“For we do not have a High Priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have One who has been tempted in every way, just as we are –yet was without sin.” Hebrews 4:15 (NIV)
Did you get that verse? “… tempted in every way … yet was without sin.” “Sure,” you say, “but He was Jesus, the Son of God! You can’t expect me to escape the snare of temptation like that, can you?” As impossible as it seems, particularly for the stubborn sins we’ve become too familiar with, the good news is that you and I can say no when temptation comes knocking. The Bible tells us in Titus 2:11-12, “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in this present age. …”
One old sage put it like this, “You can’t keep the birds of temptation from flying over your head, but you can keep them from building a nest in your hair.” (That is if you have hair. Still, you get the point, don’t you?)
Just like the thousands of poacher’s snares in the jungle, you and I will be faced with any number of temptations to trap us. Given our predisposition to sin, we would be powerless were it not for the weapons God has given the believer to overcome temptation. Let’s look at a couple of those weapons so we can be armed against temptation.
1. The Grace of God – It’s easy to think that grace only brings “salvation” in a past tense. But grace also gives us the power and desire to do God’s will in our present lives. According to the passage in Titus, Grace “… teaches us to say ‘No’ (to temptation). …” That’s why Peter encourages his readers to “grow in grace …” 2 Peter 3:18. Are you growing in grace? Are you a student of grace? Grace and mercy are not only reactive but proactive. Through grace, God gives me what I don’t deserve, forgiveness, and in His mercy, He doesn’t give me what I do deserve, judgment. Then, His grace supplies the power and desire, not only to say no to temptation, but to say yes to living a godly life – “… to live self-controlled, upright (not uptight), and godly lives in this present age.” Titus 2:12 (NIV)
Thank God for GRACE! When you have a desire to do God’s will in your life, that’s grace at work in you! When you say no to temptation, that’s grace showing up again! So, when temptation comes knocking on your door today, just ask Grace to answer it!
2. The Word of God – God not only gave us His grace to teach us to say, “No” to temptation, but He also gave us a very offensive weapon, “the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.” Ephesians 6:17 (NIV) How sharp is your sword? There’s really nothing wrong with the sword unless you leave it in the sheath. A Bible left on the shelf can’t protect your heart. Someone once said, “A dusty Bible leads to a dirty life.”
In Matthew 4, Jesus shows us the power of the Word of God for overcoming temptation when He was tempted by the devil. Each time the devil tempted Him, Jesus responded with “It is written …” Finally, Luke’s record says, the devil left him for a more “… opportune time.” Luke 4:13 (NIV) Though this would not be the last time Jesus would be tempted, there was never a time that He yielded to the temptation.
The more we read God’s Word and allow it to sink into our hearts, the stronger we become against the temptations that could trip us up. The Psalmist said, “How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to Your Word. … I have hidden Your Word In my heart that I might not sin against You.” Ps. 119: 9,11 (NIV) Fortify your faith with the power of God’s Word, and when temptation comes the Spirit of God will quicken you with the Word of God to overcome temptation. It will feel good to see the devil walk away from you, defeated, as he did Christ.