“I am a Christian. I believe in Jesus as God’s Son and my Savior from sin. I want to live for Him, and obey His teachings. Why, then, do I keep failing?”
What we are dealing with here is temptation. It is the common problem of all human beings, and will be as long as we are still in the body. So, the important thing is to know what to do about temptation.
There are many improper ways of dealing with temptation:
- We can blame God, possibly by asking, “Why are you letting this happen to me?”
- We can blame others: parents, friends, acquaintances. Certainly, Satan does use people to tempt us.
- We can blame circumstances, such as poverty, neglect, abuse
- We can blame Satan— “The Devil MADE me do it.”
But these approaches will accomplish nothing. We need to grasp the truth about temptation as taught in Scripture.
FACT ONE: “God cannot be tempted by evil and He Himself does not tempt anyone.” (James 1:13) God is holy, righteous. He has nothing to do with sin. He is called “the Holy One” no less than thirty times in Isaiah alone. He made us in His image (Genesis 1:27). Thus, He could do nothing to lead us away from that. He will allow our faith to be tested, as He did with Abraham. But He does not make us fall.
FACT TWO: We must look within us to find the source of temptation—our own sinful natures. James 1:14 says, “But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust.”
It is true that Satan is the tempter in our lives, just as he was with Adam and Eve and Jesus. But WE are responsible for the way we respond to Satan’s pressures. We can resist, if we stand firmly on the Word of God, as Jesus did (Mathew 4:1-11).
It is true that there is much in the world today to encourage us to make evil choices and actions: evil people, who “egg us on”; peer pressures; evil activities available to us (the whole range of pornography, for example); evil stimuli bombarding us via the communications media. But the final word is our own evil desires and inner lusts—the lingering “sin nature” which still responds to evil.
FACT THREE: We must not encourage our “sin nature,” for then we will move from thought to act, and will taste of spiritual death if we deliberately choose evil (James 1:15). Temptation itself is not sin. It is yielding, acting on the temptation, that is sin.
As Christians, we must, with the Holy Spirit’s help, continually put down the “old man,” crucifying the sin nature, resisting temptation. James says, “Resist the devil and he will flee from you” (James 4:7).
Practically speaking, HOW do we resist Satan?
- Avoid situations and circumstances that stir up evil desires. Like Joseph, we must run from temptation (Genesis 39:7-12).
- Answer temptation with God’s Word, as Jesus did. Psalm 1:2 says of the “blessed man”: “But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night.”
- Attempt to stay close to Jesus, who understands our temptations and has won the victory over sin for us. A personal relationship with Jesus is the key to power and peace in life.
- Affirm the hope and assurance given in 1 Corinthians 10:13: “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able [to stand]; but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, that you may be able to endure it.”
With an understanding of today’s cultural issues, Christian theology and apologetics, dedicated John Ankerberg staff writers work together with internal and external scholars to provide real answers to the real questions asked by those wanting to know the truth about Jesus, the Bible and the Christian faith.
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