Do you ever have those days where you just want to sin? Sin looks delicious while righteousness looks distasteful. Sin looks satisfying and holiness looks frustrating. You wake up in the morning with a desire to do what you know you should not desire to do. Your heart echoes with what God said to Cain: “Sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you.” And your desire is for it.
What do you do on a day like that?
Take the Blame
“Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am being tempted by God,’ for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death” (James 1:13-15). Sin takes advantage of your sinful desires by promising satisfaction in the expression and fulfillment of those desires. Take the blame for wanting to sin. You want to sin because you are a sinner!
Look for Satan
“Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith…” (1 Peter 5:8-9). Satan knows you are prone to sin and knows you well enough to know your specific temptations to sin. In the days you are being tempted to sin, you may well be facing his attacks. When sin feels extrinsic, like it is coming from outside as much as inside, prepare yourself to resist the devil.
Talk to God
“Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. … praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication” (Ephesians 6:11, 18a). When tempted to sin, you are told to put on the whole armor of God—the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, and so on. Each of these pieces of armor is donned and deployed through prayer. You resist sin and withstand temptation through humbling yourself in prayer and by crying out to God for his strength.
Talk to Someone Else
“Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working” (James 5:16). Tell your husband or wife, your colleague, your friend, your accountability partner. Confess your desire. Make it as simple as it really is: “I want to sin today. Sin looks desirable; holiness looks boring.” Ask for their prayer in the moment and ask them to talk to you later to ask if and how you withstood the temptation. Just as they can pray with you now to plead God’s help, they can pray with you later to rejoice in his deliverance.
Preach the Gospel
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17). Preach this great gospel truth to yourself. As a Christian, you have been purchased by Christ. You belong to him. You are his. You have been given everything you need to resist—the ability and the desire. You are a new creation and both can and should behave as such. Preach the gospel to yourself and remember whose you are.
Resist the Temptation
“No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it” (1 Corinthians 10:13). God promises that he will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you can bear, but that he will always provide a way of escape. He will provide a way, but you still need to take advantage of that way. Talk to God, ask him to make the way clear, and ask that he will give you grace to take it. Often resisting temptation is as simple as this: Don’t sin! Resolve that you will not sin and then follow resolve with stubborn obedience.
Rely on Patterns of Godliness
“Put to death therefore what is earthly in you … Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience … And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called…” (Colossians 3:5-15). The Christian life is a lifelong obedience of replacing ungodly patterns and habits with godly ones. We continually put off the old man and put on the new. When facing temptation you will be tempted to fall back into old tendencies and habits. Instead, reject the old patterns of ungodliness and rely upon and follow the patterns of godliness you have developed.
“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). If temptation is born out of sinful desire and false promises of satisfaction through what God forbids, the solution is to give thanks. Where temptation focuses on all you do not have, thanksgiving focuses on all you have graciously been given. When you are tempted to sin, thank God for his good gifts. When you have been delivered from the temptation to sin, give thanks for his enabling grace.
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