2 Samuel 11: 1-27, Matthew 4, Hebrews 2: 18, Romans 8: 1
That's the only excuse I could think of when confronted by a very angry sister after eating a piece of chocolate cake she had left in the fridge labelled 'do not touch'. It was a pretty rubbish excuse I know, but there was something about that piece of chocolate cake that made me abandon my usual self control and set myself on a course of reckless disobedience toward her instructions.
I hadn't set out to eat the cake, to deliberately do the wrong thing, but when I opened the fridge, there it was! Temptation led me to linger with the fridge door open for a while. I thought I would just look at the cake, and then I wondered what it might smell like. so I took it out of the fridge and just breathed in that chocolate. Boy it was good! Then I thought maybe if I just had a small taste and put it back, that wouldn't be too bad. No one would notice. would they?
Well before I knew it, the cake was gone, my sister stood glaring in front of me and the crumbs around my mouth labelled me guilty!
That story is just about a piece of chocolate cake, but you know, it's not really that different from the story of David and Bathsheba. I'm sure David didn't set out to deliberately sin against God and murder one of his best men, but he let temptation get the better of him and wound up doing something he regretted big time.
So, how should we deal with temptation so we don't end up in the same place? Here are a few tips.
1.) Don't be surprised when it hit's ya!
Being a Christian doesn't magically keep you away from temptation. Even Jesus was tempted (Matthew 4), so we can hardly expect not to run into it.
2.) Ditch the guilt trip
So often we feel guilty when we face temptation and spend the next few hours beating ourselves up about it. Well guess what! There is no need to. It is not the temptation itself, which is sin (otherwise Jesus couldn't have been without sin), it's how we deal with it. So, do yourself a favour and instead of sounding the bell for a mass boxing match against yourself, ditch the guilt trip and simply thank God for bringing the temptation to your attention.
3.) Plan your escape route!
Just like in every good action movie, when we face temptation, there is always an escape route. So, next time you are tempted, don't panic, just chill for a bit and ask God to show you the escape plans. A couple of really helpful things you can include in most escape routes are
· Know your weaknesses & keep yourself out of situations that feed it
So, it might not be chocolate, but whatever it is we all have weaknesses, areas of temptation we struggle with. If we work out what those weaknesses are then we can try and manage them better.
· Spill the beans.
All this stuff is hard to do by yourself, so find a good Christian mate you can be accountable to and let them know what temptations you are struggling with. Getting them to pray with you is also a fantastic help!
4). Ask for God's strength.
The tough thing about temptation is that even when you know the escape route, it's not always easy to take it. I guess that's why it's called temptation; because a big part of you actually wants to do that thing you know is wrong. That's where we really need God's help. Hebrews 2: 18 says that because Jesus was tempted, he can help us when we are being tempted!
5). If you stuff up, don't give up.
Even after all this, sometimes you will still stuff up. The important thing to remember then is that if we are in a relationship with God, He will never condemn us (Romans 8: 1). So, when you stuff up, don't give up, simply tell God, ask for His forgiveness and ask Him to help you out next time you face that temptation!The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.
Regional Director - Midlands
View all Life Files by Fiona Bridges