B324 - Avoid temptations
In the Lord’s prayer in Matt 6:13, Jesus taught us to pray,
‘Lead us not into temptation.’
The Greek word for ‘lead’ is eisphero and it is indeed translated as lead into or bring in. And the word for ‘temptation’ is that of peirasmos or trial, testing, temptation and even calamity or affliction.
The translation regarding ‘Lead us not into temptation’ is therefore literally accurate. It is not within the context of this project to question whether God does lead us into temptation but subjecting us to trials in order to refine us is part of God’s character and his overall plan for us.
Please see D156, Trials refines and perfects believers to produce patience, for more information.
In talking about anger, the Apostle Paul reminded all of us to ‘give no opportunity to the devil’ (Eph 4:27).
Different people have different weaknesses. Some are weak when it comes to food while others are drawn in by what they see. There are strategies for us to ‘avoid’ temptations. Here are some thoughts:
- If you are susceptible to what you see, for example, watching porn on the internet, put a software lock on your system to discourage your actions or place your computer in a very public area (although we are aware that we still have smart phones to consider). In other words, make it as difficult as it is for yourself to access those sites.
- If you love food to the point of becoming a glutton, make sure that you avoid going to food binge parties. Similarly, if you have a weakness for alcohol, don’t go into a bar or stock any alcohol in your fridge,
- If your weakness is a bad rage, then avoid any toxic environment that might trigger your anger. If it is at the workplace, then find a new job. Of course, the problem becomes more challenging if it is at home.
When Jesus was presented with a boy who had seizures and was going through great suffering, Jesus rebuked the demon and it came out of him, healing the boy instantly.
Yet, the healing did not take place when the boy was brought to his disciples. Jesus explained that it was a lack of faith on their part (Matt 17:20).
In Mark 9:29, Jesus added, ‘This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer (in some translations, e.g. KJV, it included ‘fasting’).’ The original Greek is proseuche and is translated as ‘prayer’.
Like the healing of the boy, it requires discipline and a sense of determination to confront temptation. We might need to battle it beyond just the physical realm into prayer and, possibly, fasting. And it might even take quite a long while.
The encouraging news in Prov 24:16 (NLT) is that
‘the godly may trip seven times, but they will get up again.’
Avoid temptations – it could be a place, a person, or an equipment.
See also B294, Personal values – Exercise self-control.
B325 - Watch and pray not to enter into temptation
Matt 26:41 says,
‘Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.’
How true in regard to the spirit and the flesh.
The elements of ‘watching’ implies the possibility of dropping our guts, while that of ‘praying’ suggests that we have to be actively involved.
Everyone can fall – including patriarchs and apostles like
- Abraham who denied Sarah was his wife when he was in hostile territory (Gen 20:2).
- David who committed adultery and then indirectly murdered Uriah (2 Sam 11:15)when he had too much time on his hand (2 Sam 11:1); David was supposed to be out leading his troops at war. Or, the
- Apostle Peter who denied Christ just as Christ said he would (Luke 22:54-62).
Even in the Lord’s prayer, we can pray to God – ‘Lead us not into temptation’ (Luke 11:4).
B326 - Get rid of that which may cause us to sin (ringfence)
‘And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.’
In order to rid ourselves of temptation, sometimes we might require major surgery – like moving away from some friends who are bad influence or moving into a new region or getting rid of a physical thing, like a smartphone too. We might need to start anew.
To avoid temptations, we might require us to take drastic actions.
See also B294, Personal values – Exercise self-control.
B327 - Use the Word of God if we are tempted
During the temptation of Christ, Jesus quoted biblical verses to the devil.
In Matt 4, Jesus’ reply has always been consistent with ‘It is written’. Jesus knew the Scripture well and how to use them against the devil. The purpose of this project is to assist believers to strengthen the word into their lives.
When tempted, reply, ‘It is written’. Hence, it is so important to memorize biblical verses for quick recall.
B328 - Endure temptations
James 1:12 says,
‘Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life which God has promised to those who love him’.
Rev 12:11 provides a picture of the ultimate endurance of end-times believers who are prepared to pay with their lives, when it says,
‘They have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death.’
In trials and temptations, learn to endure, be steadfast, and not give in.
Meditate on the word to focus on inner peace. See D143, Persecution – Inner Peace for more information.
