Overcoming Temptations part 1
by John Thomas Lowe
King Solomon was the wisest man ever and also one of the most foolish. God gifted him with unsurpassed wisdom, which Solomon squandered by disobeying God's commandments. Solomon's most notable achievements were his building projects, particularly the temple in Jerusalem. However, I think his most remarkable achievement came in the area of "OVERCOMING TEMPTATIONS." I will explain:
• Solomon was the third king of Israel.
• Solomon ruled with wisdom over Israel for 40 years, securing stability through treaties with foreign powers.
• He is celebrated for his wisdom and for building the temple of the Lord in Jerusalem.
• Solomon wrote much of the book of Proverbs, the Song of Solomon, the book of Ecclesiastes, and two psalms.
Solomon was the second son of King David and Bathsheba. His name means "peaceable." His alternative name was Jedidiah, meaning "beloved of the Lord." Even as a baby, Solomon was loved by God.
A conspiracy by Solomon's half-brother Adonijah tried to rob Solomon of the throne. Solomon had to kill Adonijah and Joab, David's general, to take the kingship.
Once Solomon's kingship was firmly established, God appeared to Solomon in a dream and promised him anything he asked. Solomon chose understanding and discernment, asking God to help him govern his people well and wisely. God was so pleased with the request that he granted it with great riches, honor, and longevity (1 Kings 3:11-15, NIV).
Solomon's downfall began when he married the daughter of the Egyptian Pharaoh to seal a political alliance. He could not control his lust. Among Solomon's 700 wives and 300 concubines were many foreigners, which angered God. The inevitable happened: They lured King Solomon away from Yahweh into worshipping false gods and idols.
Over his 40-year reign, Solomon did many great things, but he succumbed to lesser men's temptations. The peace a united Israel enjoyed, the massive building projects he headed, and the successful commerce he developed became meaningless when Solomon stopped pursuing God.
How big of sin are your temptations? To answer that vital question, you need to understand five foundational biblical truths about your temptations
1. Temptations are not sinful or anything you should be ashamed of.
Many people have always felt ashamed of their temptations. Why? Because they have assumed that temptations must be sinful. That is probably why no one ever speaks about their temptations—we are ashamed of them.
But the Bible clearly states that temptations are not a sin. Hebrews 4:15 contains that startling information:
Jesus was tempted in all points like we are, but He never sinned! If temptations were a sin, Jesus sinned because He was tempted just like us. However, the Bible clearly states that Jesus was sinless (2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 John 3:5). Therefore, temptations cannot be a sin or anything to be ashamed of.
2. Every single human being experiences temptations.
No one escapes the onslaught of temptations. Not a single person. Hebrews 4:15 reveals that everyone is tempted: "But was in all points tempted as we are." Did you see the words "as we are" without any exceptions or limitations? You are tempted; she is tempted; he is tempted; they are tempted; I am tempted.
3. Temptations come to everyone, no matter how godly.
Far too many of us are tragically misinformed about the truth of temptations. People assume that the more godly a person becomes, the fewer temptations that person will face. Nevertheless, the godliest of all humans who ever lived, Jesus Christ, was "tempted as we are" at all points! Godliness does not in any way limit the number of temptations we may receive. Jesus was not just tempted a little bit in "all" ways. Shocking, isn't it?
4. Temptations are typical, God-given desires that seek to trespass God's boundaries.
What exactly are temptations? The answer may surprise you because temptations are based on the typical desires God gave to all of us but with one thing out of place: Those desires seek to trespass the boundaries God established for us.
In other words, the temptation is simply a good desire gone bad!
Our God-given desires become temptations when we desire too much, go too far, or seek to fulfill them in the wrong place or with the wrong person. Temptations are simply the inner push of our typical desires to overstep God's boundaries. Often the Bible calls our sins a trespass, which means to go beyond a clear boundary into the forbidden or off-limits territory.
5. Temptations precede every sin; if you overcome temptations, you will not sin.
Every sin you have ever committed or will commit is always—and I always mean—preceded by a temptation! If you are not tempted, guess what? You will not sin!
It would help if you embraced this all-important fact: Temptations precede every sin.
With that in mind, look at how Hebrews 4:15 connects temptations and sin: "But was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin."
Jesus was tempted, but He did not permit the desires He felt to find inappropriate fulfillment in any selfish or sinful act. This means Jesus felt the desire, just like all of us do; He chose not to allow those desires to give birth to sin.
Perhaps the great overlooked secret of overcoming sin in your life is to focus on defeating the temptations you face and not so much on defeating the sins that result from your choice to give in to your temptations! Here are the three stages working in every temptation: Desire →Temptation →Sin
If you tone down the intensity of your wrongful desire, then temptations flee into the darkness, powerless and defeated. When you defeat a temptation, you no longer have to struggle with that particular desire to sin because you exercised your self-discipline and said no to that straying desi
The temptation to sin is something we all face as Christians, no matter how long we have followed Christ. However, there are practical things we can do to grow stronger and wiser in our struggle against sin. Overcoming temptation can be accomplished by sticking to five biblical practices.
More Tips for Overcoming Temptation
1. Pray when you feel tempted.
2. Read the Bible when you feel tempted.
3. Find a Christian friend you can call when you feel tempted.
Recognize Your Tendency to Sin
James 1:14 explains that we are tempted when we become enticed by our natural desires. The first step toward overcoming temptation is recognizing the human tendency to be seduced by our fleshly cravings.
The temptation to sin is a given, so do not be surprised. Please expect to be tempted daily, and be prepared for it. The apostle Peter reminds us to stay on the lookout:
Be alert and of a sober mind. Your enemy, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. (1 Peter 5:8, NIV)
Flee From Temptation
The New Living Translation of 1 Corinthians 10:13 is easy to understand and apply:
However, remember that the temptations that come into your life are no different from what others experience. Moreover, God is faithful. He will keep the temptation from becoming so strong that you cannot stand up against it. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you will not give in to it.
When you come face to face with temptation, look for the way out—the way of escape—that God has promised. Run as fast as you can. Then skedaddle. Flee.
Resist Temptation With the Word of Truth
Hebrews 4:12 says God's Word is living, active, and influential. Did you know you can carry a weapon to make your thoughts obey Jesus Christ?
According to Ephesians 6:17, one of our weapons is the Word of God:
The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have the divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. (2 Corinthians 10:4–5, NIV)
Jesus overcame the devil's temptations in the wilderness with the Word of God. If it worked for him, it would work for us. Moreover, because Jesus was fully human, he can identify with our struggles and give us the exact help we need to overcome temptation.
While it can be helpful to read God's Word when you are tempted, sometimes that is not practical. Even better is to practice reading the Bible daily so that you eventually have so much of it on the inside that you are ready whenever temptation strikes.
If you read the Bible regularly, you will have the whole counsel of God at your disposal. You will start to have the mind of Christ. When temptation comes knocking on your door, all you will have to do is draw your weapon, aim, and fire.
Refocus Your Mind and Heart With Praise
How often have you been tempted to sin when your whole heart was entirely concentrated on worshiping the Lord? I am guessing your answer is never.
Praising God takes our focus off of self and puts it on, God. You may not be strong enough to resist temptation on your own, but as you focus on God, he will inhabit your praises. He will give you the strength to resist and walk away from temptation.
Psalm 147 might be an excellent place to start:
Praise the Lord. How good it is to sing praises to our God. How pleasant and fitting to praise him! (Psalm 147:1, NIV)