Mind Games!
Temptation - Deal with it!
Galatians 6:1

These notes are from a transcript of the postings during Bible Study at Bible Study Chat at churchusa.com. You are welcome to join us!

Father God, we thank you for another glorious spring day. We praise you for all of your gifts to us. We thank you most of all for your Word, that is able to save us, heal us, cleanse us, deliver us, and take us to Heaven!

satan we come against you tonight and bind you in Jesus Name. We rebuke you and cast you out of this holy place!

Holy Spirit, we invite you as our teacher and pray you will show us the truth according to God's Word. Open the hearts and eyes of the listeners tonight and help them receive the Word. AMEN

We talked at some length about the proper way for a Christian to handle offenses. Those notes are posted on my web site, if you missed it. I thought I was through with verse 1, but the Lord has been prompting me to talk about temptation. Tonight will be a little different because we will be jumping around to several scriptures, but I will post them for you, and will post the notes on my web page a little later. I can also send the notes by email if you prefer.

Galatians 6:1 Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted.

What is temptation?

Temptation is an enticement to sin, that which causes us to start thinking about committing a sin, a solicitation to do evil, an allurement or enticement to sin

Where does temptation come from?

From satan:
John 8:44 You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father's desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.

Ephesians 2:2-3 In which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath.

Notice that it says that the devil is "the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient" and that those are "gratifying the desires of their sinful nature" following its desires and thoughts.

From man or the world:
1 Timothy 6:9 People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction.

One of the main goals of our society is to get rich, one way or another. Getting rich causes many temptations and snares - especially for those who don't care what they do to get there!

1 John 2:16, 26 For everything in the world--the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does--comes not from the Father but from the world… I am writing these things to you about those who are trying to lead you astray.

Along with wealth comes social status, "boasting about what he has and does" - and those who live this lifestyle will tempt you into doing the same. Selfishness is at the bottom of it!

2 Peter 3:17 Therefore, dear friends, since you already know this, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of lawless men and fall from your secure position.

We need to be very careful that the morals and goals of our society don't enslave us too! And be carried away into temptation and sin by lawless men and women, making it so easy to compromise in this society.

From selfish lusts and desires:
James 1:13 When tempted, no one should say, "God is tempting me." For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed.

We'll look at this verse it more detail in a minute. But notice that we are tempted when we are drawn away by OUR OWN lusts and desires. God does not do it to us. Did you ever notice how people will yield to temptation, commit sin, get into trouble and blame God? Or the Church? Or some Christian? Or their mom? Or anybody they can find? But God does not tempt us.

But blame only hides the real problem - what did I do to get me into this mess? OK, so the three main sources of temptation are satan, the world, and our own lusts.

Is it a sin to be tempted?

1 Corinthians 10:13 No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.

It is NOT a sin to be tempted, only to yield to it. It is "common to man" to be tempted. And God will not allow us to be tempted beyond what we can bear, providing a way out so we can resist it. Of course, there are situations we can get ourselves into where we are more likely to yield to it - such as an alcoholic going to bars! That's our choice - we can yield to it or resist it, standing firm in the faith. God does not tempt us but he will allow us to be tempted

What is the purpose of temptation?

And that brings up the next point. What is the purpose of temptation? Why does God allow it?

1 Peter 1:6-7 In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith--of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire--may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.

God allows it because it tests our faith in Him, and in our weakness His strength is made perfect. Can you think of an example from the Bible where a person's faith was tested in this way?

What about Joseph when he was tempted by Potiphar's wife in Egypt? He resisted her advances to stay pure unto God. What happened then? Well, Joseph was tested even more. Instead of being rewarded for his virtue, Potiphar's wife told a lie and had him thrown into prison! How that must have tested his faith! But as you know the Lord exalted him into the second place in all Egypt and used him to save all Israel from famine.

