Facing Temptation Part IV
Scripture: James 1:12-14
In our message “Facing Temptation (Part 3), published in the May issue of God’s Revivalist, we studied the last three steps in the temptation process and then began our study on “How To Combat Temptation Successfully.”
Remember that Step One in doing this was “Put on the Lord Jesus Christ and make no provisions to gratify the desires of the flesh outside the will of God” (Romans 13:14).
In this message we will conclude this series by suggesting several more tactics for successfully combating temptation.
Step Two. Learn to Love Biblical Light (John 3:21; 1 John 1:7)
Christians must be taught from Scripture what is sinful and what is pleasing to God. Paul, writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, had to tell the Corinthian Christians to stop arguing and bickering among themselves. Such behavior is divisive, contentious, and wrong (1 Corinthians 1:10-11).
Further, he had to rebuke their spiritual pride, their lack of humility, and their abuse of spiritual gifts (1 Corinthians 12-14). He had to tell them to stop suing fellow Christians (1 Corinthians 6:1-7).
He had to tell both the Corinthian and the Thessalonian Christians that sexual relationships outside the bond of marriage is forbidden by God (1 Corinthians 6:18-19; 1 Thessalonians 4:3-8; 1 Peter 1:13-16).
Further, Paul had to tell the Ephesians that Christians must not lie, steal, or express unChristlike anger. They must stop listening to and telling coarse, sensual jokes, and they had to stop any behavior that was unkind to others (Ephesians 4:17-32; 5:1-9).
Light is Biblical truth.
The need to teach new Christians that they are to stop lying, stop stealing, stop all immoral behavior, stop cursing, stop getting drunk, and that they must be kind and loving to all others may be a surprise to biblically enlightened people.
However, one must remember that people who have been immersed in an ungodly culture do not intuitively know God’s standards for holy behavior.
Christians must be taught the Bible.
What is learned from the Bible is called “light.” The Apostle John tells us that a Christian must walk in all the light he receives if he wishes to maintain fellowship with God and stay cleansed from all sin (1 John 1:7).
Stop all known sin.
There is no Biblical list of sins that God guarantees to remove automatically from a person upon his or her conversion. However, God does provide abundant grace to enable Christians to walk in whatever light they do have.
On the other hand, God does give a list of sins that a Christian cannot knowingly do and be saved. We read in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10:
“Do you not know that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God?
Do not be deceived;
neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, shall inherit the kingdom of God.”
Again Paul writes in Galatians 5:19-21,
“Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are:
immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you just as I have forewarned you that those who practice such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.”
Walk in the light!
God expects every Christian to walk in all the light he receives from Scripture (1 John 1:7). The Corinthian Christians were walking in all the light they had. This is why Paul can address them as “saints” and “those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus” (1 Corinthians 1:2). They were not knowingly doing wrong. They were simply acting as their culture had taught them to act.
Therefore, they needed more light from God and that is the reason Paul wrote to them. And Paul expected his readers to walk in the new light he gave them. Are you walking in all the light God has given you?
Whenever a Christian becomes aware that there is something about his attitude, his speech, his interpersonal relationships, or some other aspect of his life that is not in harmony with either a command or a precept of Scripture, he must submit to God and walk in the new light God gives him.
A Christian must commit himself to do whatever it takes to obey God fully and to change whatever needs changing in his life.
Step Three. Flee Youthful Passions and Pursue Righteousness, Faith, Love, and Peace, Along With Those Who Call on the Lord from a Pure Heart (2 Timothy 2:22).
Paul tells us that everyone who claims to be a Christian must depart from iniquity (2 Timothy 2:19). Further, if a Christian wishes to be a vessel of honor, qualified for the Master’s use, he must be separated from anything that would defile him (2 Timothy 2:21).
And in order to depart from iniquity, and be separated from that which defiles, it is sometimes necessary to do more than simply “resist the devil” and expect him to flee from us (James 4:7). Instead, we must flee from some forms of temptation.
In addition to fleeing from some forms of temptation, there are also things a Christian must pursue. We are to “pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart” (2 Timothy 2:22).
Be careful about the people you continue to have as your friends, especially if they weaken you spiritually. Seek to develop new friends who share the same spiritual goals that you have and who value the importance of having a pure heart.
Step Four. Learn the Importance of Putting on and Keeping on the Whole Armor of God.
Paul issues a warning about the reality of spiritual warfare and calls every Christian to arms. He says,
“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 wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:10-12).
Peter warns, “Be sober, be vigilant, because your adversary, the devil, as a roaring lion, walks about, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8). Satan is the implacable foe of every Christian. He is personal, aggressive, intelligent, and cunning. He is termed “the strong man” (Luke 11:21), who has his strongholds (2 Corinthians 10:4), and his own army (Ephesians 6:12).
In light of these facts, it would be absolute foolishness to underestimate or ignore the power of the devil. Christians are to take the warnings about him seriously. Every Christian is to be alert, informed, and ready for both defensive and aggressive warfare.
There is no place for the spiritual pacifist. Christians are engaged continually in warfare against the world, the flesh, and the devil. No one is exempt from the conflict. We either fight against temptation and sin, or we become captives of the enemy.
There is no neutral ground.
This is why Paul exhorts us to “fight the good fight of faith” (1 Timothy 6:12), and to endure hardship “as a good soldier of Jesus Christ” (2 Timothy 2:3).
Learn who is the enemy.
Paul makes it clear who is and who is not our enemy. People and circumstances are not the enemy but are only tools that the enemy uses. Our enemies are the demonic forces of hell which are categorized as principalities, powers, rulers of the darkness of this world, and spiritual wickedness in high places (Ephesians 6:12).
Behind visible sinfulness, behind all human conflicts and problems, lies the invisible influence and work of our true enemy, Satan himself, who is called the “prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now working in the lives of sinners” (Ephesians 2:2).
Be strong in the Lord.
Every Christian must learn how to be “strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might” (Ephesians 6:10). To be strong, a Christian must maintain a close personal relationship with God, for it is only as we remain “in the Lord,” that we have protection from Satanic attack.
We strengthen our relationship with God through daily prayer, Bible-reading, faith, and obedience to His Word. Through these sources we derive the strength necessary for victorious spiritual warfare. As we stay strong in the Lord, we have access to “the power of his might.”
Paul explains in Ephesians 1:19-20 that he is speaking of resurrection power. Such power was demonstrated “in Christ, when God raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places.”
This mighty resurrection power is available to every Christian for daily victory over temptation and sin!
Memorize verses that promise victory to Christians over the power of temptation. Luke 1:37 reminds us that with God nothing is impossible.
Romans 8:32 promises that “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all,” will “with Him freely give us all things.” Whatever you need to have victory over temptation God promises to provide.
Luke 10:19 says, “Behold, I give unto you power…over all the power of the enemy and nothing shall by any means hurt you.”
Remember always that no Christian needs to be defeated by temptation!
Dr. Allan P. Brown teaches such courses as Christian Beliefs, Doctrine of Holiness, Wisdom Literature, Hebrew, Preaching Holiness, Romans and Galatians, and Letters to the Hebrews.
He has been on faculty at GBSC since 1996 and is the author of several books and articles.
Dr. Brown also speaks at churches, camp meetings, revivals and more.