Passing the Tests of Temptation, Part 4

Additional Guidelines

1. Recognize your essential nature in Christ.

In Romans chapter 7, Paul observed that when the child of God chooses to sin, he does not act consistently with his essential nature; he acts contrary to it! “Now if I do what I will not to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me” (Rom. 7:20). Does this mean that the believer is not responsible for sin? That “the devil made me do it?” No! However, note that in our essential nature we, “… delight in the law of God according to the inward man [our spirit that is united to Christ]” (Romans 7:22; see Eph. 2:10; 1 Cor. 6:17; 2 Cor. 5:17]. If we view our essential nature as sinful, we are prone to roll over and play dead (to righteous choices).

But what about verses like Jeremiah 17:9? “The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it?” In New Covenant terms, this is applicable to the flesh, not the believer’s spirit. The apostle Paul admonishes us to “… put on the new man [the sanctified spirit in the believer] which was created [at conversion] according to God, in true righteousness and holiness” (Eph. 4:24). If we correctly reckon ourselves dead to sin, alive to God, and essentially saints, we are inclined to choose God’s good, acceptable and perfect will (1 Cor. 1:2; Rom. 12:2). When a pig falls into the mud it’s delighted in its native environment, but when a sheep falls into the mud, it wants freedom. Mud is not its native environment (2 Pet. 2:22). Believer, you’re a sheep, so walk with the Shepherd!

2. Prayer

The Lord Jesus warned His disciples in the Garden of Gethsemane, “…”Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matt. 26:41). Prayer maintains the flow of grace that protects us from the deceptive tactics of the world, flesh, and devil: “praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints” (Eph. 6:18).

3. Planning

The Model Prayer of our Lord contains the petition, “lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil [or “from the evil one”] (Matt. 6:13). This indicates a proactive posture. Like a military commander, we must anticipate the enemy’s tactics, and plan accordingly. Paul advises us, “But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts” (Romans 13:14).

Putting on Christ involves recognizing that we partake of His righteousness (Phil 3:9). We make no provision for the flesh when we plan strategically to appropriate God’s power and strategy in our vulnerable areas. In this example a boy made provision for the flesh:

“Son,” ordered a father, “Don’t swim in that canal.”

“OK, Dad,” he answered. But he came home carrying a wet bathing suit that evening.

“Where have you been?” demanded the father.

“Swimming in the canal,” answered the boy.

“Didn’t I tell you not to swim there?” asked the father.

“Yes, Sir,” answered the boy.

“Why did you?” he asked.

“Well, Dad,” he explained, “I had my bathing suit with me and I couldn’t resist the temptation.”

“Why did you take your bathing suit with you?” he questioned.

“So I’d be prepared to swim, in case I was tempted,” he replied. [5]

Your Heavenly Father knows best, so plan to honor His counsel.

4. Our High Priest

One of the blessings of having the Lord Jesus Christ as our High Priest is that He has retained his human nature. Christ can identify with us, since He experienced the full range of temptations. The writer of Hebrews declares,

“Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Heb. 4:14-16).

5. Our Fountain of Cleansing

Walking in the light includes wisely applying the principles we have been studying in the power of the Holy Spirit. Discipleship Journal observed, “Survey respondents noted temptations were more potent when they had neglected their time with God (81 percent) and when they were physically tired (57 percent). Resisting temptation was accomplished by prayer (84 percent), avoiding compromising situations (76 percent), Bible study (66 percent), and being accountable to someone (52 percent).[6]

Thankfully, if and when we succumb to enticements to intentionally sin, “we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (1 John 2:1b). As we maintain a daily walk of intimacy with God, He cleanses us from defilement:

“If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:6-9).

6. Accountability

Since 52 percent of respondents (mentioned above) said that this is helpful, consider the biblical basis for accountability: “…exhort one another daily, while it is called ‘Today,’ lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin” (Heb. 3:13). And Proverbs advises, “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another” (Prov. 27:17, RSV). One of the main advantages of support groups, like Weight Watchers, is accountability.

An overcomer of sexual addiction testified, “If you don’t want to get rid of the problem, confess it only to God. If you want to get rid of the problem, confess it to another person. And if you really want to get rid of the problem, keep yourself accountable!”[7]

Accountability, however, is sometimes substituted for the Holy Spirit’s role in sanctification. So don’t rely on the support group, rely on Christ in you (Gal. 2:20).

7. Have Confidence in God’s Provision

We can’t let past failures dupe us into doubting God’s victorious provision in Christ. We can have boldness that we are “more than conquerors through Him who Loved us” (Rom 8:37).

An article in the Denver Post reported how sheep are vulnerable to predators, whereas the llama’s boldness seems to protect them:

“Like many sheep ranchers in the West, Lexy Fowler has tried just about everything to stop crafty coyotes from killing her sheep. She has used odor sprays, electric fences, and ‘scare-coyotes.’ She has slept with her lambs during the summer and has placed battery-operated radios near them. She has corralled them at night, herded them at day. But the southern Montana rancher has lost scores of lambs–fifty last year alone. Then she discovered the llama–the aggressive, funny-looking, afraid-of-nothing llama … ‘Llamas don’t appear to be afraid of anything,’ she said. ‘When they see something, they put their head up and walk straight toward it. That is aggressive behavior as far as the coyote is concerned, and they won’t have anything to do with that … Coyotes are opportunists, and llamas take that opportunity away.'”

Even so, Scripture declares, “Resist the Devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7).

By the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit, we can pass the tests of temptation more and more. As we appropriate God’s provision in Christ we can join the triumphal procession of His overcomers: “Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place” (2 Cor. 2:14).

part 4 of 4

[1] Discipleship Journal, November / December, 1992.


[3] Andrew Murray, Covenants and Blessings, (Whitaker House), p.42-43.

[4] Al Broom, One to One Discipling (Church Dynamics)

[5] Charles Swindoll, One Step Forward, p. 85.

[6] Discipleship Journal, November / December, 1992.

[7] Steve Gallagher, At the Altar of Sexual Idolatry, (Pure Life Ministries) p.62

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