tells us that God won’t let us be tempted beyond what we can bear (1 Cor. 10:13). If this is true—and it is—then that means you and I aren’t doomed to failure when it comes to temptation. No matter what those potato chips try to tell us! I have a choice with every temptation. I just need to decide what my choice will be. To succumb to my own desires (to sin) or to surrender to the will of God.
Succumb or surrender. Those are my choices. Easy. As. Pie. (Not.) Which means that these types of well-worn excuses and rationalizations no longer hold any water:
I couldn’t help myself.
He was actually interested in me and told me I was beautiful.
The Devil made me do it!
But it was on sale.
I was just so mad.
Well, she started it!
My executive pastor, Dan Burrell, summed it up well in an email:
God doesn’t invite us to sin, and Satan can’t force us to sin. When we give in to temptation, we take an opportunity to face a choice and choose wrongly. The Christian, however, has more than just free will to help us choose. We have the Spirit of God, who faithfully enables, informs, encourages, and invites us to choose wisely. God does not allow the Christian to get into the place where she has a test that she is not able to meet.
Yes. We have the Holy Spirit sealed within us, and He can empower us to connect our challenges to the strength of God 24-7.
I’m so glad. Aren’t you?
I’m always going to face temptations. You will too. It’s inevitable for each of us. But I still want to live out the promises of God each day, to sidestep temptation, and to walk in the power of the Holy Spirit. To do that, I came up with six tools that can help me tackle temptations when the gates blow open. I’m pretty sure they’ll help you too.
1. Identify my top temptations. What temptations am I most vulnerable to? Knowledge is power. Just naming them and making a list helps me keep them on my radar.
2. Surrender my temptations to God. I take my list to Jesus. I acknowledge them, own them, confess any past failures, and recognize that this is a heart matter that can lead to a sin matter. I hash out any of my desires that are contrary to the Word of God.
3. Pray specifically and continually about the identified temptations. If I follow this principle and ask the Lord to keep me from the specific temptations that wink at me most, I’m strengthened in those moments of temptation.
4. Memorize Scripture verses that speak to my biggest temptations. I can be quick to snap a sassy answer, so I’ve committed Proverbs 31:26 to memory: “She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue” (ESV). When I’m tempted to reply with a ’tude, I turn from the temptation, adjust my behavior to the Word, and choose to honor God by saying nothing or editing my comment.
5. Remove myself from temptation triggers. No rocket science here. If alcohol is my weakness, I can make a choice to not hang out with certain friends who drink a lot or with friends who pressure me to drink. I can also decide to stay away from places that serve alcohol. If sugar is my weakness, I can decide to not buy sweets for my pantry. If overspending is my weakness, I can choose to cut up my credit cards and pay cash instead.
6. Find an accountability friend. This is huge. Having someone help keep me in check makes a big difference. So I found a Christian friend I trust who has the courage to challenge me. When I asked if she was available and willing to be an accountability partner, she agreed. I can be honest with her about my greatest temptations, and I give her permission to ask hard questions and speak hard truths.
When I use these tools, I’m better equipped to face the temptations that will be staring me down in the moments, days, weeks, months, and years to come. If I want it all, I have to want all the boundaries that protect me from the dangers of temptation. So instead of trying to pretend that temptations don’t faze me, I prepare for them. This helps me walk in the power of the Spirit.
James 4:7–8 says, “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you.” And that is right where I want to be. Near to God, doing life step by step with Jesus.
Want to walk with us? Obviously we all have different strides. I walk quickly. You might stroll. It’s all good, as long as you and I lock arms with Jesus … and let Him lead.
Gwen Smith is the author of several books, a gifted songwriter, and a sought-after speaker and worship leader. Gwen is also the co-founder of Girlfriends in God, a conference and devotional ministry. She and her husband, Brad, have three teenagers and live in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Publication date: March 1, 2016