Ask Donnell - How Do I Respond To Strong Temptation?

Ask Donnell -  How Do I Respond To Strong Temptation?

We received several questions from Josh. This is the first;

"What do I do when the devil tempts me with something that is really hard to overcome?"

Josh, thanks for the honest question. I'll give you an honest answer. The devil is not going to tempt you with anything that's easy to overcome. He's way too smart for that. He'll always hit you where and when you're weak. Therefore, you can expect to consistently face temptation that's really hard to overcome.

James 1:12-15(NKJV) - Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.

A temptation is not entirely something the enemy creates. It's also not entirely external to you. As the scripture says, it's actually the result of the enemy exploiting a desire that's already in your heart. You can only be enticed by something if you already have a desire in your heart for it. As a result, the problem with temptation is not gone if you can eliminate the external portion of the temptation. As long as that desire remains in your heart you can be enticed again.

I'll give you a simple illustration. People who think addiction is entirely physical think that as long as you separate the person from the addiction you have set the person free. However, the addiction is not just on the outside. It's directly connected to a stronghold in the person's mind and heart. As a result, the person can stay clean for a long period of time but if the stronghold is not dealt with the person is really still in bondage. The next time the person is given free access to the object of desire that temptation will rise again.

1 Corinthians 10:12-13 (NLT) - If you think you are standing strong, be careful not to fall. 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.

Everybody is tempted and anybody can fall. That's why we all have to be careful. Whether you win or lose when you're tempted has much less to do with what you do when you're tempted and much more to do with what you did before you were tempted. You should look at temptation like you look at a test. Your preparation for the test is much more important than what you do during the test. Therefore, the devil can't take all the credit for someone giving into temptation. He only exploits desires that are already in the person.

Even though it's true that what you do during the test is what really matters in the end, your options during the test are limited by your preparation for the test. If you are well prepared you have a chance to pass the test. Once you're in the test you can rely on your preparation and do exactly what you know so you can pass the test. On the other hand, if you are not prepared for the test you fail the test before you even start. In that case, it doesn't really matter what you do during the test unless you plan to cheat. Even though both are very important, since execution depends on preparation, preparation is more important. You can't execute what you didn't prepare.

This is where the devil really traps many Christians. We do not prepare for temptation ahead of time and we think that we can just figure it out in the middle of the temptation. Even though that's possible it's not very probable. In the natural, even though it's possible to pass one exam after not studying it's impossible to pass every exam in your life if you never study. At some point, you're going to fail.

Hence the saying; "If you fail to prepare, prepare to fail." Preparation does not guarantee success but a lack of preparation guarantees failure. When you're prepared and face temptation you'll be able to decipher the way of escape that God has already laid out for you. Once you find the way out of the temptation you'll have the guts to take it.

Ask Donnell -  How Do I Respond To Strong Temptation?

How Do You Prepare For Temptation?

Hebrews 4:14-16(NKJV) - Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Jesus was tempted just like the rest of us and did not sin. Why? He was prepared. How did He do it and what advice did He leave for us so that we could follow in His footsteps?

1) Hide The Word of God In Your Heart!

Psalm 119:11(NKJV) - Your word I have hidden in my heart, That I might not sin against You.

The Word of God in your heart is directly proportional to your ability to resist temptation. One of the first signs that I'm running low on God's Word in my heart is my lack of resistance to temptation. This is one of the most powerful scriptures to have in your knowledge base. You cannot store God's Word in your heart in order to resist a certain temptation in the middle of the temptation. You have to do it before.

Pay close attention to where The Word of God needs to be for you to be able to resist sin. It needs to be in your heart. Why your heart? Your heart is where your desires are. If you put The Word of God in your mind only you will know what's right and wrong but that doesn't mean you'll want to do what's right. The Pharisees had God's Word in their minds and that did nothing for their hearts.

When The Word of God is in your heart it controls your Will and your emotions. You're never tempted by logic, you're tempted by desires. If your logic doesn't line up with your desires unless you're disciplined you will do what you desire against your logic. People who give into temptations know that what they're doing is wrong but still do it anyway. The Word in your head makes you aware of what's right. The Word in your heart gives you the power to do it. When you have a true love for God's Word you will open your heart to it and when it's in your heart you'll actually do what it says.

Matthew 4:1-11(NKJV) -Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterward He was hungry. Now when the tempter came to Him, he said, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.” But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’” Then the devil took Him up into the holy city, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down. For it is written: ‘He shall give His angels charge over you,’ and, ‘In their hands they shall bear you up, Lest you dash your foot against a stone.’” Jesus said to him, “It is written again, ‘You shall not tempt the Lord your God.’” Again, the devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to Him, “All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me.” Then Jesus said to him, “Away with you, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.’” Then the devil left Him, and behold, angels came and ministered to Him.

