So, we started our series on wisdom a few weeks back, and we have learned some good, foundational things:
We began by looking at what the benefits of wisdom are, and we saw that with wisdom comes life, honor, riches, favor, promotion, long life, etc. Therefore, we saw that if all of these blessings come with wisdom then we all must still have a need for more wisdom in our lives.
Then, we began defining wisdom by both looking at what wisdom is and what wisdom is not. We saw that wisdom is the ability to judge correctly and to follow the best course of action, based on knowledge and understanding. In other words, it is the ability to use knowledge and understanding in order to think and act in such a way that common sense prevails and choices are beneficial and productive. So, we learned that a good definition of wisdom is being skilled and an expert in the arena of life.
So, we’ve spent the past couple of weeks looking at the over-arching principle of wisdom - that it is about living rightly, based on God’s perspective and His standards. It is love! It is faith! It is hope! Wisdom looks at things from His perspective and acts accordingly.
Therefore, we looked at the heart of wisdom last week, which is this: wisdom always looks ahead. It lives for its “retirement” in eternity and does not spend all of its time, energy and resources on today. This is called living for spiritual and eternal “investments” as opposed to living in spiritual, eternal “debt.”
Now we are going to get into many of the different practical things of this life, but it would be irresponsible of me to not spend some time on the spiritual, eternal things - for this is the epitome of wisdom.
THE FOOLISHNESS OF SIN
So, this week, I would like for us to look at something that you will find threaded throughout the Book of Wisdom (i.e. Proverbs) – the subject of foolishness.
You know, if you have become more familiar with the Book of Proverbs recently, you will see that the Holy Spirit likes to differentiate between the wise person and the fool. In other words, a fool is the exact opposite of a wise person according to the Scriptures.
And without going into a lot of detail of how a fool is described in the Bible, if there was one way to summarize foolishness according to Solomon is would be that a fool SINS. That’s right! The most foolish thing one could do according to the Bible is SIN! My friends, sin is stupid!
Indulging in sin is one of the most stupid things one could do! How can I say this so pointedly? It is because the wages of sin is death (see Romans 6:23). It takes the life of its owners. Yes, sin will take you further than you want to go, keep you longer than you want to stay, and pay you what you definitely don’t want to be paid. You will live bankrupt of the life of God!
Now, yes, the Lord has paid the price for us to be free from sin. Yes, He is a loving and forgiving God. And, yes, thank God, we do not get what we deserve! But that does not mean that we persist to live sinful lifestyles. I mean, why would we continue to live in the thing that cost Jesus so much? I like to say it this way: for a Christian to willingly continue in sin would be like us proudly displaying the weapon on our mantle that a serial killer used to murder someone we loved! Now that is foolish, amen?
So, no, even though God’s grace has made provision for the sin problem, that doesn’t mean we should not abhor it! In fact, God’s grace has not only freed us from the penalty of sin, it has also freed us from the dominion of sin. So, we don’t have to live in it, any longer! We are freed from sin - past, present and future!
But the fact is, sin is still very enticing, and even the best of us have succumbed to its allurement from time to time. There is a reason it is characterized by “temptation.”
WISDOM FOR TEMPTATION
So, let’s look over at the Book of Proverbs and see how we have several sections of this Book of Wisdom that are devoted to this “seductress” called sin.
Now in these passages, you will see a certain reoccurring analogy - a seductress and a foolish boy.
However, even though we will see the sin of adultery and fornication often being used in these passages of Scripture, this is simply the common analogy that the Bible uses to describe the temptation to sin in general. So, don’t just read these literally; read them as symbolic of how any sin seduces man. Amen?
Now this needs to be said as well, but when we talk about “sin,” please understand that we are not just talking about that category of sins that most people think are the “big sins.” Sin can certainly be the analogy that is commonly being used here in these Scriptures we have just looked at like sexual sins, but it can also be the temptation to fear or worry, to gossip and slander, to be offended and unforgiving. Sin is sin, saints! And there is no such thing as different degrees of sin.
