The Spiritual Life: Taking The Bait Part 2: Spiritual and Practical Advice for Temptation and Sin You May Never Knew

If you missed Part One of this blog post you really should read it first. part 1 can be found here:

The Spiritual Life: Taking the Bait – Part 1: Insights on Temptation and Sin You May Never Knew About

Proven Methods to Get Free from Addiction to Sin

God is not unaware of our problem and has sent Jesus to not only pay our fine which we could never pay in a million years, but to keep us from the death sentence of eternal damnation in hell. As a Christian you probably already know this so what I want to focus on is 1 How to effectively resist temptation in the first place 2 How to deal with sin once you’ve fallen into it and 3 how to get free when you’ve gone too far down the path sin has set out for you and find yourself in bondage to it. You must understand that these steps take practice and patience and there will be many failures along the way, it is a lifelong practice but in time you can become quite proficient in doing them and see growing success in your fight against sin.

However if you are reading this and are not truly born again then forget about it, you can try willpower, 12 step programs, making promises to yourself, God and others, turning over a new leaf and trying as hard as you can, being more religious but you will not ever be set free. Sure you may achieve some success in some things but when it comes to sin it is in your nature and none of your efforts will satisfy God’s requirements. You must come to an end of yourself and realize your whole life is in bondage to sin and although you may have tried really hard you can’t get free and the death sentence and God’s wrath is waiting for you. Then throw yourself on God’s mercy, depending on Jesus only to save you – and He will if you are dead serious about turning to and depending on him alone to save you from sin and the coming judgment which would otherwise send you to hell forever. Take it seriously because your life does depend on it!

When it comes to your desires and the temptation to sin, the first thing you must work on is being aware of what’s happening in the very moment it’s taking place. This requires a certain degree of mindfulness. What is it that’s grabbing your attention? What is it that is appealing and attracting you? What desire is being inflamed? Once you can identify these factors you can tell that desire no and pray more effectively about them. For example when the devil came to tempt Jesus who had been fasting for 40 days, he knew what to target – his hunger. Jesus did not just tell his desire no he counteracted it by saying ‘Man does not live by bread alone but by every word of God”. This illustrates another point, scripture is a powerful weapon in combating our temptation to sin. IF you can find a scripture to stand on when facing temptation you will find a powerful ally.

One of the things we need to realize about sin is that if you kill the root you kill the fruit but most people try to deal with their sin by killing the fruit, the problem is more than one apple grows on the same tree. The root is our desire. If you kill the desire guess what all the fruit (acting on our desire) will die. The other thing we need to realize is that sin can have a root system (more than one desire) and if you don’t kill the entire root system the tree may be weakened but not enough to completely stop bearing fruit. For example let’s say someone is struggling with a sexual sin. With this sin there is often more than a sexual urge at play. We may very well fight that urge through resistance, prayer and scripture but fall into it because we have not addressed the other contributing factors, and most often we are not consciously aware of.

This requires us to go to the Lord for help in revealing to us what these contributing factors are so that they can be dealt with as well. For example along with the sexual urge, we may have the desire to be loved, we may feel the desire to control or dominate the object of our attraction, we may be using our sexual desire to soothe a hurt or wound that comes from our past, we may be wanting acceptance or wanting to avoid rejection, we may want to prove our masculinity or femininity or we may be wanting security or safety. IF these other branches of the root system are not addressed along with our sexual urge we will continue to be tempted and assume it all has to do with our desire for sex. We will get discouraged and frustrated that we are not making progress and give up the fight.

Some Practical Advice

Now there are some practical things to consider. I remember when I used to greatly struggle with fear, in fact I was in bondage to it. And yes by the way fear can be sin especially if it controls us. When I really started to pray about what to do about my fear, I was in the middle of a situation that was lasting for quite awhile and was a cause of great fear for me because it involved real danger. The first thing God told me was to stop watching scary movies. Often times when people have a problem with fear they do or watch things that are scary but involve little to no real danger. They think in doing so they are facing their fear but in reality they are feeding it and making it stronger!

I noticed in the last two scary movies I watched that there was real demonic activity going on and I realized that by watching them I was giving the devil an opportunity to get to me. So I stopped and haven’t watched a scary movie since. The next thing I did was to take my fear to the Lord every time it presented itself to me. Because I was given into the power of fear one time of resisting it was not enough, I had to resist it every single time it presented itself and it seemed like it was hundreds of times the first few days I started praying, resisting and using scripture. In a few weeks it got better, fear was coming less often to tempt me but it was still coming. I faithfully kept doing what I’ve told you and in two or three months I was completely free from the power of fear!

Freedom form Sin’s Imprisonment

This brings us into dealing with bondage or addiction to sin. Notice the pattern I laid out in the last paragraph: I went to the Lord in prayer about my sin (I confessed it rather than struggling with it on my own). Then I sought the Lord for direction and He gave it. When you pray about any sin you struggle with you must openly confess every aspect of it and seek God’s forgiveness and direction regarding it and you must have the expectation that he will guide you, because he promises us that he will.

Psalms 32:8 says, “The LORD says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you.” Psalms 119:131 says, “Guide my steps by your word, so I will not be overcome by evil.” And John 6;13a says, “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth.” Once I received his guidance I put it into practice. I stopped feeding my fear by not watching scary movies. You may think the things that are giving power to your sin are no big deal and for someone else they may not be if they’re not given into the sin you’re fighting but to you they are a big deal if they are aiding your sin in any way, no matter how small or inconsequential they may seem. Cut them out of your life if you are serious about gaining your freedom.

