Temptation Refs

What temptations do you find most difficult? Alcohol? Temper? Immoral thoughts? Laziness? The Bible challenges us to control and direct our desires towards doing good rather than evil. Everyone is responsible for their own thoughts and must learn to control them.

James 1:12–16

James wrote about the path that leads to sin. He discusses enduring trials and concentrating on doing the things that God commands and excluding the things that he forbids. Part of this process is to overcome temptation. The person who aims to please God will think and act in right ways even when initially faced with an opportunity to do wrong.

1. James describes the path that leads to sin.

Temptation → Sin → Death

What is the alternative path we should follow instead when faced with a desire to sin?
2. How can we avoid the path of desire leading on to sin and death?
3. James describes a person as “dragged away and enticed” by their own desire. What does this mean?

Evil thoughts
A correct view of the “battle between good and evil” helps us to learn about temptation. The Bible states that

“The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9)

and “For from within, out of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts, . . . All these evils come from inside and make a man
‘unclea n’.” (Mark 7:21–23)

The source of evil
Jeremiah 17:9; Mark 7:14–23; James 1:14.
Help with temptation
Matthew 26:41; 1 Corinthians 10:12–14; Philippians 2:13;
Hebrews 2:14–18; 4:14–16; James 1:5; Jude 24–25.
Flee temptation
Genesis 39:10; 2 Timothy 2:22.
Instructions to godly thinking
Psalm 1:2; Matthew 5:27–30; 2 Corinthians 10:5; Philippians 4:8–9.

Your evil thoughts belong to you; they are not put in your mind by someone or something else. Recognizing the source of sinful
thinking is a good start towards overcoming it.

The Bible teaches that we are responsible for our own thoughts.
The things we see can influence our thoughts, but the Christian is instructed to control those thoughts and to desire to do good.

The Lord’s Prayer contains the plea “lead us not into temptation”. That is, we are asking God to keep us away from influences and environments that we find tempting. Of course, what may lead to temptation for one person may not have the same effect on others.

This prayer also shows how we should expect to fight sin. We should ask for God’s help to overcome temptation and to be led
away from circumstances that will cause us difficulty in serving God.

God allows us to be tempted because it tests our faith and desire to serve him. But he prevents the temptations becoming
too much for us. So whatever you are fighting against, you know you can overcome it with God’s help.

[He] is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy. (Jude 24–25) See also 1 Corinthians 10:13

Pure minds
The book of Psalms begins

Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. (Psalm 1:1)

Again, this shows we need to avoid ungodly environments where we will be confronted with temptations. Psalm 1 goes on to say

But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. (Psalm 1:2)

In other words, we are to replace ungodly thinking with godly thinking. The key to overcoming temptation is to fill our minds with things of God. Paul said “we take captive every thought to 2 Corinthians 10:5 make it obedient to Christ”. If we are to master temptation, we must learn to control our minds, and think about good things.

Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. . . And the God of peace will be with you. (Philippians 4:8–9)

Temptations come from within—our own thoughts. Our surroundings can and do influence our thoughts, therefore we should be very careful. Believers are instructed to follow the example of Jesus and overcome temptations. One way to do this is to replace the temptation to sin with a desire to do what is right and with godly thoughts. Remember that God wants people to pray for help, and he is willing to provide help.

1. What Bible passages can you find that refer to good desires?

2. Job suffered the loss of all his children, all his livestock, and was afflicted with painful sores all over his body.
What temptations do you think he experienced as a result of these terrible experiences?

3. Read Job 2:9–10. Job’s wife urged him to curse God. In what ways can our friends lead us into temptation? How can we best overcome the temptations in these situations?

4. Read Genesis 39:1–12. How did Joseph cope with temptation? What does this teach us about how we should cope with our temptations?

5. Read Matthew 5:27–30. What does this passage teach us about temptation? Think of some examples of temptations you face where this passage can be applied.

1. Think of some examples of things that evoke a strong reaction from you but which have no impact on someone you know. How can you use this to help win your personal battles against temptations?
2. Can you think of an incident where God has led you away from circumstances that may have resulted in temptation for you?
3. When faced with temptation in the wilderness, Jesus quoted Bible passages to strengthen his resolve not to sin. List some Bible verses that will be helpful in overcoming your temptations.
4. Consider the steps towards overcoming temptation listed in the box below.

Overcoming temptation

Step 1. Watch: identify your major weaknesses in temptation
Step 2. Run: get right away from whatever it is that is causing your temptation
Step 3. Pray: ask God’s help in overcoming your temptation problem.

(a) Write down the two or three sins that you find most difficult to avoid.
(b) Think of a strategy to help you ‘run’ from these temptations. For example, if it is alcohol, don’t go anywhere where you will be tempted and don’t mix with people who will lead you into temptation. If it is laziness, change your daily schedule so that you are less likely to fall for the same problem.
(c) Ask God to help you overcome your temptations.

• Letters to George and Jenny by Harry Whittaker (published by Biblia, 1988). Chapter 38, 3 pages. A short letter with advice on overcoming temptation.

9. Prayer
14. Holiness and obedience
17. Sin
24. The Devil and Satan: Old Testament
25. The Devil and Satan: New Testament
63. Friends