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Overcoming Temptation

February 24th, 2010

“Submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee.” James 4:7 NKJV

“You govern the gate to your soul; govern it well.”

My thoughts today are about “overcoming temptation.”

Temptation seems to come with the territory. If you are human, you will be tempted. The question is not whether you will be tempted; that is certain. Rather, the matter is what you will do when you are. As long as you live, you will face temptations of various kinds. You will learn to successfully navigate your way through temptations or they will create havoc in your life and the lives of others around you. It is wise to recognize temptation’s early symptoms and to deal with it quickly and wisely.

Temptation’s warning sign is to badly want to have something or do something when at the same time your heart knows you shouldn’t. The Bible says, “Remember then, it is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it.” James 4:17 NLT. I think we all face that problem in some measure. You know better; you just do not always do better.

The source of this ambivalence – “a double minded man is unstable in all his ways” (James 1:8) – has three points of origin, the world, the flesh, and the devil. Those are the three avowed enemies of everything holy and good. The devil pulls and pushes you from one side while the world draws you from the other, and caught in between is your sin-weakened flesh – the carnal nature which struggles to resist its sympathy with the world’s enticing allure, and its historical link with the very real power of an enemy who seeks to dominate you now and damn your soul forever.

On this the Bible is clear, “Each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full grown gives birth to death.” James 1:14-15 NIV). There is an undeniable progress to temptation and its inevitable result – from desire to enticed, from enticed to sin, from sin to death! – and it all begins with you and “your own evil desire.” It starts with you; it can stop with you. Read James 1:12-15 NIV.

My friend, Campbell, often reminded me “the heart cannot desire what the eye has not seen.” You govern the gate to your soul; govern it well. Job was a wise and Godly man. “I made a covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully . .” Job 31:1 NIV. Adam and Eve, as well as you and me, would have been a lot better off if they had not looked upon the forbidden fruit as “pleasing to the eyes.” Genesis 3:6 NIV. Avert your eyes; guard your heart; save your soul. Remember, every temptation is not a sin; yielding to it could be.

Understand that you must take the initiative to withstand the evil tendencies, yet realize that you are not able to succeed on your own. Temptation is a powerful thing that is stronger than you can defeat alone, but never stronger than God’s power within you. See 1 John 4:4 NIV. Be assured that you are an overcomer through Christ. See 1 Corinthians 10:12-13 NIV. Be diligent against your adversary. See 1 Peter 5:8-9 NIV. Stay submitted to God in obedience and trust. Stand in firm resistance for righteousness in all things. “Submit yourselves to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” James 4:7. Watch the devil run the other way! You can overcome temptation.

My prayer for you today is to walk humbly before the Lord and wisely in the world.

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