Christian Biblical Counsel: TEMPTATION

Background

As the compass needle is affected by magnetic attraction, so the Christian feels the attraction of sin. This is illustrated by Israel’s desire to return to the “leeks and garlics” of Egypt (Numbers 11:5); and by Demas, the young man the apostle Paul mentions as having left the ministry because he “loved this present world” (2 Timothy 4:10). Paul describes the Christian as having two natures, the old and the new, which constantly compete for supremacy. The Christian must understand this, and learn to confront this “magnetic pull” of his or her own sinful nature and Satan’s wiles.

 

Some Things to Remember About Temptation

• Temptation is common to all Christians: “But remember this—the wrong desires that come into your life aren’t anything new and different. Many others have faced exactly the same problems before you” (1 Corinthians 10:13, TLB).

• Temptation is of the devil (Matthew 4:1–11).

• Temptation itself is not sin, but succumbing to it is.

• God does not personally lead us into temptation: “Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am tempted by God’; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone” (James 1:13). But God does permit us to be tempted (Job 1:6–12) so that we can face temptation, overcome it, and become stronger: “I have written to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the wicked one” (1 John 2:14; see James 1:12).

• No temptation is irresistible: “You can trust God to keep the temptation from becoming so strong that you can’t stand up against it, for he has promised this and will do what he says. He will show you how to escape temptation’s power so that you can bear up patiently against it” (1 Corinthians 10:13, TLB).

• Whatever we experience, Jesus has been there before us. He “was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15).

 

Helping Strategy

1. Ask if the inquirer is a Christian, one who has received Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. If he or she is not, explain “Steps to Peace with God,” –Christian Biblical Counsel: STEPS TO PEACE WITH GOD

No one is strong enough to overcome temptation without God’s help, regardless of how high his or her ideals or motives.

2. Share ways to confront and overcome temptation:

A. We must resist the tempter: “Resist the devil and he will flee from you” (James 4:7).

B. We must submit to God (James 4:7). This we do by:

(1) Committing ourselves daily to God (Romans 12:1), and daily confessing all known sins, so that there is no unnecessary “buildup” of temptations (Psalm 51:10).

(2) Subjecting our minds to His control:

• “Be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2).

• “Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth” (Colossians 3:2).

(3) The discipline of prayer:

• “Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).

• “Pray all the time. Ask God for anything in line with the Holy Spirit’s wishes” (Ephesians 6:18, TLB).

(4) Reading, studying, and memorizing the Bible. Dwight L. Moody used to say, “Sin will keep you from this book, or this book will keep you from sin”:

• “The word of God is living and active. . . . It judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12, NIV).

(5) Associating with the right kinds of friends—God’s people:

• “Do not be misled: ‘Bad company corrupts good character’” (1 Corinthians 15:33, NIV).

• “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching” (Hebrews 10:24–25, NIV).

(6) Putting on the whole armor of God (Ephesians 6:13–18).

(7) Dependence on the Holy Spirit:

• “How much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!” (Luke 11:13).

• “And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever” (John 14:16).

• “When He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth” (John 16:13).

 

Scripture

“Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. When tempted, no one should say, ‘God is tempting me.’ For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but 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 1:12–15, NIV).

“Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ. For the accuser of our brothers, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down. They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death” (Revelation 12:10–11, NIV).

 

Other suggested Scriptures:

Matthew 4:1–11

Romans 8:26

Galatians 5:16

The Billy Graham Christian Worker’s Handbook; World Wide Publications, 1984, 1996

Temptation

1.   Satan subtly tempted Eve.

Gen. 3:1–4. Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.’ ” Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die.”

2.   The devil still prowls around like a lion, seeking whom he may devour.

1 Peter 5:8–9. Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world.

3.   Satan at times comes as an angel of light.

2 Cor. 11:14–15. And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works.

4.   At times, Satan uses others to entice us.

Prov. 1:10. My son, if sinners entice you, Do not consent.

5.   God tempts no one. Each one is tempted when, by his own desire, he is dragged away and enticed.

James 1:13–15. Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.

6.   Resist the devil.

James 4:7. Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.

7.   Jesus was tempted by the devil.

Matt. 4:1–11.

8.   Jesus won by using the sword of the Spirit, God’s Word, each time.

Matt. 4:4, 7, 10. (Each time Jesus said, “It is written …”)

9.   Jesus tells us to watch and pray, lest we should yield to temptation.

Matt. 6:13. And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.

Matt. 26:41. “Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

10. Every Christian should take heed, lest he or she should fall.

1 Cor. 10:12. Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.

11. Put on the whole armor of God to fight against the devil’s schemes.

Eph. 6:10–18.

Eph. 6:10–12. Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.

12. When he was tempted by Potiphar’s wife to commit adultery, Joseph refused to sin against God.

Gen. 39:6–20.

Gen. 39:9–10. “There is no one greater in this house than I, nor has he kept back anything from me but you, because you are his wife. How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?” So it was, as she spoke to Joseph day by day, that he did not heed her, to lie with her or to be with her.[1]

Temptation

Promise of Pleasure—Lured by a Lie

by June Hunt

On a rough wooden pier, the seasoned fisherman tediously fastens his hook on a line, then baits the hook with what he suspects will lure the fish to bite. This old angler knows that certain fish can be caught only with certain bait … a dry fly for trout, worms for bass, stink bait for catfish. What the fish doesn’t know is, “All is not what it appears to be.” Within a tempting moment there’s a bite—a fight—and then a skinned fish fillet!

We all know too well what it’s like to be lured by a lie. Something offers a promise, but in the end it doesn’t pay. Temptation is that attractive lure hiding the deadly hook. But take heart, you don’t have to take a bite.

“There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.”

(Proverbs 14:12)

I.     DEFINITIONS

A. What Is Temptation?

•     The most common meaning of the word temptation is “an enticement to do wrong.”

—  The word entice comes from an old Greek hunting and fishing term deleazo, which means “to lure by a bait.”

—  No bait will tempt everyone, but everyone is tempted by some type of bait. What will tempt you depends on the desires within your heart.

“Each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed.” (James 1:14)

•     The Old Testament Hebrew word nasah means “an attempt to prove the quality of something.”

—  Nasah is most often translated in the Bible as “test, prove, tempt or try.”

—  God permits us to be tested (tempted) in order to reveal our strengths and our weaknesses.

Biblical Example:

God tested Abraham by asking him to sacrifice his beloved son, Isaac, as a burnt offering. Isaac was the apple of Abraham’s eye. Though he could have refused, he obeyed. When Abraham proved his faithfulness, God spared Isaac’s life. (Read Genesis chapter 22.)

“Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, ‘Abraham!’ ‘Here I am,’ he replied. Then God said, ‘Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering.’ ”

(Genesis 22:1–2)

•     The New Testament Greek word peirasmos means “a temptation to sin” or “a trial with a beneficial purpose.”

—  This same Greek word is also translated “test” or “trial.”

—  When you are tempted, you are in a trying situation that reveals your character and tests your commitment.

—  When you are tested by temptation, you are being refined by fire.

“In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.” (1 Peter 1:6–7)

Temptation was experienced by Jesus.

Therefore, He is fully able to help you in your temptation.

“Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.”

(Hebrews 2:18)

B. What Are Some Twisted Truths about Temptation?

Twisted Truth #1:

“Temptation is sinful.”

Truth:

Temptation is not sin. Jesus was tempted in every way, yet He did not sin.

“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin.” (Hebrews 4:15)

Twisted Truth #2:

“God is tempting me!”

Truth:

Temptation is not from God, but it is allowed by God.

“When tempted, no one should say, ‘God is tempting me.’ For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone.” (James 1:13)

Twisted Truth #3:

“The devil made me do it!”

Truth:

Temptation is Satan’s attempt to lure you into sin, but he can be resisted.

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

Twisted Truth #4:

“Somebody else made me do it.”

Truth:

No one can make you kill, steal, lie, cheat or commit any immoral act. You have a choice as to whether you give in to temptation or not.

“My son, if sinners entice you, do not give in to them.” (Proverbs 1:10).

Twisted Truth #5:

“She is so saintly, she is above temptation.”

Truth:

Everyone is tempted, just in different areas. In fact, the mature Christian is often subject to greater temptation.

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

Twisted Truth #6:

“A thought can’t be sinful.”

Truth:

An initial impure thought is not sinful, though it is a temptation. However, continuing with an unholy thought can make you captive to sin.

“Repent of this wickedness and pray to the Lord. Perhaps he will forgive you for having such a thought in your heart. For I see that you are full of bitterness and captive to sin.” (Acts 8:22–23)

Twisted Truth #7:

“Just pull yourself up by your bootstraps.”

