The Need for Power
The Lord Jesus Himself stated that “the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” This does not excuse sin; it warns us the be prepared. How can we find the moral power to say “no” to temptation? Good news–God’s Holy Spirit is omnipotent (all powerful), and He lives in all believers! (Rom. 8:11; Eph. 1:13, 14). So we have this directive, “And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit” (Eph. 5:18).
As we confess known sin, we are to ask God for wisdom to steer clear of avoidable temptation. As the Lord instructed in the model prayer, “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” Here is the key to empowerment: “I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh” (Gal. 5:16). One aspect of the fruit of the spirit is self control (Gal 5:23).
The power to choose God’s will comes from Christ in us, the hope of glory (Col. 1:27), yet we will still live under our obedience potential if we neglect the wisdom of applying appropriate strategies for tapping into His power to overcome temptations. One writer compared the difference between power and strategy with the tactics of a battleship. There is plenty of power on board the ship, but how is it deployed? Are depth charges launched against enemy aircraft? or guns fired against submarines? Of course not. Even so the power should be harnessed by the appropriate strategy.
1. Victory over the devil
We defeat Satan by quoting the Holy Scriptures in faith.
In the listing of the armor of God, the offensive weapon is the “sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God” (Eph. 6:17). Our Lord Jesus exemplified this strategy during His contest with Satan in the wilderness. Each time the devil tempted Jesus, Christ responded with the Scriptures: “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God’… It is written again, ‘You shall not tempt the LORD your God’ …Away with you, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the LORD your God, and Him only you shall serve'” (Matt. 4:1-10). If Christ used this weapon can we afford to neglect it? Memorize and use key verses that correspond with areas that the Enemy uses to challenge your faith.
2. Victory over the world
We triumph over the world’s pressures through vibrant, personal worship of God.
Instead of letting the world press us into its mold, we are to renew our minds with God’s Word (Rom. 12:2). The wise believer will read the whole Bible devotionally for his or her whole life. As we thank God in all circumstances, we are shielded from greed (1 Thess. 5:18). As we praise the Lord we pledge allegiance to His Kingdom and remind ourselves that we are pilgrims passing through this world, which is not our home. “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Phil. 3:20). As we turn out eyes upon Jesus and look full in His wonderful face, “then the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.”
Moses demonstrated the wisdom of living by the values of God’s eternal kingdom: “choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt; for he looked to the reward” (Heb. 11:25,26). Praise and worship the Lord to daily refocus the your eyes on Christ, your Savior, Lord, and Life. “Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory” (Col 3:2-4).
3. Victory over the flesh
Look for the exit!
The strategy to overcome the sins of the flesh is found in 2 Timothy 2:22: “Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.” It may not sound sophisticated, but it works! Joseph didn’t hang around Mrs. Potipher when she tried to seduce him. When she grabbed his shirt, he left it behindand ran! (Gen. 39:8-12).
In a TV comedy, a country doctor is confronted by a patient who says he broke his arm in two places. The doc replied, “Well then, stay out of them places!”
When you pray to be led away from temptation, it includes the request for wisdom to avoid “them places.” Take a detour around all preventable means of enticement, especially regarding the misuse of your physical drives. Remember, sins of the flesh are deceptions; they offer illegitimate ways to meet legitimate needs. Esau preferred a bowl of lentils to his valuable birthright (Gen. 25:33). Sins of the flesh always “sell you out.” You end up forfeiting potential blessings!
In the concluding article we will glean additional guidelines for overcoming the tests of temptation.