Job was tested, and so was Abraham in offering up his son, and Jesus, tested for 40 days and 40 nights. There are many more, whose lives are given as an example to us. And what about old Peter! When you get discouraged, just read some of these "heroes of the faith"! The Bible tells it like it is, doesn't pretty up or glorify their lives. It shows us their struggles so we can be encouraged and learn from them.

Virtue - People today want results INSTANTLY
ivory - Yes, we want "microwave" answers to "crockpot" problems *S*

Testing teaches us patience!

James 1:2-4 Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. [trials - peirasmos - trial, attack, put to proof, examine, question]

You know when troubles come; do we usually react in JOY? Be honest! Or do we grumble gripe and complain? Think how much easier it all would be if we said, HEY! This is a trial, a temptation, a hardship! Lord, what wonderful treasure of knowledge love and peace are you trying to teach me here?

Virtue - Amen, the more trials, the more maturity!
JackieOh - Yes OldTimer, it is hard to react with joy at first, but isn't that a temptation to? I mean to gripe and growl instead of looking up?
Athie - God forgive us for complaining
ivory - Yes, that is the right attitude.....I would like to try that but most of the time I "react" too fast
Virtue - We hold up our blessings and rewards when we murmur

But LATER, can't you see WHY this thing happened? And don't you wish you'd been a little more patient? I know I do! Look what trouble the Israelites got into in the desert when they were murmuring and griping! Serious stuff, there.

ivory - And I realize then that when I reacted I missed the blessing that could have come from a more mature attitude…

Why does God allow it to happen? To mature us, perfect our faith, teach us patience, to test us and see if we really believe what we say we do. TO SEE IF WE ARE A HYPOCRITE. In the Greek trials - peirasmos - means trial, attack, put to proof, examine, question

What is the process of temptation?

Now how does temptation work - how does it cause us to sin? It is ALWAYS our choice, whether to resist temptation or to yield to it.

James 1:13-15 When tempted, no one should say, "God is tempting me." For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.

The Process of Temptation

A. Tempted: thought of evil - an enticement or allurement comes into your mind, through something you see, hear, or think about. (v. 14)
B. Drawn away: strong imagination - we begin to meditate on it, concentrate on what it is, what it would do for us, etc. (v. 14)
C. Lust (desire): delight in viewing it - it begins to excite our desires, we begin to want it.
D. Enticed: weakening of the will - as we entertain thought of doing it, our will begins to weaken. We begin to justify doing it.
suebq - seems humans always justify whatever they are not willing or desiring to change
So the seed of temptation has been planted and then,
E. Lust (desire) conceived: yielding to the thought - the deed is conceived within us and we decide to do it. Then it's only a tiny step to actually doing it.
F. Sin: sinful act committed. We find ourselves doing it! (v.15)
G. Death: the ultimate result of actual sin (v. 15)

Now many times people get themselves in a situation and wonder how they got there! But you don't just go out and commit adultery, get drunk, lie, steal, etc. without entertaining those thoughts first. Someone wise once said "The thought is father to the deed". That's why Jesus said that hatred is the same as murder. You hate first and entertain thoughts of murder, then you commit the act. Many think, "It will never happen to me" or "just once won't hurt" or "everybody else is doing it"!

suebq - devil's job is to plant the thoughts...then get you to take them as yours...then get you pressured in the emotional realm to act on them. also..Prov.23:7 For as he thinketh in his heart so is he

Now let's look at how to resist temptation.

Was Jesus tempted? (see also Luke 4:1-13)

Hebrews 4:15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are--yet was without sin.

Praise the Lord! Jesus sympathizes with us - He's felt the tempter's snare. And has made a way for us to escape it through Him!

Mark 1:12-13 At once [after the baptism] the Spirit sent him out into the desert, and he was in the desert forty days, being tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and angels attended him.

Matthew 4:1-2 Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.

The Greek here actually means the Spirit DROVE Him into the wilderness. His first act after His baptism and the start of His ministry was to be tempted of the devil. After forty days and nights without food, Jesus was very hungry.

