Dealing with temptation can be difficult, but it is essential for achieving our goals and living a fulfilling life. The power of temptation comes from its ability to get us to act in ways we would prefer not to act, and each person's temptations are unique. Temptation can come in many forms, from unhealthy food to procrastination, and it can be easy to give in and fall back into bad habits. What might be benign for someone, say eating that extra piece of chocolate cake, can be life-altering for someone else. The goal is never to judge our own temptations and those of others but to identify them and seek to overcome them. However, we can learn to manage and overcome temptation by developing a few strategies and techniques.
In Matthew 26:41, Jesus tells his disciples to "Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” This passage reminds us that we have the power to resist temptation through prayer and being vigilant. Being present and paying attention to your thoughts and feelings can help you be more aware of when you are tempted and take steps to resist it.
- Identify the source of temptation.
As you increase in watchfulness, you will grow in your ability to identify the people, places, and things that trigger your temptations. Understanding what triggers your temptations can help you to be more aware of them and take steps to avoid them. It could be something simple, like the location of a vending machine at work, or something more complex, like feeling stressed or anxious. Only as we become aware of what triggers our temptations can we build self-control to avoid them.
- Build Self Control
Self-control is the ability to control one's actions, emotions, and desires rather than being controlled by them. This fruit of the spirit is a crucial aspect of Christian living as it allows us to resist temptations and make choices that align with God's will. We develop self-control through the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives, allowing us to resist temptations and make choices that align with God's will.
- Seek support
Whom we surround ourselves with can have a tremendous impact on our behaviors. Our parents knew this when they tried to get us to hang out with well-behaved people and avoid people who were bad influences. Small groups, such as Bible study or accountability groups, can play an essential role in helping individuals avoid temptation. In addition, being part of a small group can provide a supportive environment for individuals to share their struggles with temptation and receive encouragement and guidance from others.
Ultimately, dealing with temptation is a continuous process and will require a lot of patience and determination. The good news is that we have the example of Jesus Christ, tempted just as we are, and the power of the Holy Spirit available to us. We are not held captive by our desires and actions but are freed from them to live lives that are honor to God and reflect who we want to be in the world. The choice is yours as to whether you are ready to move forward or not.
View a sermon from Pastor Kevin on Jesus' Temptation in the Wilderness.