Some time ago I was dealing with the issue of social mores. I needed to define the term, so I stated that, “when the moon hits your eye, like a big pizza pie, that’s a more.” (Unfortunately, I truly did say that) Then I said, “I’m sorry, I just couldn’t help myself.” The truth of the matter is that I had planned to say that all along and if I wanted to, I could have helped myself. All too often we fall in areas of temptation and we try to excuse it by stating that we were unable to help ourselves. But, for the child of God, there is no legitimate excuse for personal failure when tempted.
If Christians are to be victorious in overcoming temptation there are four things they need to know. The first is themselves. It’s very easy to believe that we are impervious to temptation. We are living in a day when our self-worth has been exaggerated way beyond reality. We are told that we can do just about anything as long as we believe in ourselves. The apostle Paul says otherwise. In Romans 7:18 he writes, “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.” Knowing that I am vulnerable forces me to seek assistance which will enable me to be victorious.
The second thing we need to know is our enemy. When we believe that there are no enemies to face, then we are “ripe for the pickin’.” Notice that “enemies” is plural, not singular. In the verses following the one above, Paul states that a war is taking place within him between the will of God and his own deprived sin nature. The apostle John writes of overcoming the world in 1 John 5:14. The world he speaks of is a system of thought and action that runs counter to the will of God. The common excuse for defeat by this enemy is, “everyone’s doing it.” Then there is the devil. Peter states that he walks about seeking who he may devour (1 Peter 5:8). You and I are on his menu for lunch. The name “Devil” emphasizes his deception concerning the will of God, while the name “Satan” emphasizes his adversarial opposition to the will of God.
The third thing we need to know is our circumstances. My favorite proverb in the Bible is 22:3, “A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself: but the simple pass on, and are punished.” Certain things may be a greater temptation to me than to you, and vice versa. If I know that I have a problem controlling my spending and I am going into debt, it probably is a good idea for me to cut up all my credit cards. While this may be an excessive action for you, if you do not struggle with the temptation, it may be the only thing that will keep me from “passing on.”
The fourth thing we need to know is our resources for victory. There are four. The first is the Scriptures. In the three temptations of Jesus Christ in the wilderness, He responded to all three with the words, “it is written.” John states that we overcome the world by our faith and Paul states that faith is generated by hearing the Word of God. The second resource is the Spirit. While Paul states that there is nothing good in his flesh in Romans 7, he goes on to state in Romans 8, that by the Spirit’s enablement he can be victorious. The third resource is our supplication to God (prayer). It has been rightly said that the church advances on its knees. The fourth resource is our salvation. Paul stated that we are more than conquerors through him who loved us (Romans 8:37). With every temptation will be the accusation that I am incapable of resisting it. The accusation will be true when limited to my own abilities. But being in Christ renders it a complete lie.
May we be found faithful in helping ourselves and overcoming temptation.