Vince Miller’s new book, Battling Repetitive Sin, is a field guide for every Christian man who wants practical advice on how to stand against temptation. He’s an authority on men’s ministry. In this excerpt, Pastor Miller details five principles regarding temptation and how to deal with it.
In the third temptation of Jesus (Luke 4:9-13) , the Tempter uses Jesus’s strategy against him. The Devil resorts to using scripture, which Jesus has done every time in responded to temptation. The Tempter actually quotes a couple of scriptures from Psalms and uses them out of context. While it’s presented as a promise to Christ for this moment, the Psalmist never intended it to be used in this manner. But why does he do this? Because the Tempter knows the truth, and he knows the context of the truth, and he hopes that Jesus will act on his distorted presentation of the truth. In the end, he is hoping Jesus will self-justify an ungodly course of action.
While this wasn’t so alluring to Jesus, it is to us. When we are at our weakest, self-justification is the Tempter’s big appeal. We have thoughts that stir around in our mind and then we look for evidence to substantiate a course of action that benefits ourselves. Have you ever had those thoughts? Have you ever thought:
- No one will know.
- I’ll do it just this one time.
- A little bit won’t hurt.
- I won’t do it again.
- Most people do it anyway.
- It’s my right.
- I deserve it.
If you have ever had one of these thoughts, then you know what self-justification is. We have all done it. I have done it. It’s appealing to pursue our way instead of God’s way. And this is a great test of our personal faith.
But notice how Jesus responds: “And Jesus answered him, “It is said, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” (Luke 4:12) Jesus calls it how he sees it. Not a test just of him, but a test of God. And Jesus throws the Tempter the haymaker.
5 Helps Available to Every Man Responding to Temptation
1. Temptation is common.
Everyone is going to encounter temptation. Even Jesus Christ experienced it. Don’t be surprised about it. You are going to experience some today.
2. Temptation can be resisted.
Now I know Jesus is God, but he demonstrates we can resist it as humans. And you will not every time—but with help from the Spirit and Scripture we can resist more effectively.
3. Temptation is not a sin.
Throughout this situation Jesus never sins. And Satan knows he cannot make Jesus sin. Neither can he make you sin. He can, however, lead you right up to edge of it, but this is not a sin.
4. Temptation strikes when we are weak.
Satan came to Jesus when he was weakest, and he does the same in our life. It’s when we are hungry, angry, lonely, and tired that temptation seems strong.
5. Temptation is battled with scripture.
You may have noticed, but Jesus uses scripture every time he’s tempted. Actually, he selects texts from a rather small section of scripture in Deuteronomy chapters 6-8. And we, when we encounter temptation, need to go to scripture. In temptation we should run to God’s Word and lean on it for help and direction in the battle.
This article is an excerpt from Vince Miller’s book, Battling Repetitive Sin, and is used by permission.