Fighting Temptation or Fighting God?

When you’re spacing out in class… what do you think about? When you’re laying awake at night and can’t sleep, what are consumes your dreams: video games, music, your friends, a “friend,” good grades, sports, achievements, or some other fantasy?

Those dreams and desires say a lot about who we are and what we desire.

Mark Twain said, “A human being has a natural desire for more than what he needs.” Whether it’s money, food, pleasure, whatever… we want as much of something as we can get.

But when good things becomes obsessions, they begin to control us. They become obsessions. We can even become prisoners to our own desires. We need to learn to say “No!” to ourselves, keeping good desires within healthy boundaries while refusing to entertain our bad desires which can cause us harm.

The Fireplace
If sex is like fire, then marriage is the fireplace. When fire leaves the boundaries of the fireplace, don’t be surprised if you get burned. See other posts from this conversation: Sex, Intimacy, & Healthy Boundaries, and  Secret Struggles & Building an Army (because no one needs to struggle alone). 

Thinking About Temptation
Temptation isn’t sinful. We all face temptations of many kinds. Pride, selfishness, lust, bitterness, gossip, anger, an unforgiving spirit, etc. Jesus himself was tempted!

“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.”
Hebrews 4:15, ESV

When you’re tempted, how do you respond?

  • Do you fight your temptation with the help of the Holy Spirit?
  • Or do you fight the Holy Spirit and embrace your temptation?

Do you believe and trust that what God has for you is better than what the world offers? Really… do you believe that?

Following Jesus, not your Desires

Luke 9.23

  • Wage War Against Your Sin. Don’t settle for a cease-fire. War against your sin. Just because you want it doesn’t mean it’s good or right. Really, if we can’t learn self-denial then we’re far more interested in following our own desires than following Jesus.
  • Take up the Mission of Christ. The Christian’s mission is centered around the cross. Most centrally, it’s about the cross of Jesus Christ and the salvation that was accomplished there. But following Jesus may also lead you to your own cross, to your own suffering and rejection. If the world hated Jesus and strung him up, we shouldn’t expect to be well-received and accepted.
  • Obey the Word of God. Will you follow and obey Jesus, even if he leads you to be rejected by the world? Obedience to the Word of God isn’t a very popular thing… it never has been. It’s not easy, and it’s not comfortable. When you face temptation, will you obey God, or will you follow your own desires?

What if I Don’t Desire God? 

  1. Don’t take the Gospel for granted. Remember the message of the Gospel: That your sin may be forgiven through faith in Jesus Christ, who paid the penalty of your sin through his death, and who won the victory through his resurrection. This is glorious. When we stop and remember how amazing this promise is, it should truly take our breath away.
  2. Look at the competition in your heart. Look at what other desires are competing with God in your heart… and ask yourself, “What type of person will these other desires make me?” Is that the man/woman you want to be? Think about the long-run, and consider what today’s desires mean for who you’ll be a few years from now.
  3. Stop listening to yourself and start preaching to yourself. Talk to yourself more often. Don’t listen to your feelings, listen to your faith.
  4. Prayerfully ask God to change your heart. Are you praying for God to show himself to you? Seek the Lord and ask him to soften your heart to desire him more than you desire these other things. Only God can change the heart… invite him to do just that!

As we close this conversation about The Fireplace, I want to encourage you to remember that intimacy is found most through faith in Jesus Christ, not through sex with another person. When relationships help us grow in intimacy with God, we grow in intimacy with each other… and sex isn’t a shortcut to intimacy. Instead, sex can actually be destructive when healthy boundaries are removed.

Honestly consider what gets your attention. When temptation comes your way, you will choose to fight temptation through the strength of the Holy Spirit who is active and at work in you… or you’ll choose to fight the Holy Spirit so you can continue to entertain sinful desire. The choice is yours, but I pray that God will open your eyes to the conviction that God is ultimately worth your self-denial.

 

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