How To Fight Temptation
We can’t always pick our battles, but we can sure pick our strategies for war.
As much as we would like to avoid all unnecessary skirmishes in life, there is one war we cannot avoid, no matter how we may try to broker a peace deal.
We have to face our bully and draw our boundary lines.
Additionally, we cannot retreat.
We cannot accommodate.
We must stand firm!
“Temptation” is a bully we cannot get rid of, and there has been only one Victor, ever, who totally defeated this enemy.
Who better to learn from?
Since the reality of facing temptations throughout our lives begs our best strategic response, we are going to learn from the best. If He was successful, then we should examine His strategies.
How did Jesus Christ stand firm against temptation?
Matthew 4:1-11 teaches us the steps to follow.
Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.
The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written: “‘He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’”
Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’” Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”
Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’ ” Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.
I see 4 steps take place as Jesus successfully stood firm against temptation.
Know the Word
Jesus knew how to respond in the face of great temptation because first of all, He knew the Word. He did not have to go research if that particular temptation was a sin, or if it was a trap, or if it was even in his best interest to consider. He was able to respond IMMEDIATELY to the bait from the devil with Truth to shut it down.
What I learn from this is that the longer I take to swiftly and definitively answer back, the more at risk I am. The more I ponder the possibilities, the more opportunity the enemy has to get a foot in the door of my heart and mind. If he can get me to consider or entertain the notion, the more probable I am to succumb to his enticement.
The biggest difference I see between Eve losing the fight against temptation in Genesis 3 and Jesus overcoming His, is that she hesitated and entertained the notion presented to her. Jesus shut it down immediately with the powerful sword of the Spirit (Ephesians 6:17), the Word of God.
When temptations come, that is not the time to go do research. Already being trained with the sword of the Spirit makes it readily available the moment we need it. It is our most effective offensive weapon for battle. Any successful soldier knows the importance of being alert and ready for battle in a moment’s notice.
Submit to the Word
The time of temptation is not the moment to consider whether we agree with the Word or if we are more favorable toward the temptation. When Jesus answered with the Word, it was because He already agreed with it. It wasn’t up for debate.
If we expect to effectively use our most strategic weapon, we need already to have decided that we will abide by it. We cannot pick and choose from the Bible what we agree with and what we don’t. I learned from my father many years ago this truth, “Gretchen, you either believe all of the Word or none of it because either all of it is true or none of it is”.
The authority of God’s Word was already established in the mind and heart of Jesus. That is what made Him so effective against temptation. We are failing in this war because so many of us are rebelling against the authority of Scripture.
Process with the Word
As life/temptation came at Jesus, He used the Word to process how He viewed it and how He should then respond. The Word of God should be our filter as we perceive what is happening in front of us. It is our grid so to speak.
Life does not give perspective on the Word, but rather the Word gives the correct view of life. So it does not matter how society or cultures change in their scheme of defining right and wrong. The Bible is the eternal and consistent standard for determining righteousness. If we want to win the war, we must not try to manipulate the Word to suit our definition or preference for righteousness.
Respond with the Word
Jesus literally, even verbally, responded with God’s Word to the temptation. It isn’t enough to know the Word, we must actually use the Word to respond to the temptation. Whether inwardly or outwardly, we must speak forth the Word that is so powerful against temptation. Jesus kept repeating, “It is written…..” and then He would fill in the blank with the relevant truth.
How can we stand firm?
If it worked for Him, if the Son of God chooses repeatedly this way to respond to temptations, without altering His game plan, then why would we choose to break from this successful strategy?
These 4 steps were successful for Jesus.
They are proven and reliable.
Chances are if we are losing the war with temptation, it is probably due to our breaking from one or more of these strategies.
I don’t know about you, but I am sick and tired of losing a few too many battles.
Today is the day for a new battle plan!
Onward, Christian soldiers, marching as to war, with the cross of Jesus, going on before…