What is temptation? I would define temptation as a strong desire to do something that would satisfy you temporarily in place of a greater reward. Temptation is something that we all face so it is important that we know the different stages and learn how to fight it.
Stages of Temptation
YOUR MIND > FEEDING ON THOUGHTS > DESIRE > ACTION/SIN
The battle of the mind
Being tempted on its own is not bad but allowing the temptation to lead to sin is where the problem lies. Let us look at the temptation and fall of man found in the book of Genesis 3. The temptation began when Eve heard a voice saying to her ‘Has God indeed said, you shall not eat of every tree of the garden?’ The majority of the time before we fall into temptation, a thought comes into our mind or we are even fed with voices of those around us telling us to do what we know is not right. But many times, it does not stop here.
The Word of God or the lies of the enemy?
Eve then responded by saying, ‘we may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.’ And then the serpent said to her, ‘You will surely not die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.’
When a wrong thought comes into your mind or when external influences tell you to do wrong, how do you respond? Do you respond with the Word of God, like Jesus did when He was tempted, or do you fall for the lies of the devil? Many of us do the latter. This stage is where we feed and dwell on the wrong thoughts in our mind, instead of fighting them. Thoughts telling us to ‘just do it’ after all Abiola does it, in fact Segun did it last week and he got away with it.
What is in your heart
We are then told that Eve saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. What you have allowed to enter your heart will determine how you react at this stage.
Now, you may be wondering where I am going with this. The way you are tempted may be different from the way that I am. A lot of the times, the things that cause us to fall into temptation are the things which we love, also known as our desires. Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away (James 1:14). You may be tempted by greed, lust, anger, idolatry or disobedience.
I previously wrote a blog post called ‘Guard your heart’which I would recommend you read if this is an area which you struggle with and fall into temptation. Many times, we allow things to enter our heart through things that we watch, listen to and at times the people we surround ourselves with.
Eve suffered the consequences of her disobedience and even caused Adam to bear the consequences. They both played the blame game and blamed others for falling into temptation. Adam blamed Eve (‘the woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate’) whilst Eve blamed the serpent (‘the serpent deceived me, and I ate’ – Esu ni – It was the devil). Many times when we have done something wrong, we like to play the blame game rather than taking responsibility for our actions,but that is a blog post for another day. The main purpose of this post is to look at the different ways that we may be able to fight temptation before it gets to that stage of falling.
How to subdue sin and be its master!
- Pray (Luke 22:40) – Now this may sound , but I believe there is power in prayer. A simple prayer each morning, ‘Lord help me not to fall into temptation’ can go a long way. Don’t wait till you are in the position of falling into sin, fight and pray as soon as the thought comes into your mind.
- Renew your mind (Romans 12:2) – How do I renew my mind you may be wondering? Through reading and listening to the Word of God,and spending time constantly with God. This way when these thoughts come to your mind, you can fight back with the Word of God and not fall for the lies of the enemy.
- Spiritual maturity (James 4:7)– You need to understand that you cannot fight temptation alone,but through the help of the Holy Spirit. As you mature spiritually and submit to God, you will be able to resist the devil and he will flee. When Joseph was faced with temptation by Potiphar’s wife, he ran! At times, this is needed. We may find ourselves in circumstances where the only way to fight is to run.
Now, take some time after reading this post to identify the things that may be opening the door of temptation for you and break those cycles, as it is easier to avoid temptation than to resist it! Remember that God will not allow you to be tempted more than you can stand but He will provide you with a way out (1 Corinthians 10:13).