Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Avoiding Temptation

How do we avoid temptation? And where do we draw the line? On the one hand, we can think we are strong and can take more than we really can. But there is also a danger of being so afraid that we hide from the world. And temptation can pull subtle tricks on you. One of my weaknesses is curiosity. Wanting to know about, for instance, a particular book or movie for pure curiosity’s sake, even though I know it will be a temptation for me. So how do we approach this so as not to put ourselves in danger without becoming totally legalistic and narrow?   

We need to start by having humility. We need to realize that we are people who are less than perfect and therefore are vulnerable (Philippians 3:12-16; Romans 7:14-25; Galatians 5:17). And pride in our own ability to stand up to temptation can increase the problem (1 Corinthians 10:12; Proverbs 16:18; Matthew 26:33,34). Scripture tells us to avoid temptations, not try to see how much we can take (1 Corinthians 10:14; 2 Timothy 2:22; Matthew 6:13). Sin has its best shot at sneaking into our life if we think we are immune. It is very hard to gauge our own strength. I suspect many of us think we are stronger than we really are, while others may be unnecessarily fearful. But if we recognize we must use caution, we are less likely to slide into sin.

We need to be careful of putting anything in the center of our life other than God. Idolatry is a subtle thing and can creep up on us (Colossians 3:5; Romans 1:25; Matthew 6:24). However, we need to be careful not to despise the good things God gives us to enjoy (Colossians 2:20-23; 1 Timothy 4:3-5; Titus 1:15). One thing we need to consider is what our own weaknesses are, for we can all be weaker brothers in respect to certain things (Romans 14:13-23; 1 Corinthians 8:7-13, 7:1-7). And we need to deal with these with severity (Matthew 5:29,30; 6:22,23 Mark 9:47). Now I do not think these verses are referring to mutilation of actual body parts, but they do mean we must get rid of whatever there is in our life that can make us stumble.

But most of all we need to trust God (Proverbs 3:5,6; Hebrew 11:6; Psalms 127:1,2). We must remember that He has saved us (Romans 5:8; Ephesians 2:8,9; 2 Peter 1:9) and is at work in us to transform us (2 Corinthians 3:18; Ephesians 2:10; Philippians 2:13). It is only by His guidance and His power that we have a chance to steer between the rocks and shoals of temptation. We need to be humble enough not only to realize that we are vulnerable, but also to realize we cannot do it on our own. We must trust in God to work in us so we avoid falling into sin. Because in a world that attacks on every side, we cannot make it on our own.

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