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Change your mind. Change your life.

 

Temptation & Triggers

Because Jesus experienced temptation when he suffered, he is able to help others when they are tempted. You struggle against sin, but your struggles haven't killed you. -- Hebrews 2:18;12:4

1 Corinthians 10:13 says, "Remember that the temptations that come into your life are no different from what others experience, And God is faithful. He will keep the temptation from becoming so strong that you can't stand up against it. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you will not give in to it." (NLT)tempted

There are certain situations that make you more vulnerable to temptation. You must manage your mind and monitor your media intake. Ads for diets, as well as other products and services that are counterproductive to healthy living and recovery are everywhere. But, they are a reality of the world we live in. Learning to "navigate" through these temptations (triggers) is part of this work. "

Some circumstances will cause you to fall immediately, while others won't bother you too much. These situations are unique to your weaknesses. You need to identify them, because Satan already knows them. How many times has the enemy (Satan) tempted you to think, "A good God wouldn't keep me from this, would he? Satan knows exactly how to get you to fall. He is constantly working to put you into those circumstances.

"Stay alert. The devil is poised to pounce, and would like nothing better than to catch you napping." -- 1 Peter 5:8

Ask yourself when you are most tempted to eat, binge, purge. Is there a particular day of week, time of day? Where are most tempted? Work, home? Who is with me when I'm tempted? Ask, "How do I usually feel when I'm most tempted". Is when you're lonely, depressed, bored, or under stress? Identify your patterns of temptation and be prepared to confront those situations. The Bible says to be ready to face temptation. "Don't give the devil a chance". -- Ephesians 4:27. This is part of overcoming temptation. And every temptation is an opportunity to do good.

It's always that way when the enemy (Satan) gets us to concentrate on the temptation instead of God. God has promised never to allow to give you more than you can handle. He won't permit a temptation that you can't overcome. But, you must do your part by practicing Biblical teachings to defeat and overcome temptation. Temptation will pester you, but temptation will not master you. What hope this brings!

"You cannot keep birds from flying over your head,
but you can keep them from building a nest in your hair"
-- Martin Luther

How Temptation Works

Satan would tell you that because of what has been done to you, or happened to you, you will never be whole, well, healed, set free, or of any value to God. That is a lie! Any thought that takes you back to your life before Christ and torments you is not from God.

Satan wants you to focus on what you were. He hates that you are now a new creature, and so he wages war on your mind. If Satan can cause you to focus your thoughts on things which are past, then you cannot dwell or concentrate on what God has before you. Satan's goal is to set up strongholds or fortresses in our minds.

From the Bible we learn that temptation follows a 4-step process (which Satan used both on Adam and Eve, and on Jesus).

  1. One: Satan identifies a desire inside of you. We think temptation is 'around us', but God says it begins 'within us'. If you didn't have the internal desire, the temptation would not attract you. Temptation always starts in your mind, not in circumstances. Jesus said, "For from within, out of a person's heart, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, wickedness, deceit, eagerness for lustful pleasure, envy, slander, pride and foolishness. All these vile things come from within" -- Mark 7:21-23. James tells us, "a whole army of evil desires within you".
  2. Two: Doubt. Satan tries to get you to doubt what God has said, "What is really wrong? Did God really say not to do it? Didn't God mean this for someone else? Doesn't God want me to be happy?" The Bible warns, "Watch out! Don't let evil thoughts or doubts make any of you turn from the living God" -- Hebrews 3:12
  3. Three: Deception. Satan is incapable of telling the truth and is called 'The Father of Lies'. Anything he tells you will be untrue or just a half-truth. He offers his lies to replace what God has already said in his Word. Satan says, "You will not die. You'll be wiser like God. You can get away with it. No one will ever know. Food will solve your problem. Besides, look at all the other girls doing it. It's just a little sin". But a little sin is like being a little pregnant, it will eventually show.
  4. Four: Disobedience. You finally act on the thought you've been toying with in your mind. What began as an idea now becomes behavior. You give in to whatever got your attention. You believe Satan's lies and fall into the trap that James warns about, "We are tempted when we are drawn away and trapped by our own evil desires. Then our evil desires conceive and give birth to sin; and sin, when it is full grown, gives birth to death. Do not be deceived, my dear friends." - James 1:14-16

Our responsibility is to stop him. In warfare it's strategic to set up a beach head in your enemy's territory. This gives you a base of operations. And it is the same in spiritual warfare between Satan and us. When you dwell on things that are not of God, or that are against God, you are giving the enemy ground on which he can erect a stronghold or fortress.

Happy is the man who doesn't give in and do wrong when he is tempted, for afterwards he will get as his reward the crown of life that God has promised those who love him. -- James 1:12

Overcoming Temptation

  1. