Temptation comes from our own desires which entice us and drag us away. These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death.In the proceeding verses, we are told that temptation does not come from God. Where does it come from? It comes for our own desires which entice us and drag us away. We know desires are not all bad. In Psalm 37: 4 it tells us if we delight in the Lord that he will give us our heart's desires. But then again in Jeremiah, we are told that the heart is deceitful so how can our desires be good? In week two of her James study, Beth Moore points out the correlation between verses 3-4 with verses 14-15. In the first we have testing which leads to patiently enduring which leads to being mature and fully developed. In the second, we have temptation which leads to desire which leads to sin. The first leads to life while the second leads to death. Temptation will come. Some days I will give in. Other days I will endure and make the right choices. Here are some observations.
1. I need to take every thought captive. (II Cor. 10:5)I don't know about you but my mind can come up with some crazy things. I think one thing which leads to another and then all of a sudden I am mad or sad or frustrated. I let my desire for control or acceptance lead me down a path towards saying things I should not say or doing things I will regret later. What a difference it makes when I take a thought captive and put it up next to God's word which leads to my next point. This is one way I can patiently endure.
2. I need to be in God's word.
When I am daily in God's word, it is much easier to recognize the lies that my heart is telling me. I can clearly see the truth. God's word gives me the strength and wisdom to patiently endure the temptation. This is one thing I love about memorizing scripture. The Holy Spirit can bring those verse to our mind just when we need them.
3. I need to remember that only God can give me the desires of my heart.
When I look to the world for desires like acceptance or love, I am going to come up lacking. These are things that only God can give. I may find a form of acceptance or love but inside I will know that something is still missing. Have you ever been in a situation where you tried to control the circumstance to come out the way you wanted it to? Did it work out your way or did you make things worse? I usually make it worse. The times when I step back, pray, and trust God's leading are the times when the results are so much better than I could have imagined. We want things now but sometimes we are not ready. We want things our way but we do not see the big picture. God knows that desires of our heart. He knows which are good and right, but he also knows the best way to give us these desires.
4. Sometimes I need to run from temptation.
There are times to stand up and say no. Other times like Joseph, we need to run from our temptation. This might be literally walking away before we say or do something that we will regret. It may be having boundaries such as no sweets in the house, not watching tv, or having the computer in a central room. One boundary that helps me when I use it is not wanting to know everything about everything. A good example is prayer requests. Sometimes we share too much which leads to gossip. Keep it simple and sweet and use the extra time to pray. For me, it sometimes means staying away from a conversation where I will find out things I don't need to know or be tempted to add things I don't need to be adding.
5. I Do Have a Choice to NOT Sin
I love yet hate I Cor. 10:13. It says...
The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show a way out so that you can endure.I love that God will not allow us to be tempted more than we can handle. He wants us to succeed. He wants us to endure. I have a choice not to sin. Sometimes seeing this choice is hard. Sometimes I don't see it because I am not looking. I also hate this verse because I do not have an excuse. I can't blame it on the the circumstance, someone else or even the devil. God has set before us life and death. I pray we can choose the way that leads to life.
Dear God, Thank you that you give us the strength to endure. Help me to see the desires of my heart that are enticing me and dragging me away from you. Show me a better way. Help me set good boundaries and see the way out. May I know when to stand and fight and when to run. God, I want my life to be a shining light for you here in this land. May I cling to you and your word in the good times and the bad. Amen.