How did Jesus defeat the devil when He was tempted? Most people say that He quoted scripture. Right? Wrong! The devil quoted scripture too. The scripture alone did not give Jesus the victory. If that's true, most Christians in "Word of Faith" and charismatic churches would be spiritual giants. They quote lots of scripture but that doesn't mean they're living right. Every time a Bible scholar falls into sin the question remains; "Why didn't the knowledge of all those scriptures guarantee the victory?" They don't live what they quote.

Luke 8:11-15(NKJV) “Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. Those by the wayside are the ones who hear; then the devil comes and takes away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved. But the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, who believe for a while and in time of temptation fall away. Now the ones that fell among thorns are those who, when they have heard, go out and are choked with cares, riches, and pleasures of life, and bring no fruit to maturity. But the ones that fell on the good ground are those who, having heard the word with a noble and good heart, keep it and bear fruit with patience.

Unless you're keeping The Word and bearing fruit which can be seen in your life, conveniently saying it alone doesn't unlock its true power. Jesus said that the people who receive The Word with joy but don't allow it to form roots and penetrate their hearts will fall away in the time of temptation.

James 1:22-24(NKJV) - But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was.

When you speak The Word it only has power if you really believe it. If you believe The Word you will let it change you. If The Word does not change you it has not taken root in your heart. Thus, you are not in position to use it when faced with temptation. Jesus did The Word so when He said The Word it had power. That's how it works.

Revelation 3:10(KJV) - Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.

If you keep God's Word, He'll keep you when temptation shows up.

2) Submit to God!

James 4:7-8(KJV) - Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.

You have to submit to God first before you can resist the devil and expect him to flee. The connection between submission to God and the authority to resist the devil is not a popular topic. Unfortunately, that explains why even though many of us use the name of Jesus, plead the Blood of Jesus, pray in tongues, fast, call on The Holy Spirit and quote scripture, the devil would not leave us alone. If we cannot submit to God we cannot expect the devil to flee.

John 5:30(NKJV) - I can of Myself do nothing. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is righteous, because I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me.

Jesus did not seek His own Will but did The Will of His Heavenly Father. Jesus was totally submitted to The Father. Therefore, when He resisted the devil He had the power of The Father behind Him. So the devil had no choice but to flee. Are you totally submitted to God? Do you seek only His Will? Do you keep His Word?

2 Peter 2:9(KJV) - The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished:

If you're Godly, God will deliver you out of temptation.

Ask Donnell -  How Do I Respond To Strong Temptation?

3) Watch And Pray!

Matthew 26:41(NLT) - Keep watch and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation. For the spirit is willing, but the body is weak!”

One sign that I haven't been spending enough time with The Lord is my lack of resistance to temptation. If I unplug from God's presence I lose the power to fight temptation. You can try to fight temptation with your mind or train your body to act differently to different impulses but you will always fail. Your flesh is too weak to resist temptation.

Even if you're strong enough some of the time you won't be able to resist all of the time. Your strength has to come from the power of The Holy Spirit. That's why an active, consistent prayer life is essential to every believer. You have to pray before you are tempted so that when you are tempted you don't fall.

Matthew 6:9-13(NKJV) - In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.

Have you ever wondered why Jesus said to ask God not to lead us into temptation but deliver us from evil? He didn't waste words and He told His disciples to say those words for a reason. Why? It should be understood that God would never lead us into temptation so why do we need to even pray that? That sounds right, doesn't it? Well check this out.

Matthew 4:1(KJV) - Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil.

Who led Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil? The Holy Spirit! So, if Jesus says to ask The Father not to do that to you, do exactly what Jesus said! He knows why He said it. Let's pray; "Lord, lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. We know we can't make You do anything but the least we could do is ask. Those were the instructions we received from Jesus."

A temptation is a test. If you learn something you're supposed to be tested so you can receive a reward and promoted. When God sees that you're ready to be tested that's exactly what He'll allow. Even if you end up in the middle of strong temptation that you never expected, it's just a test. Your success will result in your promotion.

James 1:12(NKJV) says, "Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him."

Beat your strongest temptation and receive your crown.

Jude 1:24-25(KJV) - Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.

You don't have to fall, The Lord is able to keep you.

We pray today's response completely answers your first question. We'll move on to your second question tomorrow.

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