Let’s first look at Proverbs 1:10-19: In it, Solomon says, “My son, if sinners entice you, do not consent. If they say, “Come with us, let us lie in wait to shed blood; let us lurk secretly for the innocent without cause; let us swallow them alive like Sheol, and whole, like those who go down to the Pit; we shall find all kinds of precious possessions, we shall fill our houses with spoil; cast in your lot among us, let us all have one purse”- My son, do not walk in the way with them, keep your foot from their path; for their feet run to evil, and they make haste to shed blood. Notice in these verses that we see the power of “peer-pressure” when it comes to temptation and sin. Church, this is one avenue the enemy loves to use to sway us away from the path God has for us - through the pressures of other people. He will use every trick in the book to pressure you into making poor choices. Don’t do it! Slow down! Don’t act hastily. Consider the ramifications of what you’re being tempted to do. Think it through. Surely, in vain the net is spread in the sight of any bird; but they lie in wait for their own blood, they lurk secretly for their own lives. So are the ways of everyone who is greedy for gain; It takes away the life of its owners.” Again, know that yielding to the temptation to live selfishly and to run rough-shod over others only takes your life away. You will be empty. You will not have peace. Joy only comes when you live like so: Jesus, Others and then yourself.
Proverbs 2:10-22 says, “When wisdom enters your heart, and knowledge is pleasant to your soul, discretion will preserve you; understanding will keep you, to deliver you from the way of evil from the man who speaks perverse things, from those who leave the paths of uprightness to walk in the ways of darkness; who rejoice in doing evil, and delight in the perversity of the wicked; whose ways are crooked, and who are devious in their paths; to deliver you from the immoral woman, from the seductress who flatters with her words… Notice that sin likes to flatter - feeding the pride that is in us. “You deserve better,” she says. “This is your right. You’ve worked hard and they shouldn’t take advantage of you like that.” I’m reminded of how Satan tried to use Peter to tempt Jesus to think of Himself when the Cross was coming. He said, “Be it far from you Lord. This shall not be.” (Matthew 16:22) What Satan was trying to do here is get Jesus to start considering Himself. But He, being aware of it, immediately responded with - Get behind me, Satan!...” And these “flattering words” will not always come out of people’s mouths. Sometimes those words will come in our heads. So, we have to be sober and vigilant to know when these words are temptations.), who forsakes the companion of her youth, and forgets the covenant of her God. For her house leads down to death, and her paths to the dead; none who go to her return, nor do they regain the paths of life- Oh, how this has happened to so many! They have yielded to the temptations and have forfeited the grace and anointing. Sure, the gifts and callings of God are without repentance. Therefore, we can regain the path of life if we truly repent, but the fact is, most never recover from their mistakes. Don’t be one of these. Stay on the path of life by never overstepping your conscience. So you may walk in the way of goodness and keep to the paths of righteousness. For the upright will dwell in the land, and the blameless will remain in it; but the wicked will be cut off from the earth, and the unfaithful will be uprooted from it.”
Proverbs 5:1-20 says, “My son, pay attention to my wisdom; lend your ear to my understanding, that you may preserve discretion, and your lips may keep knowledge. For the lips of an immoral woman drip honey, and her mouth is smoother than oil; but in the end she is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a two-edged sword. Her feet go down to death, Her steps lay hold of hell. Lest you ponder her path of life-- Her ways are unstable; you do not know them. The Bible speaks of “the passing pleasures of sin” (i.e. that sin has pleasure for a season). Always know that it might be fun today but notice how you will feel tomorrow. Therefore hear me now, my children, And do not depart from the words of my mouth. Remove your way far from her, and do not go near the door of her house, lest you give your honor to others, and your years to the cruel one; lest aliens be filled with your wealth, and your labors go to the house of a foreigner; and you mourn at last, when your flesh and your body are consumed, and say: "How I have hated instruction, And my heart despised correction! I have not obeyed the voice of my teachers, nor inclined my ear to those who instructed me! I was on the verge of total ruin, In the midst of the assembly and congregation." Drink water from your own cistern, and running water from your own well. Should your fountains be dispersed abroad, streams of water in the streets? Let them be only your own, and not for strangers with you. Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice with the wife of your youth. As a loving deer and a graceful doe, let her breasts satisfy you at all times; and always be enraptured with her love. For why should you, my son, be enraptured by an immoral woman, and be embraced in the arms of a seductress?”