Truth:

Temptation is not overcome by your own willpower. Temptation is defeated by admitting your weaknesses and yielding to Christ’s power within you.

“He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)

Twisted Truth #8:

“God is angry at me when I’m tempted.”

Truth:

God does not disapprove of you because you are tempted. He can use the temptation as a tool to develop your character.

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (James 1:2–4)

Twisted Truth #9:

“What’s the use? I’ve already blown it!”

Truth:

Failure is overcome by a change of focus: putting the past behind you and focusing on God’s goal for you—Christlikeness. In Philippians 3:13–14, Paul shared how he appropriated this truth in his own life.

“Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:13–14)

Twisted Truth #10:

“It’s beyond my ability to control.”

Truth:

Temptation may be beyond your control, but it is not beyond God’s control.

“For the Lord will be your confidence and will keep your foot from being snared.” (Proverbs 3:26)

C. How Do You Track Temptation?

•     Facing Temptation

—  Temptation is experienced by everyone.

—  Temptation occurs often in an area where you have been previously ensnared.

—  Temptation begins in your mind.

—  Temptation takes advantage of your attractions and fears.

—  Temptation appears to meet a legitimate need but does so illegitimately in the wrong way or at the wrong time.

“In the paths of the wicked lie thorns and snares, but he who guards his soul stays far from them.” (Proverbs 22:5)

•     Falling into Temptation

—  Temptation strikes when your heart is “off guard.”

—  Temptation is entered into by allowing your imagination to dwell on the tempting thoughts.

—  Temptation uses rationalization to numb your conscience.

—  Temptation becomes relentless and urgent.

—  Temptation provides highly unusual opportunities to enter into sin.

“Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.” (Matthew 26:41)

Biblical Example

David and Bathsheba

2 Samuel 11:1–13

David’s rooftop temptation led him into the cellar of despair. Yet David wouldn’t have been tempted in the first place had he not been in the wrong place. Why was he at home when, as king, he should have been in battle? What prompted his sleepless nights and nocturnal roamings? Was David in despair or was he at the height of spiritual self-sufficiency? Whatever the state, the enemy can climb a housetop or creep into an unprotected heart.

When David first glanced at Bathsheba’s body in the bath, he indeed found her beautiful, but he stepped into sin when he looked too long. Little did he know how much he was about to lose. The king became captive to lust, and he lost the blessing of God. In later years, as he looked upon his life, perhaps he could have penned this sorrowful song:

Sin will make you stray further than you thought you’d stray,

Sin will make you stay longer than you thought you’d stay,

Sin will make you pay much more than you thought you’d pay.

II.    CHARACTERISTICS

A. The Taste of Temptation

What savory flavor! Temptation always appeals to the vulnerable part of your heart. The taste will be palatable, persistent and powerful. Yet undeniably, it is never good to the last bite.

“When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.”

(Genesis 3:6)

Temptation is …

Enticing       It appeals to your hopes and desires.

Enjoyable    It promises you immense pleasure.

Evasive         It evades the truth with excuses.

Enslaving     It ensnares your mind and emotions.

Escalating    It multiplies your appetite for more.

Elusive         It fails to produce what was promised.

Exclusive      It restricts your relationship with God.

“They promise them freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity—for a man is a slave to whatever has mastered him.”

(2 Peter 2:19)

B. Trapped by Temptation

The time to deal with temptation is when you first feel drawn—well before the first bite is taken. Turn quickly from the enticing thought, for once you taste its fruit, you are sure to find yourself trapped by its poisonous pleasure.

“The righteousness of the upright delivers them, but the unfaithful are trapped by evil desires.”

(Proverbs 11:6)

The Temptation Trap

•     Are you denying the temptation?

•     Are you defensive about your actions?

•     Are you downcast with hidden guilt?

•     Are you distracted from other interests?

•     Are you dreading eventual exposure?

•     Are you doubtful of your salvation?

“My eyes are ever on the Lord, for only he will release my feet from the snare.”

(Psalm 25:15)

III.   CAUSES

A. Causes of Defeat

The heartwarming fairy tale of Snow White mirrors the Genesis story of Eve’s disastrous fall into temptation in the Garden of Eden. Although she was ardently instructed to beware of the evil queen, Snow White was drawn by her own desire to taste the dazzling apple … so drawn by its appeal that she never recognized the evil from whence it came. You know the rest … with the bite came a sleeping death that could be reversed only by her savior, the prince. Although a picture of innocence, Snow White had not learned to recognize and deal with temptation. It almost cost her life!

“Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”

(1 Peter 5:8)

Satan’s Avenues of Appeal

Satan, “prince of this world” and “god of this age,” is our formidable accuser and adversary. As ruler of the kingdom of the air, he uses all his resources, including the ways of the world and the desires of our flesh to entice, allure and tempt us to follow him in sinful disobedience to God.

“You were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath.”

(Ephesians 2:1–3)

Eve’s Temptation

Genesis 3:1–6

•     Satan enticed Eve to disobey God and act independently of His will.

•     Satan tempted Eve to act on her physical desires to … taste what is good.

•     Satan tempted Eve through her natural desire to … have what is pleasing to the eye.

•     Satan tempted Eve by appealing to her need for significance and her prideful desire to … “be like God.”

Jesus’ Temptation

Matthew 4:1–10

•     Satan enticed Jesus to act for Himself, independently of His Father.

•     Satan tempted Jesus to meet His own physical needs … turn the stones into bread.

•     Satan tempted Jesus by displaying something unusually desirable … “showed him all the kingdoms of the world.”

•     Satan tempted Jesus by seeking to get Him to prove His own significance … “if you are the Son of God.”

Your Temptation

1 John 2:16

•     Satan entices me to act independently of God and attempt to meet my own needs.

•     Satan tempts me to follow my physical desires … “lust of the flesh (KJV).”

•     Satan tempts me to go after what is visually desirable … “lust of the eyes (KJV).”

•     Satan tempts me through my desire for personal significance … “pride of life (KJV).”

“Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.”

(1 Peter 5:9)

In response to each offer by Satan, Jesus quoted the Word of God. He established the pattern we are to follow. Victory comes when you learn to stand on truth and on the promises of God.

B. Root Cause

Once Satan gets his foot in the door to your heart, holy ground is lost because your emotions are allowed to control your thinking.

Wrong Belief:

“This is so tempting that right now I want it more than anything else. Although I know it’s wrong, I feel that I need it.”

Right Belief:

Although I may feel miserable for a time, I know what God wants for my life is best. I will become more like Christ by depending on His strength to resist temptation.

“Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall.” (Psalm 55:22)

IV.  STEPS TO SOLUTION

A. Key Verse to Memorize

“No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. 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 stand up under it.”

(1 Corinthians 10:13)

B. Key Passage to Read and Reread

Romans chapter 6

See Yourself Dead to Sinful Desires

•     Because   you are a believer, you are dead to the bondage of sin.  v. 2 
•     Because   you are “baptized into Christ,”you picture your old pattern of sin as   dead and buried and see your new power over sin.  v. 3 
•     Because   you are “buried with Christ,” your old way of life is buried.  v. 4 
•     Because   you are “raised with Christ,” you have resurrection power over sin.  v. 4 
•     Because   you are “united with Christ in His death,” you are dead to the power of   sin’s desire.  v. 5 
•     Because   you are “united with Christ in His resurrection,” you have upernatural   power over sin.  v. 5 
•     Because   your sin nature was “crucified with Christ,” your natural bent to sin is   crucified.  v. 6 
•     Because   all who have died are free from sin,you are no longer a slave to sin.  v. 7 
•     Because   you “died with Christ,” you died to sin’s power.  v. 8 
•     Because   you know that death has no mastery over Christ,you are not to be   mastered by the fear of death.  v. 9 
•     Because   you know that Christ lives for God, you are to live for God.  v. 10 
•     Because   you count yourself “dead to sin,” you deem yourself dead to your old way   of life.  v. 11 
•     Because   you have been “brought from death to life,” your body is an instrument   for living in a way that is right.  v. 13 

C. The Freedom Formula

Formula for Self-Control

A New Purpose + A New Priority + A New Plan = Transformed Life

•     Choose to reflect the character of Christ.

“For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son.” (Romans 8:29)

•     Choose to exchange your old habit for a new habit.

“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” (Romans 12:2)

•     Choose to rely on Christ’s strength, not your own strength.

“I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:13)

•     Choose to appropriate God’s Gift of self-control.

“Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed.” (1 Peter 1:13)

Illustrations: How to Use the Formula

Hooked on Hunger

•     A New Purpose:

I want to reflect self-control through my eating and my appearance.

•     A New Priority:

I will replace my overeating with healthy eating habits.

•     A New Plan:

I will rely on Christ’s strength, not mine …

—  to plan and shop for healthy foods

—  to remove any tempting foods from my home

—  to eat small portions of healthy food

—  to refuse fattening foods

—  to eat healthy snacks

—  to drink plenty of fluids

—  to avoid tempting situations and opportunities

—  to get involved in enjoyable projects when tempted (exercise, hobbies, reading, etc.)

—  to be accountable to a friend each week

—  to memorize and claim pertinent Scriptures

“Whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31)

Pulled by Pornography

•     A New Purpose:

I want to reflect the character of Christ through what I choose to see and read.

•     A New Priority:

I will replace my old lust for pornography with a new love for purity.

•     A New Plan:

I will rely on Christ’s strength, not mine …

—  to have a zero tolerance for stimulating materials

—  to share with a friend weekly concerning my pornography habits

—  to develop a strategy for Internet use by either getting rid of my computer, using it only under the password supervision of my wife or roommate or by installing accountability software on my computer (for example, http://www.covenanteyes.com)

—  to be extreme in purging tempting materials from my routine

—  to pursue regular healthy intimacy with my wife

—  to develop strong, open, same-sex friendships

—  to establish an accountability partner whom I can call in the moment of temptation

—  to fill my mind and heart with Scriptures about mental and sexual purity

D. Resisting Temptation

Running from temptation is not always the answer. You may escape a snare that is stalking the streets only to fall for the bait that is hidden in your own backyard. God’s way of escape is not always agonizing avoidance, but the more reliable, ready resistance. In your struggle with Satan’s tailor-made temptations, learn to stand by leaning on the Lord. His strength is sufficient for your success!

“In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.”

(Hebrews 12:4)

Recognize the source.

•     Realize that Satan is the author of tempting thoughts.

•     Remember Satan’s purpose is to destroy your character.

•     Refuse to be snared by Satan.

•     Recall that Satan is a defeated foe.

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (Ephesians 6:12)

Expect to win the war.

•     Expect to give your total commitment.

•     Expect many battles.

•     Expect to win even if you lose some minor battles.

•     Expect Christ to win the war for you.

“In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” (Romans 8:37)

Search your heart.

•     Do you know that temptation is revealing your unmet need?

•     Do you know the unmet needs to which you are vulnerable (the need for love, for significance and for security)?

•     Do you know that seeking to meet the need yourself is sin?

•     Do you know whether you sincerely want to be delivered from this sin?

•     Do you know that you are powerless to overcome sin in your own strength?

•     Do you know that God will meet your need in His time?

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.” (1 Peter 5:6)

Imagine the consequences.

•     Think about the loss of your reputation.

•     Think about the guilt and shame you would experience.

•     Think about the loss of peace and a clear conscience.

•     Think about the pain you may cause others.

•     Think about the tragic consequences suffered by those who yielded to temptation in Scripture:

—  Lot’s wife was turned to salt. (Read Genesis 19:1–29.)

—  Samson lost his sight and strength. (Read Judges chapter 16.)

—  David grieved over his divided family. (Read 2 Samuel 12:9–12.)

“Because of your wrath there is no health in my body; my bones have no soundness because of my sin.” (Psalm 38:3)

Sense God’s presence.

•     God is with you every moment.

•     God knows your needs and desires.

•     God knows your every thought.

•     God knows how to help you control your thoughts.

“Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.” (Hebrews 4:13)

Transform your thoughts with truth.

•     See your temptation as a test of loyalty.

•     State the spiritual truth that sin has no power over you.

•     Spend regular time praying for Christ’s strength.

•     Seek God’s will and way through reading His Word.

•     Select specific Scriptures to memorize that apply to your area of temptation.

