What does it really mean to "resist" temptation? Marian Jordan, Ellis from Redeemed Girl Ministries, advises how to be the victor in the battle for purity.
It seems like each year I resolve to eat healthier and take better care of my body. Friends, let me just say, the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak! I recall making the decision to banish gluten once and for all from my diet because, according to my doctor, gluten is my 'Kryptonite' and to eliminate it would make me a far healthier woman. Most of the time, I’m pretty good at saying “no” to bread, pizza and the other major players. But nearly EVERYTHING CONTAINS GLUTEN! I remember sitting at a table with my favorite chocolate cake; I had a big decision… to give in and eat a piece or to resist the temptation?
Today, we will study what it means to “resist.” The word “resist” implies a choice of our will. The human will is the place of decision. When the temptation arises to choose God’s way or to choose sin, we, with our human wills, make that decision. The decision we face in each moment is to believe God and to trust that His commands are for our good. At that point we can choose to walk in obedience, or to believe the Father of Lies (Satan), who desires to lead us to destruction, and give in to the temptation.
The primary battle we face during temptation is the fact that Satan is crafty. He targets temptations that appeal directly to the desire of our sinful nature for pleasure, prominence, power and prestige. As I said in the previous post, he entices us to meet legitimate needs in illegitimate ways (i.e., for the girl who desires love, she is tempted to use her body physically to achieve her desire). While this is a false intimacy and sex outside of marriage leads to destruction, Satan paints a beautiful picture in our minds and tempts with thoughts that say “sex is no big deal” and “he will love me if…” This is the nature of temptation, but the good news for a Christ-follower, who is indwelled by the Holy Spirit, is that we have the power to resist our enemy.
One of the greatest examples of how our enemy operates is seen in the life of Jesus. Matthew 4 tells of Jesus’ journey into the wilderness where Satan tempted him. The key to this narrative is found in the opening verses.
Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry—Matthew 4:1-2.
Girls, it is vital for us to note that Jesus was tempted in the place of His hunger. While Jesus was hungry for food, notice what the enemy did.
The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread”—Matthew 4:3.
It seems like such a little thing, but Satan was enticing Jesus to use his power as the Son of God to meet his earthly needs without relying on the His Father. Ultimately, this would have been a lack of faith. Our enemy does the same to us. When we are hungry for love, acceptance, importance, recognition or anything the human heart can desire, he tempts us to satisfy this hunger in a way that is disobedient to our heavenly Father.
Thankfully, Jesus is not only our Savior; He is also our example and He empowers us to resist Satan just as He did. Notice what Jesus did in the wilderness when he was tempted.
Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God’”—Matthew 4:4.
Quoting from the Old Testament, Jesus used a Scripture to battle Satan’s temptation. The Word of God is powerful and it is Truth. When Satan speaks his deceptive lies, our weapon against his schemes is the Sword of the Spirit, which Ephesians 6 tells us is the Word of God. While in the wilderness, Jesus faced three temptations. Each time, He resisted Satan by speaking Scripture out loud. We can effectively resist temptation in the same way Jesus did: by countering Satan’s seductive lies by shining the light of God’s truth upon them.
Recently, I spoke at a conference for college women. During my talk I discussed the nature of temptation and how our enemy, who desires to kill, steal and destroy, will use our heart’s desires for love and intimacy to lead us into sexual sin. As part of my message I taught the women the power found in God’s Word to resist him and to strengthen our wills to choose God’s best. Concluding the message I confessed to the women gathered that I, too, was in this battle with them. As a woman of God, living in our culture that bombards us with sex at every turn, I fully understand the battle women face to walk in purity. While dating my fiancé, I’ve heard every lie in Satan’s arsenal about sex. While I can praise God and say by His grace that we have walked in purity, that doesn’t mean we have not been tempted.
A few months into our dating I found myself seriously struggling with thoughts, which I knew were contrary to God’s Word, and thoughts, which were temptations from the enemy to lead me to rebellion. In the midst of this battle, the Lord reminded me of how He responded to Satan’s schemes by saying, “Marian, pick up your sword…it’s time to fight.”
So I did. I bought a small ringed note cardholder and began searching my Bible for every verse I could find on sexual purity. I would write it onto a card and meditate on it throughout the day. Then, when those thoughts and lies would enter my mind, I would speak out loud, just as Jesus did, the Word of God.
For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ—2 Corinthians 10:3-5.z
Girlfriends, there is power in the Word! Our enemy will flee, just as he did when Jesus rebuked him. We can demolish his lies with God’s truth. My challenge to you is this: if you are facing a battle, take up your sword. Open your Bible and find out what God’s word says and resist the enemy! Many of you have asked for the scriptures I use in my battle for purity. Here is a list:
1 Corinthians 6: 18-20
1 Peter 5: 8-9
Revelation 2: 20-24
1 Corinthians 10:12-14
2 Peter 2: 19-22
1 Peter 2: 10-12
1 Corinthians 3:16
Ephesians 5: 15-17
Romans 13: 12-14
1 Thessalonians 4:3-8
2 Corinthians 10:3-5
2 Timothy 2: 21
2 Peter 1: 3-4
Romans 6: 12-14
1 Peter 5:8-9
Whew! What a list! I can praise God and say that these truths have demolished the enemy’s lies. I challenge you to make your own note cards and meditate on God’s Word so you can walk in victory!