Matthew 4:3-4 The tempter came to him and said, "If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread." Jesus answered, "It is written: `Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.' [Deut. 8:3]"

Can you imagine how hungry He was? I can hardly miss one meal. He had the power to make bread out of stones or whatever - but not at satan's command! But notice that he countered the devil's command with the WORD of God! Doing what God says is more important than our daily bread.

suebq - fasting and prayer are still in my book the power twins...shuts down the flesh...and moves us into a place of hearing God...and receiving from Him

Matthew 4:5-6 Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. "If you are the Son of God," he said, "throw yourself down. For it is written: "`He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.' [Psalm 91:11]"

Now see how crafty the devil is. Now he's gonna try to use the Word too! It's like he's saying, "OK you believe in the Word of God, prove it!" The devil can appear to be an angel of light, if possible to deceive the very elect of God. He can spout scriptures too. But Jesus wasn't going to be fooled into that trick.

suebq - yep...devils know the word...better than most Christians... sad... and they twist it and use it against us

You can't always tell the difference at first, but eventually the truth will come out. Just test everything by the Word. And "by their fruits you shall know them".

Matthew 4:7 Jesus answered him, "It is also written: `Do not put the Lord your God to the test.' [Deut. 6:16]"

A test the same as a dare. The devil was saying, "I double dog dare you. Prove you are the Son of God. If you are, the angels will catch you!"

Matthew 4:8-9 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. "All this I will give you," he said, "if you will bow down and worship me."

Now we are told that satan is the prince of the power of the air and the prince of this world. When Adam sinned, he literally gave dominion of the earth to satan. Part of redemption involves buying back, not only mankind, but also all of creation. Just think, if it wasn't satan's to give, why would it have been a temptation? This would have been a "short cut" to becoming Messiah, to becoming King of all the earth. But Jesus didn't buy it. He knew there was no shortcut for what He needed to do.

Matthew 4:10-11 Jesus said to him, "Away from me, Satan! For it is written: `Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.' [Deut. 6:13]" Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.

Luke 4:13 When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time.

Again Jesus defeated satan by the Word. So that's how Jesus defeated the devil. Let's look at how we can, too.

How do I fight temptation?

Some think that Christians are wusses, no backbone, whatever. But the Christian life is a fight!

I Timothy 1:18-19 Timothy, my son, I give you this instruction in keeping with the prophecies once made about you, so that by following them you may fight the good fight, holding on to faith and a good conscience. Some have rejected these and so have shipwrecked their faith.

It IS possible to fail - note that Paul told Timothy that some "have shipwrecked their faith". Once I thought I could get by on flowery beds of ease, just praise the Lord, be happy and that's all I had to do. But was I in for a shock! And then I was a kind of wimpy soldier, half-hearted about it. Things got worse! I had to put on the armor of God and stand up to the devil!

2 Timothy 2:3 Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus.

I had to toughen up! I had to seek God and really learn what it meant to be a soldier! We have defensive and offensive tactics against temptation in particular and satan in general.

Defensive Strategy - Prayer Life

This is our communication with God - the General of this army. That is essential to know where to fight and how!

Matthew 6:13 - And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.

Matthew 26:41 "Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak." (Mark 14:38)

If we stay in prayer then the Lord can warn us of potential areas of conflict and strengthen us. When Jesus told the disciples this, He was praying in the Garden of Gethsemene prior to His crucifixion. He knew the trials and temptations that would immediately face them; a severe trial that might lead to the faltering of their faith.

To me prayer is simply talking to the Father in the Name of Jesus. I've heard a lot of study about prayers of this kind and another, but I just talk to my Father and tell Him how much I love Him, tell Him what I need, ask for direction, etc.

suebq - OT...Jude 20 tells us that we build ourselves up in our most Holy Faith by praying in the Holy Ghost...
BSoC - We were given 2 ears and only 1 mouth. maybe we should listen twice as much as we talk.

