Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Resisting Temptation

In an earlier post I stated that we can’t police ourselves. My point was that we have a predisposition to sin (do wrong things), and even various controls and inadequate and don’t stop us. We love the forbidden fruit. Consequently, we are vulnerable to temptation, and we are experts at rationalizing our wrongdoing: it won’t hurt anybody, nobody will know, everybody’s doing it, etc.

How, you may ask, do we keep from doing wrong things (euphemistically called “making bad choices” these days)? It isn’t easy, but as I mentioned in my earlier post, the best way to fight off temptation is staying close to God by regular worship, daily prayer, and weekly Bible study. Often temptations are stronger than we are, so we need God to help us. If we rely solely on our own strength, we will fail, eventually hurting ourselves and others.

You should realize there is nothing wrong with being tempted – even Jesus was tempted. How we handle it is the question. Do we rely on God to get us through? In the temptation stories of Jesus (Matthew 4:1-11 and Luke 4:1-13) the devil throws Scripture at him, misusing it to try to mislead him. Jesus, obviously knowledgeable in the Scriptures, throws some back at the devil, correctly applying it and driving the devil away.

The moral is that if we know Scripture, it can be helpful in resisting temptation, with the bonus that it helps us discern its wrong use or its misinterpretation in false teaching. Let us remember this passage from 1 Peter 5:8-9a: Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith. (NIV)

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