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What is temptation? There are a lot of misconceptions and lies we tell ourselves about temptation because it's just so....tempting. We either ignore the harm of our habits or tell ourselves we can stop when we're ready. The problem is temptation is not one thing; it's a spiritual issue. God tells us to have discipline because He wants us to reap good things. Evil wants us to give in to our desires, no matter the consequences. Temptation shows itself physically as our brains react to dopamine, which pushes us to accept what feels good. It could be a physical addiction, a social pattern, or something as simple as checking our phones every time they light up. Temptation brings a feeling of lost control. We can't outrun it in this world, but we can prepare for it and turn from it.
Essentially, temptation is anything that draws us away from God. There are obvious cases when we're tempted to do something clearly wrong (Ex. adultery or abusing others). Even then, evil can convince us to justify our actions. Then there are the habits that seem okay but chip away at our mental, spiritual, and physical health. We fail to put on the right armor when we pretend our temptations don't exist. We ignore the protection that prayer provides. Accountability requires us to admit our weaknesses and accept God's help. God strengthens us through our battles, and the challenge for us is to show up.
Here are four simple ways we can guard our hearts in a chaotic world:
Pray, pray, pray. Praying when we don't feel like it is a life-changing habit. We don't want God's conviction when we're ashamed or reluctant to change our behavior. Yet that's precisely why we need it and His comfort. Even when it seems like a one-way line, we open ourselves to wisdom when we trust God with our minds.
Know God's Word. The more we study the Bible, the more we learn about God and His design for us. It's not about memorizing every verse; it's about spending time with Him and seeking His direction when we have questions. The Bible doesn't address every temptation in our lives, but it shows us how to focus our hearts and habits.
Accept feedback. It's instinctual to get defensive when people criticize our habits or character traits, and sometimes they do have a selfish agenda. However, objectivity sheds light on patterns that affect our lives without us noticing. We are made for community and support makes a difference! Your value is not in the approval of others, but the way you reflect your principles is important.
Stop comparison. Everyone else could be doing it and thriving, but how does it affect your heart? The one way to identify and overcome temptation is to follow Jesus. The right decision is the one that will lead you toward Him.
Temptation can be a test, but it is coming from the dark side. God only wants good for us, and He doesn't taunt us. It's dangerous to throw ourselves into temptation, thinking we'll prove our faithfulness through victory. God allows us to face temptation, but His goal is for us to trust Him, not prove our strength. He doesn't push us; we behave ourselves away from Him. Evil wants our faith to waver so that we depend on our own abilities. God wants us to know the peace of His will. Jesus knows our struggles because He faced temptation too. Matthew, Mark, and Luke tell us that the Holy Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness to fast for 40 days (Intense, I know!). Then, Satan tempted Jesus through a series of tests. Jesus resisted temptation by wholly trusting in His Father rather than showing off His power. That is the best example we have of how to handle temptation. Unlike Jesus, we will sometimes fail, but God gives us a fresh start. We can always choose to trust Him, no matter how many times we've messed up. He sees our future when we see the temptation in front of us. It won't be easy, but the more we give our will to Him, the more we'll gain abundant freedom.
Written Content Coordinator at Sun Valley Community Church. An avid writer since the age of 5, who loves to explore new ideas and places. Inspired by Jesus, books, and travel.