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Categorized | From the Pulpit

Is temptation sin?

Pastor Jim Howard, Senior Pastor

First Baptist Church of Cedar Springs

233 S. Main St, Cedar Springs

 

We have all been there. Everyone has had to deal with the thoughts, inclinations, and desire to do something that we know to be wrong. Is that sin? Paul told the Corinthian believers that “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it” (1 Cor. 10:13 ESV). Everyone who has ever walked the face of this earth has had to deal with temptation in one form or another. Even Christ endured temptation, yet without sin. It is not a sin to be tempted, but it is sin to yield to the temptation!

The Bible doesn’t tell us that we will be free from the tentacles of temptation, but it does encourage us to fight and/or flee from it. Warren Wiersbe shared an illustration that I’ve never forgotten. No matter how fierce the battle or hot the conflict, our God who loves us, has His hand on the thermostat and knows exactly how much heat we can take. And He knows that we can take a whole lot more than we think we can. God has promised us that He will either provide the means to escape the temptation or give us the ability to endure through it!

Below are eight biblical steps to finding victory over temptation.

RESIDE: “For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted” (Heb. 2:18 NKJV). This reflects the necessity to remain close to the One Who knows what we’re going through, and He’s the only One who can deliver us—so stay close to Him!

REJOICE: “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds” (Jms. 1:2 NIV). The way to victory is to rejoice and give thanks (Rom. 5:3). I will be the first to admit that this is easier said than done. Clearly we are a people of faith, and until I can do it with my whole heart, I will do it by faith!

REMAIN: “Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him” (Jms. 1:12 ESV). Enduring through the test may be God’s plan for me. Remaining spiritually consistent throughout and learning from the experience without grumbling will help keep me from falling into the temptation.

REQUEST:  Before we encounter the test, we ought to be asking Him to prepare us for the challenges that will come. “And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one”  (Mt. 6:13 NKJV) and again in Mt. 26:41 (ESV), “Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

RETREAT: Some temptations we are told to flee from. “Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry” (1 Cor. 10:14 ESV). “So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart” (2 Tim. 2:22 ESV). No negotiating, run for your life! We used to use fly paper in our dairy barns as I was growing up.  I’ve often thought of temptation as the fly who flies round and round where his friends have landed…getting closer and closer until he decides to land…and you know the rest of the story!

REMOVE: “But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts” (Rom. 13:14 NKJV). Remove those things from your path that set you up for failure! The things you read, watch, where you go. What we nurture in our lives is what will be the strongest!

REPLACE: “Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm” (Prov. 13:20 ESV). The idea here is to replace those things that are bad influences with those that are good. I used to tell my youth group teens years ago, choose your friends wisely, for you will be identified with them!

REFUSE: “All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any” (1 Cor. 6:12 ESV). “I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but not everything is constructive (1 Cor. 10:23 NIV). I have many choices that I can make in life. It’s time to realize that the right choice will often be the hardest choice because it will mean not taking the low road, but rather the high road. Don’t settle for mediocrity in your spiritual life!

Temptation need not own you; you can have the victory. Yield yourself today to Christ and follow His instructions. He doesn’t promise to remove the tests, but He does assure us that He’ll walk with us through them and give us the victory!

 

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