Overcoming temptation

Matthew 26:41 NIV

Jesus told His disciples, ‘Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.’ Jesus didn’t doubt the disciples’ love for Him or their willingness to serve Him, but He knew they couldn’t do it in their own strength. Without the power of the Holy Spirit within us, we’re not able to overcome the temptations that come our way. We’ll never be exempt from temptation. In fact, becoming a Christian increases the frequency, variety, and intensity of the temptations we face, because the enemy doesn’t give up easily. But we don’t have to ‘fall into’ temptation. The moment it comes along, and before we have time to give in to it, we need to turn to God’s grace. Jesus said, ‘Watch and pray.’ And that’s exactly what we need to do too. We need to be alert so that we’re aware of the areas of our lives where we’re likely to be tempted, and we need to pray for the strength to overcome any temptation we’re facing. If we’ve given in to temptation before, we don’t need to let shame overtake our lives. We can confess it to God, ask for His forgiveness, and then strengthen ourselves so that we avoid giving in to temptation again. When Jesus said these words to the disciples, they had repeatedly given in to the temptation to sleep when Jesus needed them to stay awake and keep watch. Jesus didn’t disown or condemn the disciples, instead He encouraged them and gave them advice. Let’s not write ourselves off just because we’ve given in to temptation before. Let’s allow God to remove our shame and strengthen us ready to face future temptations.

Acts 18-19; Luke 9:37-45; Ps 42:6-11; Prov 16:17-19

The need for repentance

2 Corinthians 7:10 NKJV

There’s a difference between confessing your sin and repenting of it. In Scripture, the word “repentance” means “to turn away from sin.” By confessing your sin you acknowledge what you have done; by repenting you turn away from it. And the good news is that there’s no limit to God’s forgiveness. The moment you ask for it, you receive it. However, God doesn’t intend you to keep repeating your sinful patterns over and over again. That’s where “godly sorrow” comes in. Paul writes, “You sorrowed in a godly manner: What diligence it produced in you” (v. 11 NKJV). The purpose of godly sorrow is to make you more diligent when it comes to changing behavior. When you allow sin into your life, you violate your core of righteousness. “For [God]…made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him” (2 Corinthians 5:21). At the point of salvation God literally made you “the righteousness of God in Christ.” You’re a regenerated spirit living in an unregenerated body, and when you permit sin into your life, it violates the very core of who you are! And that will cause you godly sorrow, leading to repentance and turning away from sin. Don’t settle for saying, “This is a habit I can’t break. But it’s okay because God will forgive me.” Yes, He will forgive you, but He doesn’t want you to settle for a cycle of sin, repentance, forgiveness, and then repeating the same sin. He wants you to be strong and effective in His service. That’s why He’s calling you to a higher level.

Soul food: Num 32:25-33:56; Mark 9:14-29; Ps 18:1-29; Prov 11:19-21


Luke 22:40 NIV

Deep inside, we all know the areas of our lives where we’re most often tempted and fail. And if we repeatedly fall into the same temptations, we can begin to think: ‘What’s the point in asking God for forgiveness? I’m just going to repeat the same sins and have to go back to Him again.’ But God’s forgiveness doesn’t run out when we’ve sinned a certain number of times. When we go to Him with a humble and sorry heart, He loves to forgive us. We can also break the cycle of temptation we find ourselves stuck in. Jesus told His disciples, ‘Pray that you will not fall into temptation’. We can pray before the temptation comes and ask for the strength we need to handle the situation when it arises. When we pray, God strengthens us so that we can overcome the things that are trapping us. We don’t have to worry that God will be angry with us for being tempted; we can approach Him for the help we need. Paul said: ‘Let us…approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need’ (Hebrews 4:16 NIV). Tempting situations can come up regularly, so we need to make sure we’re setting aside time to pray. It can be easy to fill our spare time with things like TV and social media, but it’s far more worthwhile to use that time to pray into the situations we’re facing and about the parts of our lives where we feel weak and vulnerable to temptation. If we keep facing temptation, we need to avoid becoming frustrated at ourselves and remember God’s grace to forgive us. Then we need to rely on His help to overcome our temptation.

Isa 30-33; Matt 11:20-30; Ps 107:23-32; Prov 3:25-26

Pray before temptation comes

Luke 22:40 NIV

You can put on your best game face in an attempt to convince others you’re doing better than you are, but deep inside you know the areas where you’re most often tempted and fail. In fact, if you are gut-level honest, chances are you keep a mental scorecard. Others may give you an A or B on your report card, but you give yourself a failing grade. And when that happens often enough, you reach the place where you start thinking, “What’s the point in asking God for forgiveness? I’m just going to repeat the same sins over and over and have to go back to Him again.” There’s a solution. Jesus told His disciples, “Pray that you will not fall into temptation” (See Matthew 26:41). In other words, pray before the temptation comes and you’ll be strengthened and fortified to handle it. “But I have prayed!” you reply. Then increase the dosage and pray more! Before Jesus calmed the storm on Galilee, He spent the whole night in prayer. Turn off your TV, your computer, your iPhone, and any other outside connections, and spend time with God. What did the old-timers mean when they talked about “praying through”? Simply this: You can reach a point in prayer where you “know” God has given you the strength you need and victory is assured. Paul said, “Let us…approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Hebrews 4:16 NIV). What do you need when you keep failing? God’s grace to forgive you – and His help to overcome temptation. So pray before temptation comes, and God will make you an overcomer.

Soul food: Isa 30-33; Matt 11:20-30; Ps 107:23-32; Prov 3:25-26

Your forgiveness is guaranteed

1 John 1:9 AMPC

In spite of our best intentions and efforts, we all “fall short” of God’s requirements (Romans 3:23 NKJV). So what’s the answer? “If we say we have no sin [refusing to admit that we are sinners], we delude and lead ourselves astray, and the Truth [which the Gospel presents] is not in us [does not dwell in our hearts]. If we [freely] admit that we have sinned and confess our sins, He is faithful and just (true to His own nature and promises) and will forgive our sins [dismiss our lawlessness] and [continuously] cleanse us from all unrighteousness [everything not in conformity to His will in purpose, thought, and action]” (1 John 1:8-9 AMPC). When it comes to God’s forgiveness, knowing is better than feeling. Here’s how God’s forgiveness works: Consciousness of sin leads to conviction of sin, and conviction of sin leads to confession of sin, and confession of sin leads to cleansing of sin, and cleansing of sin leads to confidence before God (See 1 John 3:21-22). You say, “I don’t feel worthy of God’s forgiveness.” You will never be worthy of it! God’s forgiveness is not based on your worthiness, but on Christ’s! Furthermore, God is not like your parents; He doesn’t insist you squirm and be miserable for a few days so that you will “learn your lesson” before He forgives you. That would mean you play a part in earning His forgiveness. It’s by grace, and grace alone (See Ephesians 2:8-9)! “Grace” means “undeserved favour.” So when God forgives you, honor Him by forgiving yourself and moving on.

Soul food: Isa 26-29; Matt 11:10-19; Ps 107:17-22; Prov 3:21-24