Sin infects everything. This is an undeniable truth reinforced by our experience, news headlines, and the Bible. Romans 3:23 states “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”.
I know I’m not perfect. I’ve lied, I’ve been angry, I’ve been selfish and many other things. It’s not just hard to live a perfect life - it’s impossible! So should I always just give in? Why try when I know I’m going to fall? Well, Jesus tells us in John 14:15 “If you love me, keep my commandments”. Since I’ve been saved by Jesus Christ, I should follow his desires rather than my own. I should be loving his will more than my own, since my will leads to sin.
Additionally, in 2 Corinthians 5:17, it says “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new has come!”. When I’m born, I’m born of a sinful nature. When I’m saved by Christ, I’m no longer defined by that sinful nature and have Christ living within me. Christ is in me, yet temptation still taunts me and sometimes wins over me.
So, when temptation comes our way, how can we resist?
The Promise of Escape
Let’s start with a promise from God. 1 Corinthians 10:13 says,
“No temptation has overtaken such as is common to man, and God is faithful and will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able and will provide a way of escape that you will be able to endure it.”
No matter what temptation comes our way, we can escape it.
This word escape, however, implies running away. Escape is usually used when fleeing or attempting to leave an undesirable place. Resisting temptation isn’t usually about fighting the temptation, it’s about running away from it. If someone angers you, whether it’s a spouse who didn’t clean up their mess or a sibling who stole your toy, how effective is thinking “don’t be angry”? When we try to fight the anger by focusing on not being angry, what are we still focusing on? The fact we are angry! Rick Warren in his book, Purpose Driven Life, explains “Every time you try to block a thought out of your mind, you drive it deeper into your memory. By resisting it, you actually reinforce it.” By resisting anger, laziness, selfishness or other temptations, you’re still thinking about those things and rooting it deeper into thought.
So if we can’t fight it, how do we run from it? Sometimes, it can be a physical action. Leave the room where you and your friend are arguing. Turn off the TV before a bad movie. Going upstairs and reading a book or going out with friends instead of being alone surfing the web. Shutting off what’s causing the temptation can help get it off our mind.
The second part is focusing on replacing temptations with healthier thoughts.
How Jesus Dealt with Temptation
Let’s look at the example of Jesus. In Luke 4, Jesus’ temptation by the devil takes place. He wanders the wilderness for 40 days and ends up being very hungry. So when Satan says “If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread”, Jesus was very hungry. Instead of fighting that temptation and saying “I don’t need food right now” or something similar, he instead proclaims the word of God: “Man shall not live by bread alone”. Jesus was obviously very hungry after 40 days, but his thoughts were rooted in the word of God which allowed him to endure.
If Jesus needs the word of God to flee from sin, we need it all the more! Resisting the Devil involves running and fighting back with Scripture. The Word is Truth, and that truth never wavers. Know God’s promises: he will never leave you, forsake you, or leave you to temptation.
Each of us have only had limited years of life on Earth, but Satan has had millenniums of experience deceiving and twisting truths. If we try to fight back against one who has such expertise, we probably won’t win. But if we run away and run back to the one who can, and will ultimately defeat him, that’s the safest place we can be.
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Luke is currently a Junior at Grand Valley State University where he is studying Computer Science with a minor in mathematics. He loves being with friends at college but loves being home with his family and girlfriend too. He doesn’t know what’s going to happen in the future but is excited to see God move and work in his life.