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Asking Questions


How to practically fight temptation


How to handle temptation by Valerie Woerner, prayer journal, women's ministry, prayer, meditation, how to make a prayer journal, prayer warrior, war room, Bible study, tools, prayer notebook, how to pray, distance, distant from god, temptationMany of us are begging the question. Why does God feel so far sometimes? How can we profess a relationship with God while still feeling like He’s keeping His distance from us? One of the most searched phrases on our site is “what to do when I feel distant from God”.

We’ve talked about this before on the podcast, and on the blog, too, but as I was reading through my Bible plan earlier this month, I was struck by temptation and the impact it has on my life. This plan I’m reading through has a little of the Old Testament and New Testament each day. Because of that, I read the story of Adam and Eve being tempted (Gen 3:1-5) one day and Jesus being tempted (Matthew 4:1-11) the next day. It was cool to see the parallels between the two (and how they differed). Both were tempted in three ways:

The lust of the eyes – The passion to have – Materialism
The lust of the flesh – The passion to feel – Hedonism
The pride of life – The passion to be – Egoism

These are temptations we face as well that can draw us away from intimacy with the Lord. Too often though, we can treat temptations as something that we will inevitably succumb to. Don’t things like overindulging in shopping, food or pride feel a bit basic? Many of us will stay away from the big offenders like stealing from a neighbor, having an affair, or playing God, but don’t we still succumb to temptations to do this in small ways?

We’ve accepted it as perfectly normal without realizing the impact it has on our lives.

1 John 2:15-17 says, “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.”

We’ve allowed our attention to be captured by things that don’t last. And this will impact our conversation with the Lord. How can it not? These are the very things our enemy tries to tempt us with because he knows they have the power to dull our senses to the Lord.

1 Peter 5:8 says, “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”

Maybe we forgot the enemy could use something as simple as a bag of powdered donuts (which I chronicled in The Finishing School), or maybe it’s these small things in our life that have gone untended to that have stolen our eyes away from the Lord.

So, how do we respond to the inevitable temptation in our life so we can enjoy a deeper intimacy with the Lord?

1. Remember God has provided a way out.

1 Corinthians 10:13 says, “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.”

Can we praise God for this? I have forgotten this a lot and chosen to succumb to temptation because I forget it’s possible to say no.

When temptation comes, look for the exit remembering there actually is one.

2. Begin to recognize areas of strength.

We can be annoyed that we face temptations or we can rejoice when we overcome them and let them build a strength to keep overcoming. Thomas a Kempis said, if temptations “are resisted they are very profitable, for by them a man is made more humble and is purified and instructed in various manners which he would never have known save through the experience of such temptations.” Our character is being developed as we face temptations and resist.

3. Begin to recognize areas of weakness and play offense.

Pray for awareness and for God to prick your heart when you succumb to temptation. There will likely be things that come up over and over again. As you take time to think of the greatest temptations you face and areas of weakness, commit to memorizing Scripture that will help you respond to them. Be ready to preach truth to yourself in moments of temptation as Jesus did. Each of Jesus’ responses to Satan’s temptations were things He knew from Scripture. See below the passages in Deuteronomy Jesus referenced.

Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” But he answered, “It is written,

“‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” [Deuteronomy 8:3]

Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written,

“‘He will command his angels concerning you,’ and “‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.’”
Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” [Deuteronomy 6:16]

Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written,

“‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.’” [Deuteronomy 6:13]

Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him.

4. Pray for God to turn your eyes to whatever is lovely and pure.

How to handle temptation by Valerie Woerner, prayer journal, women's ministry, prayer, meditation, how to make a prayer journal, prayer warrior, war room, Bible study, tools, prayer notebook, how to pray, distance, distant from god, temptation

Philippians 4:8 says, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”

One of the worst things we can do is sit there telling ourselves, “Stop thinking about ___. Stop thinking about ___.” It doesn’t work. The best way to resist temptation is to flee from it and think about something else. James 4:7 says, “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”

This lesson may feel very elementary. Don’t Sunday School classes talk about temptation and how to say no? You might even be skimming to the bottom because it feels so boring to talk about. But if we aren’t enjoying deep communion with God, it’s very possible we are choosing so many other things instead of God’s presence.

Maybe you tried to give Him 5 minutes of your morning and it was dull and boring so you assume prayer isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Remember, God desires our WHOLE HEARTS and we have lots of things competing for them.

What if we slowed down and made an honest assessment of the tools our enemy is using to steal our attention from God?

Chip Ingram and Gary Smalley gave these helpful questions:

The lust of the eyes – The passion to have – Materialism

  • Do we work insane hours to buy things we don’t need?
  • Are we impatient with others moving too slow? Could be a sign we’re trying to acquire more too much.
  • Are we constantly searching for the perfect dress/rug/accessory?

The lust of the flesh – The passion to feel – Hedonism

  • Do we turn to food when we need comfort?
  • Do we find pleasure in helping others? If not, it could be a sign our own pleasure is the highest pursuit.
  • Are we so addicted to music that we cannot go anywhere without earbuds?

The pride of life – The passion to be – Egoism

  • Do we feel sufficient to handle things on our own?
  • Are we ok when someone else gets credit for something we did?
  • Do we make excuses for why we can’t rest one day a week?

Let’s root out the very things that are stealing our attention and turn our eyes and full attention to the Lord––to eternal things. There is no greater joy than intimacy with the Lord. And even as things call our name and try to lure us with the belief that they can satisfy, if we continue to respond like Adam and Eve we will be disappointed before we finish the fruit. And sadly, we might blame it all on God for why we feel distant. Draw near to God and away from temptation. He has promised to draw near to you as you do (James 4:8)!

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