—  temptation to talk too much

“When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise.” (Proverbs 10:19)

—  temptation to be too critical

“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” (Ephesians 4:29)

—  temptation to go where you should not go

“Do not swerve to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil.” (Proverbs 4:27)

—  temptation to be sexually impure

“Can a man walk on hot coals without his feet being scorched? So is he who sleeps with another man’s wife; no one who touches her will go unpunished.” (Proverbs 6:28–29)

—  temptation to gossip

“A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy man keeps a secret.” (Proverbs 11:13)

—  temptation to lust after a woman

“I made a covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully at a girl.” (Job 31:1)

—  temptation to be judgmental

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged.” (Matthew 7:1)

—  temptation to be prideful

“What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you?” (James 4: 1)

—  temptation to be hot-tempered

“Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.” (James 1:19–20)

“The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”

(2 Corinthians 10:4–5)

E. The Road Back Home

As a child, did you ever run away from home and then fearfully realize that eventually you would have to go back? You were probably unaware that your parents were anxious about your safety, and any thought of punishment had long vanished.… Their only concern was to have you close and back under their loving protection.

The truth is we are all runaway children in need of the loving arms of our Father. Although you may have succumbed to temptation and find you’re now in the desert of sin and self-reproach, remember that you are still the child of a Father who does not accuse you, one who is waiting for your return. If your heart is emotionally hungry … if your soul is spiritually famished … run home to God, run home. Even if you are a long way off, He is compassionately looking for you and waiting with open arms.

“So he got up and went to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.”

(Luke 15:20)

The Road Back Home

Isaiah chapter 30

Isaiah chapter 30 pictures God’s relationship with His Hebrew children. They had been rebellious, deceitful and disobedient. “These are rebellious people, deceitful children, children unwilling to listen to the Lord’s instruction” (Isaiah 30:9). In spite of their rebellion, God reveals His compassion and His provision for their way back home. (Read Isaiah 30:15–26.)

•     Repent

“This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says: ‘In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it.’ ” (Isaiah 30:15)

Repentance involves genuine grief over your sin—not just sorrow for the consequences. Repentance also requires total honesty before God, acknowledging your responsibility and turning from temptation.

Prayer:

“Lord, I hate the fact that I have sinned, yet I alone am responsible and am willing to turn from temptation and trust in You.”

•     Rest

“The Lord longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him!” (Isaiah 30:18)

Accept God’s grace toward you as He offers His forgiveness. Rest in His compassion. Don’t run ahead of the Lord … just wait to know His will.

Prayer:

“Lord, instead of doing what I want, I will rest and wait to know Your will.”

•     Return

“O people of Zion, who live in Jerusalem, you will weep no more. How gracious he will be when you cry for help! As soon as he hears, he will answer you.” (Isaiah 30:19)

Cry out for help! As soon as God hears you, He will answer you. Although you have suffered, your pain will be eased as you allow His grace to comfort your heart.

Prayer:

“Lord, I turn to You for help, and I thank You for hearing and answering my call.”

•     Receive

“Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it.’ ” (Isaiah 30:21)

Once you return to God, you must learn His path for your life. As you pray and spend time in His Word, you will hear His voice telling you the way you must go. This way includes making restitution and accepting discipline.

Prayer:

“Lord, I am ready to receive Your road map and to walk on the road that you choose for me.”

•     Recover

“Then you will defile your idols overlaid with silver and your images covered with gold; you will throw them away like a menstrual cloth and say to them, ‘Away with you!’ ” (Isaiah 30:22)

As you yield yourself to God’s power, sin’s power will lose its hold on you. You will no longer desire to sin nor will you be in bondage to that which has controlled your mind, will and emotions.

Prayer:

“Lord, I am getting rid of everything that has had control over me so that You can be in control of my life.”

•     Rejoice

“He will also send you rain for the seed you sow in the ground, and the food that comes from the land will be rich and plentiful. In that day your cattle will graze in broad meadows. The oxen and donkeys that work the soil will eat fodder and mash, spread out with fork and shovel.… Streams of water will flow on every high mountain and every lofty hill. The moon will shine like the sun, and the sunlight will be seven times brighter, like the light of seven full days, when the Lord binds up the bruises of his people and heals the wounds he inflicted.” (Isaiah 30:23–26)

God will always bring blessing to the prodigal heart that returns home. Your life will be richer, and the sun will shine brighter as you walk in communion with the Father of Compassion.

Prayer:

“Lord, thank You for healing my heart and promising to accomplish Your purpose for me.”

