I knew I shouldn’t do it. I had that icky feeling in my stomach like I was doing something wrong. Yet, I still did it. I gave in.
What about it makes us want to do what we know we shouldn’t do?
Temptation is like the trailer to a movie. It gives you just enough of a preview of sin to make it appealing, showing you all the highlights with none of the possible let down of a disappointing or tragic ending.
Spiritual growth is an ongoing and essential desire of all believers, but without intention, the once brilliant flame of our faith can diminish to a flicker when trials and temptations come our way.
The Bible is clear. It’s not a matter of IF we will have trials but WHEN. I Corinthians 10:12 tells us, “So, if you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall.” (NIV)
Paul is warning us to always be on our guard against roadblocks in our spiritual journey, like temptation. We need to be on the offense, not the defense. Avoidance may serve us in the short term, but temptation is all around us, prowling around like a roaring lion seeking to devour us. So we must do more than avoid it, we must triumph over it!
The good news is we have someone who has gone before us who did just that–triumphed! That someone is Jesus – Our Sinless Savior, Our High Priest. He is able to understand more than anyone because as Scripture says, “(He) has been tempted in every way, just as we are — yet He did not sin.” Hebrews 4:15 (ESV)
Jesus showed us that the best weapon to triumph over the devil’s fiery arrows of temptation is the Word of God.
Let’s enter the scene in Matthew 4:
Jesus has been fasting for 40 days and nights. He is led by the Spirit out into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. In his most vulnerable state, Satan moves in for the attack, doing what he does best: twisting the Truth.
Satan’s first two attempts to make Jesus stumble call Jesus’ identity into question. “If you are the Son of God…” Satan says, then prove it! First, Satan tempts Jesus to make bread from stones–to give into His physical desires. Secondly, he tempts Jesus to throw himself off of a high place and command the angels to catch him, even quoting scripture (although out of context!)–abusing His power. Lastly, Satan tempts Jesus with the lure of all the riches and pleasures that the world has to offer as long as Jesus bows down and worships him.
And how does Jesus triumph over these temptations?
With the sword of the Spirit – the infallible Word of God.
The temptation to feed the desires of the flesh is extinguished with “It is written, ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ ” (Matthew 4:4, NIV)
The temptation to give into manipulating God’s power is extinguished with “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’ ” (Matthew 4:7, NIV)
The temptation to worship the world’s idea of success and fulfillment is extinguished with “Away from me Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’ ” (Matthew 4:10, NIV)
Jesus knew God’s Word, and so must we!
If we want to grow in our faith, if we want to live in freedom and victory, we must be intentional about our time spent with God and His word.
Going back to the words of exhortation from Paul in I Corinthians 10:13b, “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 you can endure it.” (NIV).
We can trust God and His faithfulness. He will always lead us to victory as we depend on Him!
Our struggles with temptation and sin can often make us want to hide, to distance ourselves from others and God because of guilt or shame. But as Hebrews 4:15 invites us, “Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (NIV)
We can triumph over temptation because of what Jesus did for us on the cross. The grace and forgiveness that is ours because of Christ’s ultimate sacrifice gives us the victory over temptation, sin, and even death.
So, how do we intentionally live in spiritual victory?
- Just as Jesus did, we readily remind Satan of the Truth. We have already won! The victory is already ours! We already know the ending to the “movie” of this life, that we will someday get to experience our “happily ever after” in heaven and Satan will be defeated. We walk in the authority that we have in Christ to say to Satan at any time, “Away from me!” You could even write down a recurring temptation on a note card, follow it with a TRUTH from Scripture, and post the card in a prominent place. That way you are ready and prepared to do battle when Satan fires that lie at you.
- Just as Jesus did, we make time to intimately know God and His Word. We get to know His character. We get to know His will. We get to know the promises He has spoken. We lean on His faithfulness. We run to, not away from, His throne of grace and mercy when we are tempted, so He can help us be triumphant. Temptation can feel overwhelming to fight alone. So, join a Bible Study group or life group that can provide support, encouragement, and strength for the battle. Or ask a friend to hold you accountable to being in God’s word each day or memorizing Scripture.
- And just as Jesus did, we stand firm in our true identity. We are children of God. We have been given every spiritual blessing in Christ (Ephesians 1:3). Our identity as a child of God is what seals our victory over trials and temptation. When we know the truth of who we are through the truth of who God is, we can more confidently discern the lies of the Devil.
We have been given everything we need to have spiritual victory, so let’s sharpen those swords – our knowledge of the word of God; put on the full armor of God – to deflect the fiery arrows of the Enemy; and live intentionally in the victory that is already ours in Christ Jesus, our Lord!
Reclaiming Spiritual Victory Together,
As Valerie shared in the blog, knowing God’s word is our number one defense against temptation and other obstacles that hinder our spiritual growth and victory. If you are looking for daily motivation and encouragement to intentionally be in God’s word, Valerie has a writing ministry called Unveiled and FREE Daily Devotions. If you were encouraged by what Valerie shared from God’s word in the blog, consider subscribing by clicking here: https://bit.ly/UnveiledandFREEDevotions. You will receive a devotion Monday through Friday first thing in the morning right in your inbox. Start your day off right!