A Springboard for You

For a better life and a better eternity

What I Have Learned About Preparing for Temptation: Part 4

 

Over the past two weeks, we have learned several activities and attitudes to prepare us for temptation:

 

  1. Repentance
  2. Confession
  3. Bible Study
  4. Prayer
  5. Poverty of Spirit

 

      You might be tempted to believe we are ready to face any temptation. (Then again, you might not, after all, I am writing another article.) There is one more preparation we need to make and it is illustrated in Acts 4:23.

      Earlier in the chapter, Peter and John were arrested and taken before the rulers, elders, scribes, High Priest and many of the high-priestly family (Acts 4:5-6). The council charged the two apostles not to speak in Jesus’ name and then threatened them (Acts 4:18, 21). I’m sure these threats included imprisonment and physical harm. This is what we call temptation.

      Then we read Acts 4:23. “When they were released, they went to their friends…” (ESV). They didn’t have to develop friends. They didn’t conduct a survey to see if anyone might be on their side. They already had friends on whom they could rely. They had already developed these relationships.

      In order to prepare for temptation, we need to develop strong relationships with other Christians. If we wait until we face the temptation and then scan about for someone to help, it will be too late. Let’s face it, we are only comfortable making those kinds of calls and having those kinds of conversations when we have already developed a good, friendly, supportive relationship with someone.

      I know I have often failed in this step of preparation and I’ve paid for it. The failure sometimes comes with good intentions. We believe we will simply rely on God to overcome temptation, but doing so forgets that God works through His children. Ephesians 3:20 reminds us God does great things by His power working in believers. The reality is, we are not really relying on God if we are not relying on God’s children. Further, we won’t rely on God’s children in our moment of need if we haven’t already developed a good relationship with them.

      Ask this question. “If I was tempted to ___________ this week, who would I call to talk it over, pray and gain support to do the right thing?” If you’ve got several in mind, that’s great. Make sure you keep working on those relationships. If you don’t, stop everything and figure out some relationships you can develop to be ready.

      

Wrapping Up the Series

Remember, Satan is a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour. He wants to devour you. Use these tools to help you prepare for temptation:

  1. Repentance
  2. Confession
  3. Bible Study
  4. Prayer
  5. Poverty of Spirit
  6. Relationships
Don’t wait. Satan won’t. Temptation is coming and you need to be prepared.
ELC

 

September 12, 2008 Posted by | Christian living, Overcoming Sin, Preparing for Temptation, Relationships | , , , , , | Leave a comment

What I Have Learned about Preparing for Temptation: Part 3

Whether we like it or not, temptation is coming. Maybe the past few days have seemed kind of lax for you and you are starting to feel comfortable, like you have this overcoming temptation thing down. Trust me, as soon as you get settled in that, Satan will pound you. He is just looking for a more opportune time (cf. Luke 4:13).

We have already learned several activities that prepare for temptation:

1. Repentance

2. Confession

3. Bible Study

4. Prayer

However, none of this will get us fully ready to face temptation if we do not have poverty of spirit.

Matthew 5:3 says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (ESV). The word translated “poor” in this text (ptochos) is extreme. It doesn’t mean, “Hey, buddy, can you spare a dime? I need a boost.” It means, “If I don’t get help, I’ll starve.” Thus, being poor in spirit is the spiritual equivalent of Lazarus in Luke 16:19-21.

Poverty of spirit recognizes I have nothing to offer God. I can’t pay for my forgiveness. I can’t even work my forgiveness off by being good enough for the rest of my life. I have no bartering power. The reason I have no bartering power is because I have no power at all.

So long as we think we are somehow powerful enough to face temptation with only a little help now and then, we will inevitably fall. That is the heart of I Corinthians 10:12, “Therefore let anyone who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall” (ESV). If we think we are standing on our own legs we won’t make it. Only when we recognize we walk on legs God has given us can we overcome the temptation. Because only then will we let God fight the battle and rely on the strength He gives.

Paul demonstrated this in II Corinthians 12:7-10. When he thought he was strong, he was weak. But when he realized how weak he was, then he relied on God and then he was strong because of God. As Ephesians 3:20 says, God is able to do far more abundantly than we ask or think by the power working within us. Philippians 2:12-13 explains we can work out our salvation with fear and trembling because God is at work within us.

Rest assured, Satan will tempt you greater than you can handle by yourself. But he cannot tempt you greater than your strength when you are relying on God. Why not just pick up your poverty of spirit and rely on God? Do it now. Don’t wait until your are faced with temptation. That will be too late. Recognize your poverty now and rely on God now.

September 8, 2008 Posted by | Christian living, Overcoming Sin, Preparing for Temptation | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What I Have Learned about Preparing for Temptation: Part 2

Satan is vicious. He roams like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour (I Peter 5:8). Just like we wouldn’t go on a safari in lion infested territory without preparation, we need to prepare to face Satan’s attacks. We have already learned we begin with Repentance and Confession. In this post, we need to see the place of Bible Study and Prayer.