What did the disciples do after this warning? Went back to sleep TWICE!

Luke 22:40 On reaching the place, he said to them, "Pray that you will not fall into temptation."

Luke 22:45-46 When he rose from prayer and went back to the disciples, he found them asleep, exhausted from sorrow. "Why are you sleeping?" he asked them. "Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation."

Ephesians 6:18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.

And prayer is effective Hebrews 2:18 Because he [Jesus] himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.

1 Peter 4:7 The end of all things is near. Therefore be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray.

Defensive Strategy - Thought Life

Another defense is guarding our thoughts. This is imperative because the mind is the battleground!

2 Corinthians 10:5 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.

Philippians 4:8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things.

When we think, our thoughts are either vain imaginations [pretensions] that lead to sin and need to be cast down and demolished, OR the truthful, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent or praiseworthy thoughts that Paul is referring to here. Just as we test what we hear from preachers, etc, by the Word, we should test our thoughts.

A lot of the people I try to minister to suffer from low self-esteem because they are lying to themselves. You're stupid, fat, ugly, not good enough, not worthy, etc. Another thought here, if something is not praiseworthy, should we repeat it? You guessed it - gossip! The favorite unconfessed sin of many.

See if you test your thoughts, you are much less likely to SAY something you regret later! Look at advertising - it is designed to convince us we are ugly, have bad breath, are stupid, etc. so we will buy THEIR product that will remedy all this, until of course it gets new and improved.

And one more thing - Garbage In/Garbage Out. If you fill your mind with junk, well call out the garbage truck, cause that's what's going to come out of your mouth.

suebq - and things we had said over us and about us in our lives...those are strongholds...and things that caused hurts...and trauma in our lives...the devil capitalizes on them...waits for the opportunity and wham....hits you...and you don't even understand it...or why

Right suebq, old garbage from old lies!

Philippians 4:8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things.

6 things to meditate upon:

  1. True things - all that is in harmony with eternal truth in creation and revelation
  2. Honest things - all that is grave, decent, honorable and Christian
  3. Just things - all that is in harmony with justice and righteousness
  4. Pure things - all that is chaste and holy for body and soul
  5. Lovely things - all that is pleasing and tends to bless others
  6. Things of good report - all that is in harmony with the best public good, virtuous and praiseworthy (Dakes, p. 237)

 

Defensive Strategy - Living by the Spirit

If we let the Holy Spirit dwell in us by faith and produce in us the fruit of the Spirit, then we'll be much too busy to yield to temptation!

Galatians 5:16 So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature.

suebq - and without the Holy Spirit illuminating that...and healing it...it can take us down the road of defeat and fear...and failure year after year

1 Corinthians 16:13 Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong.

Why don't more Christians walk in the Spirit? Could they be lazy or fearful or what? We need to be courageous, strong, standing FIRM in the faith. Be watchful, on guard.

suebq - that is where praying comes in...it lights the candle...our spirit is the candle of the Lord...and he searches the inward parts of the belly...our hearts...etc...and digs it out...so we can deal with it...once exposed the devil loses his power

Hebrews 12:2 Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

We need to take our eyes off the world and fix them on Jesus. Learn who He is and what He did and try to be like him and not Mel Gibson or Madonna. There is real danger in fixing your eyes on another person. The arm of flesh will fail you. That's why I agree with the writer of Hebrews: looking unto JESUS the author and finisher (completer, maturer) of our faith.

1 John 4:4 You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.

Defensive Strategy - Put on the Armor of God

God never called us to do anything He didn't first equip us for. The devil is a mighty foe, make no mistake about it! But God has provided everything we need to live the godly life He requires.

suebq - if we knew we were deceived ...we would not be deceived....and the only way to know...is truth...the truth of the word...revealed to us through spending time in prayer with God

Romans 13:12 The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.

Put on the armor of light! we are clad with the light of God, shining into darkness. As we reflect Jesus' light, we make old slewfoot have to put on sunglasses to cut down on the glare!