Proverbs 6:24-29 says, “… To keep you from the evil woman, from the flattering tongue of a seductress. Do not lust after her beauty in your heart, nor let her allure you with her eyelids. For by means of a harlot a man is reduced to a crust of bread; and an adulteress will prey upon his precious life. Can a man take fire to his bosom, and his clothes not be burned? Can one walk on hot coals, and his feet not be seared? This is a word of wisdom to those who think, “Oh, I’ll be alright” or “Oh, it won’t hurt to just have a little.” The truth I,- playing around the mud puddle will get you dirty and getting too close to the fire will burn you. So is he who goes in to his neighbor’s wife; whoever touches her shall not be innocent.”
Proverbs 7:6-27 says, “For at the window of my house I looked through my lattice, and saw among the simple, I perceived among the youths, a young man devoid of understanding, passing along the street near her corner; and he took the path to her house in the twilight, in the evening, in the black and dark night. And there a woman met him, with the attire of a harlot, and a crafty heart. She was loud and rebellious, her feet would not stay at home. At times she was outside, at times in the open square, lurking at every corner. So she caught him and kissed him; with an impudent face she said to him: “I have peace offerings with me; today I have paid my vows. So I came out to meet you, diligently to seek your face, and I have found you. I have spread my bed with tapestry, colored coverings of Egyptian linen. I have perfumed my bed with myrrh, aloes, and cinnamon. Come, let us take our fill of love until morning; let us delight ourselves with love. For my husband is not at home; he has gone on a long journey; he has taken a bag of money with him, and will come home on the appointed day.” With her enticing speech she caused him to yield, with her flattering lips she seduced him. Immediately he went after her, as an ox goes to the slaughter, or as a fool to the correction of the stocks, till an arrow struck his liver. As a bird hastens to the snare, he did not know it would cost his life. Now therefore, listen to me, my children; pay attention to the words of my mouth: Do not let your heart turn aside to her ways, do not stray into her paths; for she has cast down many wounded, and all who were slain by her were strong men. Her house is the way to hell, descending to the chambers of death.”
And finally, Proverbs 9:13-18 says, “A foolish woman is clamorous; she is simple and knows nothing. For she sits at the door of her house, on a seat by the highest places of the city, to call to those who pass by, who go straight on their way: “Whoever is simple, let him turn in here”; and as for him who lacks understanding, she says to him, “Stolen water is sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant.” But he does not know that the dead are there, that her guests are in the depths of hell.”
Now that is lot of Scripture that is devoted to the subject of sin and temptation, is it not!?! And again, when you see so many references to the same subject, you do well to take heed to it – particularly when it is repeated so many times in the Book of Wisdom itself. That teaches us that a big part of walking in wisdom is walking, with our eyes open, cognizant of this seductress called sin.
WHEN IS EACH ONE TEMPTED?
Let’s look at a New Testament passage of Scripture that describes this same process:
James 1:14-15- “But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.”
Now we know that satan is the one doing the tempting and enticing. Of this, we have no doubt. But does this mean that satan is the source of temptation? No, he is not!
You know, we like to say things like, “The devil made me do it!” Have you ever heard that? Well, the devil can’t make you do anything. The truth is - you and I choose to take the bait that he sends our way.