We all know Psalm 119:11. “I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you” (ESV). Clearly, if we want to avoid sin, we must spend time in Bible Study. We do this to know what sin is. We can’t even accomplish the Confession we have already discussed if we do not learn the mind of God through His revelation (cf. I Corinthians 2:11-12). Consider Matthew 4:1-11. Even Jesus overcame sin because of what was written. He knew what was sin and He knew how to respond when Satan attacked because He had stored up God’s word in His heart.

We also need to study God’s word to learn Satan’s attacks. II Corinthians 2:11 speaks of knowing Satan’s designs so we won’t be outwitted by him. From Eve to Peter, through Bible study we see how Satan tempted others. Learning how he attacks prepares us and helps us respond well.

At the same time, we need to develop a healthy habit of Prayer. No doubt, we will need to pray in the moment of temptation. The only way to be strong enough to pray in the moment of temptation is if we have developed a strong habit of prayer when we weren’t being tempted.

Consider the example of Daniel in Daniel 6:10. Daniel was able to keep praying when it was illegal because it was what he had done previously. Prayer was his ingrained response.

We must remember our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against powers too great for us (cf. Ephesians 6:10-13). We can’t win this battle. But God can. Therefore, we need to develop a healthy relationship with God through prayer. As Ephesians 3:20 says, God can do far more abundantly than we ask by the power working through us. However, this means we have to ask.

Further, as the model prayer demonstrates in Matthew 6:13, God is able to keep us from and deliver us through temptation. How many temptations might we avoid in our lives if we simply make this prayer a habit even when we aren’t being tempted?

What is your plan for study and prayer this week? Schedule it out and then make sure to fit it in. Don’t do this to check it off your Christian living list, but because this is what works. This is what will help you overcome those temptations.

May God richly bless you as you draw closer to Him.
More importantly, may you richly bless God. 

August 26, 2008 Posted by | Christian living, Overcoming Sin, Preparing for Temptation | , , , , , | Leave a comment

What I’ve Learned about Preparing for Temptation: Part 1

 

“I can overcome anything except temptation.” An overly used one-liner and yet overly used because it is overly true. It certainly has been overly true in my life. With that in mind, I want to share with you what helps me face the daily battle, what helps me prepare for Satan’s attacks. This is the first part in what looks like will be a four part series on how to prepare for temptation. Of course, who knows what I might learn over the next several days that gets added in. I hope it helps.

 

 

Preparing for Temptation: Part 1

Regrettably, the “Just Say No” tactic that sounds so good in the safety of our assemblies doesn’t always hold water when we are face to face with Satan’s weapons on the battlefield. We need some real help to overcome temptation. What should we do? Like any battle, without preparation, we will fall. There are several things we must do to prepare; in this article, I want to share two—Repentance and Confession.

The first thing we have to do is Repent. II Corinthians 7:10 says, “For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret…” (ESV). We have already sinned (Romans 3:23). This isn’t about getting perfect people to stay perfect, but helping sinful people avoid future sin. Without repentance, the battle is already lost.

Repentance is a change of mind leading to a change of action. If we still think some sin is alright, not that bad, not a big deal, a social faux pas, a mistake or any other mitigated concept, change of action will not take place. Only when we mourn our actions and change our minds will we overcome temptation. As long as I believe there’s not really anything wrong with having bitterness, wrath or clamor toward my wife and kids, I will not stop. Oh, I may white-knuckle it for a while to please other people, but it will always creep back in. I must rethink my sins and see how bad they really are.

At the same time, I also need to Confess. I John 1:9 says if we confess our sins, God will forgive us. Forgiveness is a prerequisite to salvation, but that is not why I bring it up. Confession literally means to say the same thing as. In spiritual things, it means to say the same thing as God about something. Thus, confessing my sins to God is not merely admitting I sinned. Confessing means verbalizing exactly what God thinks about the sin.

If I want to overcome sin in the future, I have to get God’s view of something entrenched in my head. I have to see it the way God sees it. I have to speak about it the way God speaks about it. When I confess my sins to God, I’m agreeing with Him. I am communing with His mind. I am connecting with His thoughts and ways. The point is not that we have to hit a checklist of confession for each sin to be saved. The point is working through the exercise of seeing what God sees and thinking like God thinks is necessary if I want to live God’s way.

If I don’t repent of and confess my sins, I won’t make it when the temptation hits again. So let’s start here. Be honest. What are your sins? What does God say about them? What are you going to say about them? Feel free to write out the list and work through them one by one. God will help. God will forgive. You will grow.

May God richly bless you as you draw closer to Him.
More importantly, may you richly bless God.

August 23, 2008 Posted by | Christian living, Overcoming Sin, Preparing for Temptation | , , , , , , | Leave a comment