Sin   is a declaration of independence from God. But when we choose sin, we find   ourselves in slavery to sin. We abolish slavery when we believe God’s Word   that the Christian is “dead to sin”—sin’s power. Abolish slavery with a   declaration of independence from sin, and experience your freedom in Christ.—June   Hunt

 

Turn from Temptation 
When Tempted   To … 
•     Blame God“When tempted,   no one should say, ‘God is tempting me.’ For God cannot be tempted by evil,   nor does he tempt anyone.” (James 1:13)

•     Complain

“Do everything   without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure,   children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which   you shine like stars in the universe.” (Philippians 2:14–15)

•     Doubt God

“What is   impossible with men is possible with God.” (Luke 18:27)

•     Give Up

“Therefore,   since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off   everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run   with perseverance the race marked out for us.” (Hebrews 12:1)

•     Lie

“Truthful lips   endure forever, but a lying tongue lasts only a moment.” (Proverbs 12:19)

•     Lust

“You have   heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone   who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his   heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away.   It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body   to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off   and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than   for your whole body to go into hell.” (Matthew 5:27–30)

•     Quarrel

“Keep reminding   them of these things. Warn them before God against quarreling about words; it   is of no value, and only ruins those who listen.” (2 Timothy 2:14)

•     Worry

“Do not worry   about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you   will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important   than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store   away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more   valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?   And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow.   They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his   splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass   of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will   he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying,   ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For   the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that   you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all   these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about   tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble   of its own.” (Matthew 6:25–34)

•     Angry

“My dear   brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to   speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the   righteous life that God desires.” (James 1:19–20)

•     Discouraged

“We are hard   pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair;   persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.” (2   Corinthians 4:8–9)

•     Disobedient

“This is love   for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome.” (1 John   5:3)

•     Impatient

“Be completely   humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” (Ephesians   4:2)

•     Self-sufficient

“I am the   vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear   much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5)

•     Unforgiving

“Bear with   each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another.   Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” (Colossians 3:13)

•     Unsubmissive

“Submit to one   another out of reverence for Christ.” (Ephesians 5:21)

•     Vengeful

“Do not repay   anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of   everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with   everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath,   for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord. On   the contrary: ‘If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him   something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.’   Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12:17–21)

“I have hidden your word in my heart that I might   not sin against you.”

(Psalm 119:11)

 

SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY

Arterburn, Stephen F., Fred Stoeker, and Mike Yorkey. Every Man’s Battle: Winning the War on Sexual Temptation One Victory at a Time. Colorado Springs, CO: WaterBrook, 2000.

Austin, Lynn. “Satan’s Tackle Box.” The Christian Reader, July/August 1994, 53–56.

Backus, William, and Marie Chapian. Why Do I Do What I Don’t Want to Do? Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House, 1984.

Baker, Don. Lord, I’ve Got a Problem. Eugene, OR: Harvest House, 1988.

Eisenman, Tom L. Temptations Men Face: Straightforward Talk on Power, Money, Affairs, Perfectionism, Insensitivity. Saltshaker Books. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1990.

Gillham, Anabel. The Building Up & Tearing Down of Strongholds. Fort Worth, TX: Lifetime Guarantee Ministries, n.d.

Gothard, Bill. Moral Freedom. n.p.: Campus Teams, Inc., 1968.

Hunt, June. Counseling Through Your Bible Handbook. Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House Publishers, 2007.

Hunt, June. How to Forgive … When You Don’t Feel Like It. Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House Publishers, 2007.

Hunt, June. How to Handle Your Emotions. Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House Publishers, 2008.

Hunt, June. Seeing Yourself Through God’s Eyes. Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House Publishers, 2008

Instititute in Basic Youth Conflicts. “Ten Steps to Conquer Impure Thoughts.” In Training Faithful Men, 1976.

Lee, Richard. The Unfailing Promise. Waco, TX: Word, 1988.

Lutzer, Erwin W. How to Say No to a Stubborn Habit: Even When You Feel LIke Saying Yes. Wheaton, IL: Victor, 1986.

Owen, John. Sin & Temptation: The Challenge to Personal Godliness. abridged ed, ed. James M. Houston. Portland, OR: Multnomah, 1983.

Smith, Hannah Whitall. “Lies in Disguise.” Last Days Magazine, Fall 1988, 7–11.

Stanley, Charles F. Temptation. Nashville: Oliver-Nelson, 1988.[2]


[1] Kruis, J. G. (1994). Quick scripture reference for counseling (electronic ed.). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.

[2] Hunt, J. (2008). Biblical Counseling Keys on Temptation: Promise of Pleasure—Lured by a Lie (1–21). Dallas, TX: Hope For The Heart.

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