Friends, in regard to temptation, we have adopted a lot of the same mentality that the world has - I call it “no fault religion.” What do I mean by this? I mean that just as modern-day psychology teaches - we are a product of our environment - the church has a similar philosophy that does not take responsibility for anything. They say it is either God doing everything - sovereignly causing every circumstance and situation in our lives to work His will - or they say it is the devil - doing whatever he wants - and therefore they are blaming him for everything.
Friends, there is so much wrong with that philosophy. No, we live broken down, defeated lives because we choose to! Now, of course, that does not mean that we wish bad things will happen to us, but we choose how we let these bad things affect us and dictate our lives. No, contrary to popular opinion, you are not a product of your circumstances, situations, or environment; you are a product of how you choose to respond to these things. We choose whether we are going to be “bitter” or “better.”
So, no, the devil is not the source of all temptation. Even though the devil is called “the tempter,” this passage here in James chapter 1 teaches us that it is not really him that causes us to be tempted.
Notice that James says that each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires. So, what can we conclude from this? It is that while satan is the tempter; he is not the source of the temptation; we are! What do I mean by that? Just look at this Scripture - it says that we are only drawn away because of our own desires. In other words, if we did not desire it in the first place, it would not be a temptation to us. For instance, I am not tempted to eat too much chocolate because chocolate is not a big temptation for me. Now it is for others, and that would make them easier to be enticed. And it works this way for all of us. Some of us are tempted with certain things and others are tempted with other things. It is all based on our own desires.
And these desires of the heart and flesh are the root cause of every temptation. Temptation for what? To be “drawn away.” So, a good question here would be: Drawn away from what? Drawn away from the ways of the kingdom. Romans 14:17 says that the kingdom of God is righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit. So, to be drawn away from the kingdom of God would be to be drawn away from righteousness, peace, and joy. So, when we are tempted to practice unrighteousness - which could be any moral failure, etc. - we are being drawn away from the kingdom. When we are tempted to lose our peace, we are being drawn away from the kingdom. When we are tempted to lose our joy, we are being drawn away from the kingdom.
TEMPTATION IS NOT SIN
Then notice what happens next in this process that James describes: “Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin…”
There is an extremely important lesson we can learn through this statement, and it is this - Temptation is not sin. Why do I say this? Consider that many Christians have a thought pass through our mind that is impure and then they let the enemy plague them with the accusation that either they have sinned by that thought or something is wrong with them because they had that thought.
Let me tell you something: Just because you are tempted by wrong desires and unholy thoughts that pass through your mind does not mean you have sinned. It has been well said that you cannot keep a bird from flying over your head, but you can keep it from building a nest there. And that nest is what James was referring to here when he said, “when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin.”
Notice the terminology James is using here - referring to conception and then to giving birth. What James is doing here is likening the process that sin takes in our lives to the process of the conception and birth of human life. In other words, the way that life is formed within a woman and then how she gives birth to that baby is how sin begins in our lives.
Notice, first of all, that James refers to those desires conceiving within us. This is a reference to our own desires that he just mentioned.
You see, the issue is not that we have these desires for wrong things that would draw us away from the Lord and His kingdom. The issue is when we allow those desires of the flesh to “conceive” in our heart.
This is why the Scriptures teach about the importance of guarding our heart with all diligence. It is because out of the heart flow the issues of life (Proverbs 4:23). In other words, the heart is the well-spring of life and our life is a product of what we have treasured up in our heart. Therefore, what we allow to conceive in our heart is the direction our life will try to go.
Just as it is with the conception of life in the natural, sin is given birth to in the same way. The lusts of our flesh must be conceived in our heart. This happens as we think on those lusts - constantly pondering, considering, and visualizing those things in our minds. If you mull those things over in your mind enough, it will conceive in your heart. And that is when the acting on those lusts becomes very likely. This is why James says that when those desires have conceived, they give birth to sin. That is the manifestation of those sins of the heart. This is why Jesus taught during the Sermon on the Mount that to lust in your heart is equal to following through with the lust. It is because the conception almost assures the action.