Let's look at this armor that God has provided for us.

Ephesians 6:10-18 - Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes.

We see a lot of interest today in bodybuilding and sports. But physical strength can only take you so far, and is powerless against the devil. We need to be strong IN THE LORD, and in the POWER of His might.

Notice that it says put on the FULL armor, don't leave any of it off! and WHEN not IF the day of evil comes. Expect combat! And what is our goal? to STAND! We don't compromise, play "patty cake" or give in to the devil, we STAND our ground against him! Then HE must flee.

Ephesians 6:12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

Ephesians 6:13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.

Ephesians 6:14-15 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.

Ephesians 6:16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.

Ephesians 6:17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

Truth, righteousness, peace, salvation and faith make up our defensive armor. Notice that the shield of faith will quench ALL the flaming arrows of the evil one. To have that kind of faith. Grant it Lord!

Now that's our defensive stance against temptation and satan. What are our offensive tactics?

Offensive Strategy - Casting Down Strongholds -

THE MIND IS THE BATTLEGROUND!

Whether you know it or not, if you are an unbeliever - and sometimes even if you are a Christian - satan has erected strongholds in your mind and thought processes. The Bible says " Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will." (Romans 12:2) Or as a modern translation says, "Don't let the world squeeze you into its mold, but be transfigured by the renewing of your minds". The Living Bible says, "Don't copy the behavior and customs of this world, but be a new and different person with a fresh newness in all you do and think. Then you will learn from your own experience how his ways will really satisfy you."

Part of this renewal is coming against the strongholds that the devil has built in our minds: the skepticism, doubt, unbelief, fear, etc. against the Word of God, and the castles of lust and craving.

2 Corinthians 10:3-5 (KJV) For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal [fleshly], but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;

2 Corinthians 10:3-5 (NIV) For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have 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.

This scripture is true whether we are praying it to come against strongholds in our own life or the life of others. God has given us power to come against strongholds, pulling down vain imaginations, pretensions arguments, craving lusts, anything that sets itself up above God's will and the knowledge from the Word. Bring any thoughts which is contrary to virtue, purity and righteousness in to captivity of Christ.

Finis Jennings Dake said: "The whole picture here is that of a strong fortified city where the enemy makes his last stand: entrenching himself about the walls; raising towers and preparing engines of defense and offence upon the walls to insure victory. The fortifications, walls, towers, and castles are taken by the Gospel and the whole opposition is destroyed and taken captive." (Dakes, p. 197)

Matthew 15:18-20 But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man `unclean.' For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. These are what make a man `unclean'; but eating with unwashed hands does not make him `unclean.'" (see also Mark 7:21-22)

Offensive Strategy - The Word of God

Our last offensive tactic or weapon against temptation is the Word. We've touched on the fact that Jesus used the Word against satan when He was tempted.

Psalms 119:9 How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word

Ephesians 6:17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

When we read the Word, it encourages us and tests our hearts and leads us to be more like Jesus! The best way to defeat temptation is to get the Word in our hearts and minds to that it will be living and active within us. When temptation rears its ugly head, the Word will slice it right off! Praise the Lord.

Results of yielding to temptation

Fall away from the faith: Luke 8:13 Those on the rock are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away.

Be left behind at the rapture: Revelation 2:2-3 Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your deeds complete in the sight of my God. Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; obey it, and repent. But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you.

Suicide: Matthew 27:5 So Judas threw the money into the temple and left. Then he went away and hanged himself.

Blessings of endurance under temptation

James 1:12 Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.

Revelation 3:10 - Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come upon the whole world to test those who live on the earth.

Father God, thank you for the opportunity to present your Word tonight. Let it sink deep into the hearts of the listeners. May it bear much fruit. May it bring victory! In Jesus Name AMEN!

 

Remember, whenever God gives us a revelation, the devil tries to steal it from us. Guard your hearts and meditate on what you've learned!
And put it into practice!

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