DEAL WITH TEMPTATION!
Azariah Jerry Manuel
All of us face temptations of various kinds in different ways in our everyday life. The modern, quickly changing world around us throws up so many things that fight for our love. If we are not careful and are not on our guard we will surely succumb. We need to deal with temptation right in the eye and at that very moment. Jesus has promised us a life of victory and hence we need not keep failing each time temptations confront us.
Carefully read the ANTHEM approach to deal with temptations.
A - Avoid as much as is possible and reasonable the sights and situations that arouse unfitting desire. I say 'possible and reasonable' because some exposure to temptation is inevitable. And I say 'unfitting desire' because not all desires are bad. We know when they are unfitting and unhelpful and are on their way to becoming enslaving. We know our weaknesses and what triggers them. 'Avoiding' is a Biblical strategy. "Flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness" (2Tim.2:22). "Make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires" (Rom.13:14). You cannot stop a bird flying over your head but you definitely can avoid it from building a nest on your head!
N - Say No to every lustful thought within five seconds. And say it with the authority of Jesus Christ. "In the name of Jesus, No!" You don't have much more than five seconds. Give it more unopposed time than that, and it will lodge itself with such force as to become almost immovable. Say it out loud if you dare. Be tough and warlike. As John Owen said, "Be killing sin or it will be killing you." Strike fast and strike hard. "Resist the devil, and he will flee from you" (Jas.4:7). Do not give the devil a foothold!
T - Turn your mind forcefully toward Christ. "Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things" (Col.3:2). Saying no will not suffice. You must move from defence to offence. Fight fire with fire. Attack the promises of sin with the promises of Christ. Lustful desires are deceitful. They lie. They promise more than they can deliver. The Bible calls them 'passions of your former ignorance' (1Pet.1:14). Only fools yield. "All at once he follows her, as an ox goes to the slaughter" (Prov.7:22). Instead, we need to make efforts to "put to death whatever belongs to our earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed" (Col.3:5). In our own strength we will not be able to fight it. We need to ask God for His grace. "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness" (2Cor.12:9). "It (the grace of God) teaches us to say no to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age" (Tit.2:11).
H - Hold the promise and the love of Christ firmly in your mind until they push the other desires out. "Fix your eyes on Jesus" (Heb.3:1;12:2). Here's where many fail they give in too soon. They say, "I tried to push it out, and it didn't work." I ask, "How long did you try? How hard did you exert your mind?" "In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood" (Heb,12:4). Hold it. Hold it. Hold it! Don't let it go! Keep holding it! How long? As long as it takes. Fight! For Christ's sake, fight till you win! Remember that God will help you in this fight. "No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it" (1Cor.10:13).
E - Enjoy your relationship with Jesus, every moment of your life. One reason why we keep struggling in our fight against sin is because we are not equipped with God's word and do not delight in it. Look at what the psalmist has to say, "How can a young man keep his ways pure? By living according to your word. I have hidden Your word in my heart that I might not sin against You"(Psa.119:9,11). The psalmist delighted in Godís word (Psalm119:16,24,35,47,70,77,143,174). If you have only a little taste for God's word, these competing pleasures will triumph. It is very important that we meditate and memorise scripture. "Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart" (Psa.37:4).
M - Move into a useful activity away from idleness and other vulnerable behaviours. Lust grows fast in the garden of leisure. Find a good work to do, and do it with all your might. "Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord" (Rom.12:11). "Be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord" (1Cor.15:58). Abound in work. Get up and do something. Sweep a room. Hammer a nail. Write a letter. And do it for Jesus' sake. You were made to manage and create. Christ died to make you "zealous for good deeds" (Tit.2:14). Displace deceitful lusts with a passion for good deeds. It is good to keep yourself occupied with constructive things which will enhance both the spiritual and secular aspects of your life.
Dear friend, the next time temptation knocks on your door, raise the ANTHEM and with God to help, I am sure victory will be yours. I would encourage you to memorise the scriptures mentioned in this article and keep them written on your heart. You need to practise every day to fight temptations. If you fall, do not get discouraged, for the Bible tells us that we have a high priest (Jesus Christ) who has been tempted in every way possible and was yet without sin, and He is able to sympathise with our weakness. He intercedes for us with the Father and is ready to help us stand up again.