SPIRITUAL BIRTH CONTROL
Well, let us consider this illustration further: If giving birth to sin is a similar process to giving birth in the natural, then couldn’t we learn from how we prevent having babies in the natural? We sure can! Let’s look at it:
First of all, what do the majority of people do to avoid conceiving children? They use birth control. Well, how would this apply to the conception of sin in our hearts? There are certain things that we can practice to keep those temptations that come into our minds from conceiving in our hearts. For example, 2 Corinthians chapter 10 teaches us to cast down imaginations and to bring every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ. So, when we have those haughty thoughts come into our head we must use the “weapons of our warfare”, namely the Word of God, to bring our thoughts back in line with God’s thoughts. For example, if you have a subtle temptation to pass through your mind then you need to immediately speak to that thought (out of your mouth) what God’s Word says concerning that situation.
You see, the phrase “bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ” describes how we cast down these imaginations, arguments, etc. It describes us putting a spear in the back of these renegade thoughts and leading them into a place of control to our will and His Word. The decision that we make to “pull down strongholds” and “cast down imaginations” must be made with aggressive authority. We must understand that we are the possessor of our minds and, therefore, are the authority over all thoughts that enter it. So, when unwanted thoughts enter we are to exert that authority over them aggressively. Therefore, the primary way we keep sin from conceiving within us is by speaking the Word of God.
You know, we can’t do any better than the Master who, when He was tempted in the wilderness, simply spoke the Word saying, “It is written, It is written, It is written…” This is what resists the devil, and this is what resists the temptation and causes it to flee from you!
But let me ask you this: What is the best form of birth control? Abstinence! Simply not having the relations is a 100% guaranteed way of not conceiving, right? Well, what if we practiced “spiritual abstinence”?
Did you know that the Bible does not really emphasize overcoming temptations? It doesn’t! What the Bible actually teaches us is to not even enter into temptations (see Matthew 26:14)! For example, in the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:13), Jesus taught us to pray that we would not enter into temptation. What Jesus is describing here is not even putting ourselves in the position to conceive sin in our hearts, or you could say, “abstinence.” What a radical concept!
Did you know that there are many believers who commit abortion every day? Now I am obviously not talking about physical abortion; I am talking about spiritual abortion. What I mean is that they live their life having intimacy with the ungodliness on television, the internet, etc., and then - when they are confronted with a temptation - they have to “white knuckle it” to keep themselves from giving in to that desire. Of course, there are certain temptations that are unavoidable because we live in an ungodly society, but the truth is that there are many temptations that can simply be avoided by living holy lifestyles. And what I mean by “holy lifestyles” is living separate from the ways of the world.
It is sad to say, but you could not tell most professing Christians from “Joe-blow sinner” down the road. In other words, if they did not tell you that they were a Christian, you likely would never presume that they are. And then these same Christians do not understand why they struggle with a lust for sin in their hearts.
Saints, that is really no different than the female who goes around being intimate with boys, keeps getting pregnant, and then has to keep getting abortions to keep from having a bunch of babies. How would you admonish that girl who continuously slept around and kept getting pregnant? Of course, you would tell her to stop sleeping around, wouldn’t you? Well, that is exactly what the Bible teaches us about temptations: quit being intimate with the temptation! Or, as we would say in the natural, quit putting yourself in the position to get pregnant!
The Apostle Peter makes my point best when he says, “…Abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul.” (1 Peter 2:11) You see, the best form of birth control from those fleshly lusts is spiritual abstinence - that is, keeping away from the ungodliness that you do not want to conceive in your heart.
Do you remember what the Bible says about Lot regarding his time in Sodom & Gomorrah - how it says that when he departed from his uncle Abram that he “pitched his tent towards Sodom” (see Genesis 13:12)? Well, 2 Peter 2:7-8 teaches us that this vexed righteous Lot’s soul by hearing and seeing their lawless deeds. So, do you see 1 Peter 2:11 being fulfilled in Lot’s life? Because he didn’t “abstain” from Sodom, the sin warred against his soul.
I believe Romans 13:14 gives us a great example of how we avoid temptation: In this verse, the Apostle Paul gives a wonderful cure for the lusts of the flesh and of the eyes when he says, “But put on the Lord Jesus Christ and make no provision for the flesh to fulfill its lusts.”
The word “provision” here comes from the Greek word pronoia - the word pro meaning “before” and the word noeo describing the mind, our thoughts, etc. So, when you combine these words together, you get the word pronoia which means “premeditate or forethought.” But actually, the Greek sentence structure is somewhat different: This word for “provision”, pronoia, comes before the word “make.” Now what is interesting about this is the word “make” comes from the Greek word poeio and means to create or produce something. It is where we get our words “poet, poem, or poetry” from. So, with the sentence structure here, it should read - “premeditation produces into lusts.” In other words, to give forethought to the things of the flesh will create the lusts for the things of the flesh. So, what can we learn from this? Our thinking will result in what we desire. This is why my father in the faith likes to say that you cannot be tempted by what you don’t think on.
Let’s look at Hebrews 11:15: It says, “And truly if they had called to mind that country from which they had come out, they would have had opportunity to return.” This is such a powerful verse! It is telling us that if those like Abraham would have recalled in their thinking the country that they came from, they would have had a chance of going back - indicating that because they never let their mind go there, they did not have the opportunity of going there in person. Wow!
Saints, you cannot physically go somewhere you did not mentally go first. Likewise, you cannot physically do something that you have not thought on first. I don’t know if you understand just how powerful that is! That means that all temptation is tied to thought!
You see, our thinking is what generates our feelings. This is why in Romans chapter 8 (the solution to Romans chapter 7), Paul exhorts us not to be carnally minded, but to be spiritually minded. For to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Yes, you become what you behold. Where the mind goes, the man will follow. Therefore, your thought life is super important towards living the God kind of life.
HOW TO NOT ENTER INTO TEMPTATION
And back to Romans 13:14, what did the verse begin with? It exhorted us to first “put on” the Lord Jesus Christ. The questions that should be raised then are: What does it mean to put on the Lord Jesus Christ and How do we put Him on?
Well, in short, to put on Christ and all of His virtues means to exemplify and act like who you already are and what you already have been given. The words “put on” actually mean to wear or be dressed in clothing. So, it means to wear the clothes that you already possess by acting like who we already are.
But as we have been saying, what determines those actions? What dictates our behavior? We choose what we “put on” by choosing our attitude and mindset! Therefore, we put on Christ by choosing to think and focus on the things of Christ! Glory!
But I think it is of extreme significance that Paul first said that we are to put on Christ before he said to not make provision for the flesh to fulfill its lusts. Why? Because it is not just about trying to quit thinking on the wrong thing. The best way to overcome wrong thinking is by exchanging our thoughts for God’s thoughts - letting the light drive out the darkness. I am a strong proponent that the best way to get rid of darkness is by letting light in - not trying to shovel out darkness.
We can do this by claiming and walking in the armor of God and all of the “I am” promises in His Word. Galatians 5: 16 says, “Walk in the Spirit and you will not fulfill the lust of the flesh.” (It really says you will ABSOLUTELY not fulfill the lust of the flesh) The key is relationship with God, in communion with the Holy Spirit. We need to cultivate our desires to look on Christ rather than the things of the world. In Romans chapters 1 thru 7 the Holy Spirit is only mentioned a few times; in Romans 8, He is mentioned over a dozen times. This is the chapter where Paul definitively shows that the Christian life is to be lived in the Spirit. Seek the Lord, seek fellowship with the Holy Spirit. The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. Focus on the Lord and build up your inner man so that it is stronger than the flesh by praying in the Spirit!
