August 20th

Temptations and Living for God

11For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, 12teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, 13looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.   Titus 2:11-14 

God’s grace brought us salvation through Jesus Christ.  That same grace also teaches us how we are to live once we have placed faith in Jesus.  Paul tells us what God’s grace teaches us:

·        To live soberly, righteously and godly, looking forward to Christ’s return to earth

·        To deny ungodliness and worldly lusts

·        To remember why Jesus gave his life for us 

Denying ungodliness and worldly lusts is very important.  It highlights the choices we have every day.  Will we give in to the temptations, or will we deny them?  God gave us the power to choose and we can resist the seemingly irresistible urges, especially when we call on him for help when under temptation (1 Corinthians 10:13). 

Resisting temptations will be much easier if we take steps to cut the temptation off before it grabs hold of our eyes and thoughts.  Using the door analogy, if we sense temptation knocking on the door of our hearts, we have the initial decision of whether to open the door, or to ignore it or to send it away.  However, how many of us open the door out of curiosity and let the temptation come in to the foyer of our heart so we can play with it a little?  We kid ourselves if we think we can play with it for awhile and then send it out of our hearts. Once we let it in and let our eyes feast on it and our thoughts fantasize about it, the damage is done.   

If we can train ourselves to reject the temptation at that moment it whispers to us, we’ll be much more likely to pass on unaffected.  For example, we can simply say, “I rebuke that temptation in Jesus’ name,” while we take appropriate action to shut off the temptation if possible (e.g. turn off computer or TV; look away, etc.). 

We can also quote a verse related to the temptation, just as Jesus demonstrated in Luke 4 when he was tempted by the devil.  For example, when I’m using a search engine and am tempted to click on a link to a sexually perverse site, I can recite Psalm 101:3-5: “I will set before my eyes no vile thing. The deeds of faithless men I hate; they will not cling to me. Men of perverse heart shall be far from me; I will have nothing to do with evil.”  If the temptation persists, I can quote some additional verses until it subsides (see temptation verses). 

Jesus died for our sin, and he was raised from the dead to live for God, so that we too will live for God in righteousness.  Jesus did this also to purify us and set us apart for himself as his special people who will be zealous for good works.  By doing good works, we bring glory to God, and bear witness to those who don’t yet know God.   

If you have entertained temptations in your eyes and thoughts, you can confess your sin, turn away from it and start living for God today.  If it’s been awhile since you felt the Lord teaching you through his grace, you can also invite God to begin teaching you anew.   

(see Temptation Study)

Questions for further thought:

Prayer:

“Heavenly Father, thank you for sending the Holy Spirit to lead and train me in how to live for you.  Thank you for helping me to resist temptations, closing the door to them before they entice and engage me.  I confess the sin in my life that has polluted my eyes and mind: _______ (specify). I turn from that sin and now seek to live for you. Please renew my training through the Holy Spirit and your grace each day.  Thank you for making it possible for me to live a changed life, transformed into a new creation!  I praise you, Lord!  In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.”