What should we do about temptation?

Before I even try to answer, let me tell you there’s a big difference between what to do about Satan and what to do about temptation. People tend to get confused about this, so I’ll try to be as clear as possible. There are two basic choices: fight or flight. Which is right?

Avoid it. 1 Thess 5:22 “Avoid every kind of evil.” Make every effort not to be put into a bad position.

Abstain from it. 1 Peter 2:11 “Dear friends, I urge you as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul.” As Nancy Reagan liked to say, “Just Say No.”

Flee From it and Replace it. 2 Tim 2:22 “Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.” This verse is extremely good because it contains two parts, and the second is the real key, in my humble opinion. Like the other verses above it tells us to run away from the bad, but this one states what should be obvious – run to what is good. Replace the desires of the flesh with a desire for the Lord. If you’re concentrating on what is good, it will be more difficult for the selfish desires to get hold of you. 1 Cor 6:18 and 10:14 also provide instructions on how to flee temptation.

Deny Self. Lk 9:23 “Then he said to them all, ‘If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.’“ Turn from your self (your selfish desires which capitalize on temptation) and seek the Lord instead. I will go a step further and say I believe this is the distilled essence of repentance.

Put your confidence in the Lord. 1 Cor 10:13 “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 you can stand up under it.” This is not a promise of ease, but a promise of hope in spite of difficulty.

Nowhere in scripture does it tell you to fight temptation. Nowhere does it say use willpower to stand up to temptation. The word tells us to avoid it, escape it (flee), replace it with what is Godly. In fact most of the uses of the word “flee” in the New Testament, at least when it is used as part of a command or instruction to us, involves fleeing temptation. Don’t give temptation a foothold.

This post is an excerpt from my book Ask James one.


About Lance Ponder

Christian author of "Ask James one"; public speaker; husband and father. Available to speak on Creation and the Gospel.
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