Sunday, February 9, 2014

Dealing With Temptation

I wanted to share something that the Lord has been showing me over the past several months. Much of what I am writing is based on a very good book I read not too long ago, Reclaiming Surrendered Ground by Jim Logan.
Now, what I am writing about will be how to handle temptation. I have struggled with lust for a long time and this has really helped to give me the tools I needed for continued victory. We will start by reading the temptation of Jesus that is found in Matthew 4. I am mostly concerned with Jesus' responses, not necessarily the deep thoughts that can be found in the things Satan used to tempt Him.

 "Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” But he answered, “It is written,
“‘Man shall not live by bread alone,
    but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
Then the devil took him to the holy city and 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 will command his angels concerning you,’
“‘On their hands they will bear you up,
    lest you strike your foot against a stone.’”
Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” 10 Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written,
“‘You shall worship the Lord your God
    and him only shall you serve.’”
11 Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him."

I am very grateful that the temptation of Jesus is recorded in Scripture. If we look into what is written, we will find many tools to help us in our own struggles with temptation.

Jesus had just finished his forty day fast in the wilderness. Think about the spiritual high points in your life. Those mountain top experiences that you wish were your reality everyday. They are always followed by time in the valley. This is when Satan likes to make his move. You feel empowered from the experience and Satan seeks to stop you dead in your tracks and discourage you away from the lofty goals you had set your mind on.

Also, it says"he was hungry."
Satan will seek out the weaknesses in your life and exploit them. James 1:14 says "each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire (lusts)". With this in mind we should be on guard for the tempter in times of weakness. Charles Stanley has a helpful acrostic, HALT. Watch out when you are Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired. I have found this very helpful.

I recognize that what I am about to say is no great revelation but, it is not a sin to be tempted. I know you already knew that, but the reality of this truth has helped me a lot, as simple as it is. In the past I would be tempted and I instantly would feel guilty for even having such a sinful thought and Satan would begin to harass me with accusations when in truth, he was the one who put that thought there! I can see that Satan has blinded my eyes to the simplest of truths.

 We see that Jesus used the authority of the Word of God to resist Satan's temptation. This is the primary point that I am trying to expound upon in this post. John 8:44b "[Satan] is a liar and the father of lies" and so when we are tempted, it is often based upon a lie that Satan is trying to convince us of (actually, I can't think of a time that isn't related to a lie we are believing). A lie that what he offers will complete us. And so, when we are tempted with Satan's lies, we should respond with a counteracting truth based on, if not directly quoted from, God's Word. Pretty simple idea, but the implications of this concept are amazing!

Satan again tempts Him, twisting Scripture to his own means in hopes to deceive Jesus. Jesus again replies with God's Word. We should note James 4:7 "7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you." Now, one thing that I have always wrestled with was the many times I have resisted Satan and he does not flee from me! I usually get discouraged and cave to the temptation thinking resistance doesn't work. But here we see Jesus, the Son of God, being tempted a second time after already resisting Satan. This was an "Aha!" moment for me. The Bible tells us that if we resist Satan then he will flee. This passage is not a promise that if we resist Satan once then he will leave. It must be saying, as was the case with Jesus, that if we continually resist Satan then he will flee from us. Yet another simple thought that has been revolutionary for me! All we have to do is embrace this promise in Scripture and we can find strength to continue the fight. After Satan's third attempt, it is just as James tells us, "the devil left him". This will be true in our own battles with temptation if we continue to resist no matter how hopeless it seems.

To summarize,

-Watch out after spiritual high points and when weakness is felt.
  Remember to HALT when Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired.

1 Peter 5:8
Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.

-Counteract with truth.
 It would seem that Jesus said these rebuttals OUT LOUD. We should not shy away from verbally resisting  Satan. An example of what you could say is "Satan, I resist you! I have authority through my union with Christ. Greater is He that is in me than he that is in the world"
Obviously, words and precepts are powerless unless we embrace the truth God has given us - if you are just saying the words and you aren't believing them, they won't help you.
 Remember to resist repeatedly. Satan would have us believe that our attempts at resisting are meaningless, but it is a lie. Don't give up. Trust God's word when it says,

1 Corinthians 10:13
"13 No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it."

I hope that others will find these ideas helpful. I am hoping to write another post soon about ways we can get more truth into our minds because I can see that it is the vehicle that gives us power over Satan and his lies.


  1. Interesting post. HALT is particularly practical. After reading your post today, then reading "To Train Up a Child" a paragraph on children's guilt (which applies to adults) seemed to relate:

    "Guilt is never in itself restorative. That is, it does not tend towards less blameworthy actions, for, though it directs the soul away from causing guilt, there is no strength or moral courage in guilt itself. On the contrary, the guilt-ridden soul is a slave to every temptation. Compounded guilt puts one out of touch with normal psychological restraints."

    Contrary to modern psychological teachings which view guilt as the culprit, guilt is like the smoke alarm. It's when we don't feel guilt that we should be worried- a sensitive conscience is the sign of God's prompting in our life. I'm personally encouraged in knowing that God never gives us more than we can handle, and the temptations we overcome now will help us overcome temptations/trials in the future.

  2. Elliot,

    Thank you for caring enough about others to share your testimony, Elliot. Most people never tell their struggles and triumphs because they are too concerned with their outward appearance.

  3. Great post! I especially appreciated the HALT analogy and also your caution to watch out after spiritually high points, I've also found it easy to fall after these "mountain top" experiences. Thanks for sharing.