Next I talked about taking my fear to the Lord every time it presented itself to me. When it comes to being in bondage to a given sin, a one time confession is not enough and one time of handing it over to the Lord will never be enough to guarantee your freedom. This requires diligence and persistence and not giving up hope when you are constantly being bombarded by the temptation. Don’t give up the fight until your freedom is secured! Another thing we need to put into regular practice is making our life an open book to the Lord through prayer. When I was a very young Christian and I sinned I thought “Oh no! I can’t take this to the Lord! Its sin, he will be mad at me or at least very disappointed with me!” It wasn’t long after that that I realized from scripture that there is nothing hidden from the eyes of the Lord. Proverbs 28:13 says, “He who hides his sin will not prosper but he who confesses and turns from his sin will find mercy” We must bring every aspect of our lives and sins into the light as He is in the light if we are ever going to get help, forgiveness and deliverance.

Find Someone to Confess to

Another important thing in dealing with sin, especially if we are in bondage to is to find someone who is trustworthy that you can confide in and confess what you’re struggling with. They can pray with you and they may be able to give you insights, resources and encouragement that you would not otherwise have by keeping things to yourself and the Lord. This is another way of bringing things into the light. One of the things that’s said about controlling and abusive people is that they like to seclude their victims from family and friends so that they can continue the abuse unhindered. Both the devil and sin operate the same way, they want to keep things a secret so they can continue to abuse us and keep us from getting the help we need. If you don’t know who you can trust to talk to then pray about it and God will lead you to the right person. You may feel embarrassed and vulnerable confessing your struggle to another person but if they are trustworthy then you are safe with them.

The people you choose to confess to should be committed Christians who have a proven track record of being confidential and it’s good if they are a seasoned and mature Christian. They’ve had their own battles and victories and their advice can be just what you need. Having another person you can talk to about your sins also provides you with an accountability partner which if done in the right way can be a hedge for you and a stop gap when you’re being tempted. However this can be problematic since most people are not available 24/7 to talk to you when you’re facing a temptation and they may not know exactly how to counsel you or they may be struggling with their own issues, which is why it shouldn’t be your only or first option. Go to the Lord first, he is always available and wants to help you. The bible does tell us in a few places that we do need to confess our sins to other believers See Galatians 6:1 and James 5:16.

Repentance

You’ve probably heard someone say “you need to repent” but what does that mean? Repentance means to make a U turn and go in a different direction both in your thoughts and actions regarding sin. One of the effects of sin is that it deceives us by promising what it can never deliver. In order to repent we must come to an understanding that we were tricked into accepting a counterfeit as being valid. Once we see the light then we can think differently about the sinful path we’ve been on and reject it by taking a new path that leads us off sin’s path and onto the path of righteousness. Once we mentally understand the deceit we were fed and see God’s way of doing things then the next step is in putting an end to our sinful actions. Therefore repentance involves both thought and action or you could say rethinking what we used to think and taking steps that correspond to our new way of thinking. So you can see how Romans 12:2 comes into play here by renewing our mind.

The Most Powerful Weapon in Combating Sin

The last piece pf advice I have for you is one of the most powerful and unfortunately is one of the least things talked about in the church when it comes to dealing with sin, Sometimes you may hear things like you just need to crucify the flesh or you need to die to self. But what does that mean and how do you actually do it? God gives us the answer in Romans.

In Romans chapter 8 in verses 12-14 it says the following, “Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, you have no obligation to do what your sinful nature urges you to do. For if you live by its dictates, you will die. But if through the power of the Spirit you put to death the deeds of your sinful nature, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. Notice this verse says a few very important things. First we are under no obligation to do what our sinful nature urges us to do = and this is what the sinful nature is comprised of, urges and desires. And as we have said earlier these urges and desires are the root of sin and sinning, Then Paul says that IF through the power of the Holy Spirit YOU put to death the deeds of the sinful nature you will live. Notice it is not you on your own putting these things to death, nor is it the Holy Spirit working on his own that puts the deeds to death, rather it is a collaborative effort between you and the Holy Spirit.

Imagine it like this; you are at a steak house about ready to eat a nice hot steak. You cannot just pick up a sizzling hot steak that just came off the grill with your bare hands to eat it, you will get burned and make a big mess. You need a knife and fork to hold and cut the steak. But the knife and fork cannot hold the steak and cut it by themselves if you don’t pick them up stab the steak with your fork and cut it with the knife. You see it’s a collaborative effort between you and the knife and fork to handle the task of holding and cutting the steak. It is the same thing with you and the Holy Spirit in dealing with your sins.

Our sinful desires are too strong for us to fight on our own, on the other hand we cannot expect the power of the Holy Spirit to fight our desires and the deeds of the flesh without our involvement, cooperation and action. In my fight to overcome my bondage to fear, I took my fearful desire to the Lord and left it with him every time it came up and with practice and time he made the urge more bearable and as I did what I needed to do by not watching scary movies and not knee jerk reacting to fearful situations he eventually killed the desire. The unexpected result was bravery, courage, confidence and boldness in facing scary things because I know my Lord and he has not failed me and he set me free from fear, hiding and cowardice. So when you are tempted ask the Lord to kill the desire you are facing. The bible is clear when it comes to temptation, In 1 Corinthians 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 you a way out so that you can endure.”

Remember sin is driven by desire and committed by giving into and acting on that desire. If the Holy Spirit kills our desire for any given sin then it is so much easer to stop acting on it, but remember desires can be multipronged and we may not be fully aware of them but the Holy Spirit can and will show us them if we ask him to so that we may gain real freedom from any sinful practice.

This blog post is by no means an exhaustive study on the various aspects of sin and temptation but it is a good foundation. If you ask the Lord to help you put into practice the things you’ve learned here you will begin to gain more freedom and victory in your struggle with sin. May the Lord bless you as you continue to seek and grow in him!

Tom Brown
Elder of Spiritual Life
Sebring Friends Church

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