Starting the book of James today. Five chapters, five days. Another entire book of the Bible! Keep reading!
I like chocolate. Ice cream is my desert of choice. Me and cookies and milk, we get along. I have an appetite for these things. I find them tempting. When I’m the least bit hungry, even when I’m not hungry at all, if they are nearby, I find myself struggling to decide. To eat or not to eat.
Coffee is a different story. So are vegetables. I’ve never once struggled over whether or not to eat brussels sprouts. No matter how much brown sugar and bacon you cook them in green beans have never caught my attention. Put as much cheese as you want on the broccoli I still won’t eat it. I don’t find these things tempting.
I find then a principle. Temptation is about my appetite. It’s about what I like, what I want, what I desire. It leads to a conclusion. If I want to overcome sin I have to overcome temptation. My appetite for sinful things has to shrink while my hunger and thirst for righteousness must grow.
That’s not any more natural for me than waking up tomorrow and craving turnips.
That’s not any more natural for me than waking up tomorrow and hating chocolate.
For my diet to be different something has to change…in me. More specifically, something has to change me.
Overcoming temptation isn’t about turning over a new leaf. When you do, you just find old dirt. It’s not about will power. A person can only endure so long. It’s about a change of heart that leads to a change of appetites expressed as a change of choices.
That only comes by the grace and forgiveness of God through Jesus Christ.
What temptations trip you up? What sinful desires will you give in to today? Don’t be fooled. You weren’t tricked. You’re not stupid. You may be weak, but your weakness is understandable. We sin because we like it. We’re tempted by that sin because we find it attractive. We pursue wrong things because we have an appetite for sin.
James 1:13-14 says, “And remember, when you are being tempted, do not say, “God is tempting me.” God is never tempted to do wrong, and he never tempts anyone else. Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away.
Today, you will face temptation. How will you overcome? Here’s how I handle it.
- PRAY – ask God to remove you from temptation. Ask him to change your appetite for sin and give you a hunger and thirst for righteousness.
- KNOW – Do you know what tempts you? Where are you weak? How are you strong? Understand the limits of your faith. Recognize temptation. When you give in, go with your eyes wide open and understand the consequences of your choice. Better yet…
- PLAN – to avoid those things that tempt you. Don’t go where they are. Don’t stay when they show up. Don’t watch, listen, look, flirt with, or entertain the notion. Decide beforehand how you will respond when tempted. Rehearse your reaction. Practice your reply. Decide now.
- REPENT & FORGIVE – you will face temptation. Sometimes you will give in. Be quick to repent. Once you’ve repented forgive yourself. God has. Now go do better.
- PRACTICE – practice is the systematic process of overcoming small failures and reinforcing right choices. Make righteous choices in small bites. Do the simple right thing in this moment before things get too overwhelming to attempt. Like learning to drink coffee, take small sips before you gulp. When you get burned by temptation clean up the mess and try again. Practice is how we improve.
Temptation doesn’t have to run your life. God will help you overcome.
Thank you for your forgiveness. Thank you for the Holy Spirit who fills my life, helps me along the way and convicts me of sin, righteousness and judgement. Today, fill me with your Spirit and the fruits of your Spirit. Protect me and my family from sin, temptation and harm. Remove my appetite for sin and replace it with a hunger and thirst for righteousness. Help me recognize temptation when I see it. Help me know what to do. Give me the strength and the courage to make the right choice. Help me do this for your glory and the good of myself and my family. Thank you.
I love you, in Jesus name –