We are all tempted and prone to sin because none of us are perfect. King Solomon, one of the wisest men who ever lived, says it like this: “Not a single person on earth is always good and never sins (Ecclesiastes 7:20 [NLT]).” It’s part of human nature to ponder ideas such as: “I could easily change this number so that my hours are higher; no one would know.” Or maybe you’re more tempted with ideas like this: “She really gets on my nerves. If I tell my friends something horrible about her, I would feel so much better.” Maybe your child wouldn’t stop misbehaving, and you now regret what you said in anger.
We’re all tempted to cave into our flesh. It seems like there’s a daily assault on our senses. If you feel you are exempt because you’re Miss Goody Two-Shoes, you too are fighting the temptation of pride or deceit. None of us are exempt from temptation, but many of us cave or (to use a Biblical term) yield and then regret it later.
When we sin, we are going against what God wants for us. The Bible describes sin as transgression of the law of God (1 John 3:4) and rebellion against God (Deuteronomy 9:7; Joshua 1:18). Because we have inherited a sin nature from Adam, we commit individual, personal sins – everything from seemingly innocent untruths to murder. Often, when I’m tempted to sin, I realized that I am choosing to believe things that aren’t true. Below are three of those lies as well as the truths to combat them.
Lie #1: You’re no good so it doesn’t matter what you do. You’ve already dug a deep ditch, so nothing matters anymore.
Satan is crafty, and he knows just how to deceive you. He picks your weakness and magnifies it until you believe this lie. This particular lie starts with you doubting your worth, and it snowballs from there. When Satan deceived Eve, he played on her curiosity. She knew God’s command. She knew what He said, but the devil made her think that she misheard and was missing out. It’s an old tactic that is still used today.
If you’re feeling worthless, despondent, or depressed, the lie you hear may be one that further diminishes your worth. “You’re so stupid, just go ahead and cheat this one time so that you can look smart.” But the truth of the matter is, you don’t need to yield to sin to feel worthwhile. Eve recognized it as soon as she ate of the fruit.
“You are a worthwhile wonder.”
Rememberthat God calls you worthy. Like Eve, he formed your inward parts and knitted you together. Then he declared that you are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:13-16). You are a worthwhile wonder. Do you know what a wonder is? A wonder makes you ponder; a wonder is considered delightful; a wonder is a thing of inexplicable and admirable beauty. That’s exactly what you are – a worthwhile wonder.
If you feel that nothing you do matters, know that you matter to Him. You are precious in God’s eyes.
Truth: “Others were given in exchange for you. I traded their lives for yours because you are precious to me. You are honored, and I love you” (Isaiah 43:4 [NLT]).
Lie #2: Everyone is doing it.
There was a time in my professional life when I worked for a very difficult manager. She was lacking in all the skills that make a good manager: competence, empathy, problem-solving, and decision making. The workplace was ripe with conversations about her methods and the harm she caused. Truth be told it would have been quite easy to join the chorus because I was not exempt from her managerial flaws. But somehow I didn’t. I knew that though I could easily rationalize my response, I wouldn’t feel good doing so, and more importantly, I wouldn’t have an opportunity to impact the situation positively.
“…my response to this situation stood out like a bright light.”
Instead, I could share with a co-worker why I chose to respond differently. Without meaning to do so, my response to this situation stood out like a bright light. It spoke for itself, and I remembered the truth of Scripture: “So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin” (James 4:7 [NLT]). Everyone is not doing it, and the high road is usually the right road.
Truth: “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” (1 Corinthians 10:13 [KJV]).
Lie #3: Why not?
When Eve ate the fruit the serpent’s suggestion, she subconsciously asked and answered this question. When you slander your neighbor because she gets on your nerves, you’re doing the same thing. When you try to keep up with the Joneses, you’re envious of what they have even though you don’t need it. You’re saying, “why not?” as you make unnecessary purchases. When you seek vengeance or hold a grudge, again, it’s the same thing. It feels good in the moment; it might even seem justifiable, so why not?
But since no action is without consequence, this is a lie that will come back to haunt you. In the case of Eve, because of her disobedience, the unity between her, Adam, and God was severed. Her relationship with her husband changed. She and her female offspring would discover the pain of childbirth, and Adam would now have to work hard to provide food for his family. The entire human race suffered when she ate the fruit.
“…remember the truth of God’s Word and use it …”
The insidious nature of temptation will have a ripple effect just like it did for Eve. Your thoughts, actions, and behaviors, if not of God, will eat you up. You may say it doesn’t matter or no one will know, but your conscience (the Holy Spirit in you) will bother you until you pay attention. The next time you are tempted with this lie, remember the truth of God’s Word and use it to rebuff temptation.
Truth: “So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you” (James 4:7 [NLT]).
“….temptation always seems enticing at first.”
When the devil tempted Eve, she had nothing in her arsenal to resist Him. She did not quote scripture, nor did she resist. She engaged in a discussion with someone who did not have her best interest at heart but presented the temptation as an attractive option. That’s the trouble – temptation always seems enticing at first. The devil tempted Jesus three times, but He never gave in. Instead Jesus quoted scripture each time to rebuff Satan. One of the best ways to avoid the lies of temptation is to constantly feed your mind with God’s Word so that when temptation is knocking at your door, you are prepared.
“God’s Word is stronger than any lie…”
Life is full of temptations. I find the farther away I am from my spiritual base, the easier it is to cave, to give in, and rationalize bad behavior. But when I renew and transform my mind as I’m instructed to in Romans 12:2, I can stare temptation in the face and win. Each time I win, God sends His angels to minister to me, just like He did with Jesus. Ministering to me is how my needs are truly met.
However this is a daily, ongoing battle. God’s Word is stronger than any lie, so learn it and know it so that you can use it. Or like this old song says, “Yield not to temptation for yielding is sin; each victory will help you some other to win. Fight manfully onward bad passions subdue. Look ever to Jesus; He will carry you through.
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