B329 - Find a spouse
1 Cor 7 talks about finding a spouse in order to avoid temptation. Sexual sins are unfortunately easy targets for the devil to pin on men and even women.
Sex, according to Abraham Maslow, often considered as the father of human psychology and who gave us ‘Maslow’s hierarchy of needs’, explained that sex is a physiological need alongside with food and breathing; it is the lowest form of needs of an individual.
Even during the times of Paul, he knew human needs well.
Hence, go ahead and find a spouse in order to reduce the possibility of one’s own immorality and temptation.
PS: Consider this, in the Old Testament, matchmaking was acceptable.
B330 - Abstain from sexual immorality
1 Cor 6:18-20 says,
‘Flee from sexual immorality.’
Simply put, stay away from sexual sins. To understand what these are, turn to S121 to S131, Sexual immorality, which explains what these are and stay away from them.
In a world when there is so much traveling and working abroad for a long period of time as well as people remaining single, we have to devise strategies to keep our minds on the Lord.
- The straightforward strategy is to get married as found in B329, Find a spouse. It reduces the potential for sexual sins although it does not eliminate them.
- It is also important to understand our personal weaknesses and walk away from people/ events/ places that may cause us to fall into temptation and sin. A good example is alcohol which can make us do things that we would otherwise not do. Know ourselves. James 1:14 says that we are drawn away with our own lusts.
- You may also think of creating an accountability network (small group or just a few close friends). Hence, B29 – Cultivate a few close (Christian) friends, and B30 – Confess our sins to one another, can be helpful to uphold each other in prayer. While we do not need to go into specifics, prayer will strengthen each other.
- Occupy ourselves. Staying idle can result in us failing. Even King David fell because he got careless as in 2 Sam 11:2; he did not go out to war with his men but stayed behind and was caught with wondering eyes.
- Spend time reading God’s word to let it cleanse our minds. What we occupy our mind will eventually impact us. Phil 4:8 asks us to meditate on good things.
- Do not be discourage. When we fail, we can come back again. Don’t quit being a Christian because the devil would love that. Persist. Ps 37:23-24 says, ‘The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, and he delights in his way. Though he falls, he will not be overwhelmed, for the Lord is holding his hand.’
- When we fail in temptation, let us go to God and confess. He already knows our sin. And he will forgive us. Matt 18:22 explains that God will forgive our sins all the time as long as we confess them before him, even if it is for the umpteenth time.
B331 - Consider all trials to be a test on the genuineness of our faith
Matt 13:1-23, the sower distributes the seeds. Some fell on good soil while others went through more problematic ground. All of us will be tested and it depends on how much root we have.
- Do we only enjoy the word for a short period and then after that, look for the next flavor of the period?
- Can we endure tribulation or persecution when it arises?
- Are we being waylaid by the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches?
When do trials come?
The Apostle Peter said,
‘Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you’ (1 Peter 4:12).
Trials are normal and will come upon us in our walk with Jesus throughout our lives. It should never surprise us.
1 Thes 3:4 says,
‘For when we (Paul and company) were with you, we kept telling you beforehand that we were to suffer affliction, just as it has come to pass, and just as you know.’
It is a fallacy if a preacher conveys to us that Christians will escape trials because of what Jesus had done on the cross.
Why do we need to be tested?
Because, according to Heb 12:7, it is for our own good as God treats us as his children.
‘For what son (or daughter) is there whom his father does not discipline?’
1 Peter 1:7 says, that
‘the tested genuineness of your faith – more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire – may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.’
2 Thes 1:5 says,
‘that we may be considered worthy of the kingdom of God.’
Trials show us how we value our dependency and trust in Jesus. In fact, it is the Quality Check phase of a Christian; as in the natural, so it is in the spiritual.
And how should our response be to trials?
James 1:2 says,
‘Count it all joy when we meet trials of various kinds for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.’
Consider what the Apostle Paul rated to be important in Phil 3:10 as – to know Christ, to know the power of his resurrection, and to know the fellowship of his sufferings, being conformed to him in his death.
We should rejoice in the mist of trials for it solidifies our belief in our Lord Jesus Christ. Trials did not belittled the Apostle Paul and are part of refining Christians.
Remember that when we go through trials, they are for testing the genuineness of our faith.