Overcoming Temptation!

Fresh Manna
by Pastor Tim Burt

Think of the word temptation. What comes to mind? What temptations, small and large have you had to deal with in your Christian walk? Are there any temptations you are currently dealing with that you know you need to rid your life of? Are there any that you’ve buried because you’ve been so ineffective at dealing with that you didn’t want to think about them anymore?

Generally, temptations are things we crave or lust after that we know we shouldn’t participate in. Everyone has temptations and they are designed by Satan to rob from us. They attempt to rob us of walking upright with God. They try to rob us of our integrity, moral fortitude , purity, honesty, and our confidence in God’s loving us. The Apostle Peter found that out at the time of Jesus’ greatest persecution. 

Jesus had warned Peter about a temptation that was soon to come.  He said, “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Matthew 26:41 NIV) The temptation Peter crashed and failed at was to NOT admit he knew and followed Jesus when asked by those that hated Jesus.

When Jesus warned Peter of this temptation to come, Peter had the opportunity to respond reverentially—to listen to Jesus and respond affirmatively and then pray for God to strengthen him. Instead, Peter responded flippantly like most of us would. He said “Lord, even if everyone else betrays you, I never will.” Peter was confident in his own willpower and love for the Lord. That’s the mistake every Christian learns the hard way. As passionate as we may seem in the moment, the strength of our own willpower will most often fail us. We cannot survive without praying for God’s grace to strengthen us! It is the missing piece to overcoming temptation!

Proverbs 14:26 NKJV says, “In the (reverential) fear of the Lord there is strong confidence…” Strong confidence in our own willpower is nothing more than pride!  Taking the Lord at His Word and putting faith in His directives more than confidence in our own willpower or ability is the birthplace of real confidence. Therefore, when the Lord says to watch and pray so that we will not fall into temptation, He is saying that praying for His grace to overcome is what will help us be spiritually sensitive enough to catch moments of temptation, and in the moment, pause to lean on the grace of God. As I’ve said many times before, grace is God’s supernatural help and strength to resist temptation and to help you do anything He’s asked you to do. His empowering grace is the source of strength from within to obey God. Once you fully comprehend that your spirit is willing but your own willpower is weak and flawed, then you begin to instead, lean in the moment, upon the Lord’s grace through prayer.

The Holy Spirit tries to help us in these areas but too often, we just blow by them. We do because we are not praying and therefore, not sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s alerting and trying to help us. We get cold to His voice and leading. We then easily yield to those simple temptations while making jokes and excuses about them to help us feel better in the moment. Sensitivity to the Holy Spirit is where it begins and prayer will get us there. That’s what Jesus wanted Peter to know. It’s there we’ll begin to find the strength to say yes to what we should and no to what we shouldn’t.

Most temptations we face, we’ve mentally reduced in our mind to seemingly small and inconsequential. When we do that, we succumb to them over and over pretending that they don’t really hurt us. But they do! And they keep us from who we’d love to become deep in our heart. And then we lose faith that we’ll ever become that person we long to be in God. Proverbs 13:12 (TLB) says, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick; but when dreams come true at last, there is life and joy.”  Don’t be sad over your life and who you are! Be glad that you can become who God has called you to become. Remember, 1 Corinthians 10:13 (NLT2) says, The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, He will show you a way out so that you can endure.” God’s way out is praying for His grace in the moment and receiving it within!  Learning to live like this will strengthen you beyond imagination. It will transform your life!

For the past 40 years I’ve been a part of discipleship group. In that group we talk about everything—including temptations we face. We share scriptures. We encourage each other. We pray together and draw strength from the transparency that in itself is a from of accountability. These are all tools of the grace of God. In those times where I am alone and temptation comes, I just pause, let the Lord remind me I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me, and then draw on His grace, resist what I should, and purposely make better choices.

You gain strength and momentum when you practice resisting the devil and temptation and do things God’s way. And you feel so much better for doing so!

The grace of God, not my own willpower is the only place that I have strong confidence—confidence in His ability and strength working in me through prayer! And I pray that it is the same for you, or if not, you’ll make that change!

Hebrews 4:16 (NIV) “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

In His love,
Pastor Tim Burt

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