Tuesdays. Trash day. The bane of cyclists. Every Tuesday I have to navigate a barrage of city trashcans that line the sidewalks as I ride my bike to work. I live just far enough away that riding to work saves me some money and gives me a bit of a workout (since I never find time for the gym). So last week, I was riding to work, dodging those trashcans like a downhill skier, when I approached an obstacle. Before me stood a large can (the kind with the wheels on it) with just enough room between it and the upcoming mailbox that I could slip through. I weaved in… just then my front tire slipped off the curb preventing me from weaving back over to avoid the mailbox. BAM. I rolled the bike over so I didn’t smash the mailbox (that would be a federal offense you know) or it smashes me (more likely). Stupid trashcans. Luckily, I was not hurt, except for my pride as I could imagine the snickers of gawking drivers passing by.
Avoiding the temptations of life can sometimes be just as tricky as my Tuesday morning trek. Thank the Lord that we have a map to follow. In the scriptures, we see plenty of things to help us as we face temptations everyday. As I read the Word, I continually see that the power against temptation is not in ourselves! Remember this! We cannot do it on our own!
The power against the temptations in this life is not in our strength, but in our submission.
1. Submit to God: We have all heard “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you”. That is a false statement when standing alone! James 4:7 qualifies that statement with a power packed intro. “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” In submitting our will to the will of the Father we find strength. Only then does the devil recognize he is outmatched and flee. Trusting in our own strength, the devil sees easy prey. First submit your life, dreams, hopes, desires, everything to God, and watch the devil flee in moments of temptation!
2. Submit to the Word: When Jesus entered into public ministry He began with the temptation in the wilderness. Matthew 4:1 says, “Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.” In response to all the temptations He faced, what did He do? He quoted scripture! “But He answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” (Matt 4:4) The Word of God is powerful for defeating the temptations in our lives. Jesus understood this and we need to follow His example.
So take this practical step: Identify your areas of temptation and MEMORIZE several applicable verses to use in the moment of battle! Jesus didn’t whip out a scroll! He quoted from memory! Understand your limitations and submit to the power of scripture in your life.
3. Submit through Prayer: In an intense moment of Jesus life, the Garden of Gethsemane, He gave some advise to his closest friends who were there with him. “Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Mark 14:38) Unfortunately, these guys were weak. Jesus knew that through prayer we focus our lives on God’s will. In prayer, we connect to a strength not in ourselves. When you know temptation is coming saturate the situation in prayer. In the middle of temptation, prayer is a key to victory. Prayer does not change God, but it does change us. In your prayers, submit to His power in all situations.
4. Submit to Accountability: No one is perfect. We all fail. We fail more when we try to handle this life alone. God created us for community and created the church to be fulfillment of that need. James 5:16 says, “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” Our culture is one of isolation and loneliness. It tells us to hide our sin at all cost. The Bible tells believers to confess. In this confession we find brothers and sisters ready to support us in the healing process. We find freedom to allow the Gospel to penetrate to the deepest parts of us with its message of forgiveness and hope. With accountability we can tackle the struggles and temptations of this life and have a support system through it all. Do you have people with whom you can be real and honest? If not, find some. Submit your private life to those who will push you closer to Jesus.
Keep fighting the good fight! Hang in there. Let me leave you with one last verse that has sustained me on many occasions. 1 Corinthians 10:13 – “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.” It’s a promise. Take it to the bank.
Your fellow worker in the field, Adam