Three Steps in Defeating Temptation

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Everywhere you look, there is something sinful that is designed to appeal to your flesh. Strong temptation is everywhere, but Scripture offers three steps to take to defeat temptation.

“This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. 2 For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3 Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, 4 Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; 5 Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.” II Timothy 3:1-5 [Emphasis added]

Guess what? “Perilous times” are here! This passage of scripture in II Timothy seems to describe the age in which we currently live with incredible accuracy. With all the things that we have to contend with, we certainly need God’s help. In a world that seems to become more evil by the day, there is a need for some explicit direction from God.

Just 50 years ago, the level of temptation was not nearly as intimidating. But the enemy has sent an onslaught of sinful activities for humankind, including Christians, to deal with. From an array of alcoholic beverages to the most potent of drugs (crack, heroin, etc.), addictive substances are as easy to access as going down to the corner store to buy groceries. Illicit sex, gambling, and homosexuality are no longer confined to the red-light district of our major cities, but can be accessed by our children right in the sanctity of our homes through the Internet and our televisions (and how about regular television?). Our schools have become less rule-oriented and more violent. Everywhere you look, there is something sinful that is designed to appeal to your flesh. Strong temptation is everywhere.

“Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.” James 1:12

When I speak of strong temptation, I am not talking about something that you can just give up or walk away from just because you choose to. I am talking about something that takes real power to overcome, a struggle with choices, not just something that you have, but something that has you. It is the kind of problem that causes you to face and fight a powerful desire within and when it is all over—although you have obtained the victory, you have lost something in the battle—you have left something behind.

I believe King David reflected upon strong temptation in his life in Psalm 40 when he said:

“I waited patiently for the LORD; and he inclined unto me, and heard my cry. He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay…” [Emphasis added]

I was raised in the country in the early stages of my life and I can identify with “miry clay.” It was different from just mud. Clay was thick and would grab onto you. If you ever had your foot stuck in this clay, getting it out was a task. When you finally got your foot out, sometimes your shoes would be left behind.

Strong temptation is like this clay; you have to fight to get free and sometimes you lose something in the process. You may have to lose years, friends, money, reputation and relationships on your way to freedom—but whatever it takes, it is worth it to be free and right with God.

Strong temptation is difficult to deal with. Before it is all over, you may have cried more tears than you would have ever imagined. It may have worked on your last nerves, requiring you to grapple with insurmountable levels of frustration. Dealing with strong temptation may be the foundation for overwhelming degrees of depression. It could be the reason for you to work through the guilt and shame that caused you to attend copious pity parties. Before it is all over, you will have experienced the disappointment and pain of relapse and battled doubt and unbelief with every fiber of your faith (while almost giving up over a thousand times) but finally overcoming by the power of God and the will to believe.

There is a real process for real victory. “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.”  I Corinthians 10:13 [Emphasis added]

There are three steps found in St. James 4:7 concerning defeating temptation:

“Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”

These steps are (1) Submitting Yourself to God, (2) Putting Up a Strong Resistance and (3) Letting the Devil (and temptation) Flee From You. 

An excerpt from “Three Steps in Defeating Temptation” by Lyle Dukes, pgs. 9–11

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