We see this in the original temptation of man in the Garden of Eden:
Let me ask you a question: What would have been the cure for this whole temptation in the Garden? Well, the problem was that they were even over there considering the tree in the first place. Where should they have been? How about walking with the Lord? It says right after they partook of the fruit of the tree that the Lord was walking through the Garden, ready for His time to walk with them in the cool of the day.
You see, the best way to avoid temptation altogether is to not hang out too close to the line. In other words, we shouldn’t spend our time looking at and feeding ourselves on the things that will fuel those desires. If we would just walk with God - that is, enjoy our personal relationship with Him and spend our day in constant communication with Him - we would not leave a lot of room for temptation.
This is why I whole-heartedly believe that one of the benefits of seeking first the kingdom of God and putting our hand to the plow doing God’s will is that we will keep ourselves from falling into most temptations.
Case in point- King David… Do you remember the account with Bathsheba where David went out on the roof of his house and saw her, which caused a terrible series of circumstances in his life? Well, it is important to notice in 2 Samuel 11:1-2 the details of this situation that led to his demise.
Notice, first of all, in verse 1 how we are told that it happened during the spring of the year, at the time when the kings go out to battle, that David stayed in Jerusalem. Now who was the king of Israel? David! So why was he not out at the battle like the rest of the kings? Well, I think we get a clue in verse 2:
Notice how verse 2 says that David arose from his bed one “evening”… Now while naps are sometimes necessary, I think we have a picture painted here of why David fell like he did... You see, he was not where he should have been.
I have seen countless times where people are tempted to not go to a meeting, whether it be at church or Bible study, and they come anyway and it was exactly what they needed. God had an answer for them at that specific time and place. Well, don’t you think the devil knows these times and places of provision? So, don’t you think he might tempt us to miss those times and places? I guarantee you he will.
For instance, on a particular time I have taught on this very subject of temptation, an individual who was supposed to be there wasn’t. And guess what happened? They fell into temptation! Do you think perhaps if we would be faithful to where God wants us to be and with what he wants us to be doing that we could avoid a lot of unnecessary temptations? Sure!
This is why the Lord taught us to pray that we would be led out of temptation - that is, to be led by the Holy Spirit, around the temptations and traps that the enemy has laid for us. This is going to happen as we are led and are faithful to where God has placed us and with what He has told us to be doing. So, the lesson we should learn from this is - if we are not where we are supposed to be and doing what we are supposed to be doing, we are all the more in danger of falling into temptation.
What if we began to exchange our thoughts for God’s thoughts? What if we simply fasted the things that we are looking at, watching, reading, etc., that fuel the tempting thoughts?
You see, I would hope that we could all agree that abortion is not an acceptable form of birth control. Consider a young woman who just laid with every man she wanted to and then every time she conceived, she just had an abortion. How many of you know that is completely unacceptable? But how many Christians do that with temptation? They feed those desires and they fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness - not giving any heed to what they hear and what they see. And then when their flesh is ready to give birth to that sin - meaning, they are being severely tempted to act on those temptations - they just try to abort it.
How many of you know this is not the best way to live? No, we should practice spiritual abstinence and not fuel the temptations by watching what we watch and listening to what we listen to! In fact, I would take this a step further and say, What if we reversed this whole process altogether?!?! What if we began to desire the things of God like our flesh desires wrong things? What if we began to desire God? You can!
You can begin to desire God more and more! How? By relationship with Him. As you begin to spend intimate time with Him through prayer and the Word, you can begin to conceive truth, righteousness, light, etc. in your heart. And as this occurs, the next step in James chapter 1 occurs: Just as sin (when it is full grown) brings forth death, righteousness (when it is full grown) brings forth life!
Saints, you can give birth to righteousness, and then when it comes to maturity, it produces the God kind of life! Amen! So why don’t we just start seeking God so much that the temptations are not as loud and strong? This is the quickest and best way to stifle temptations! Amen!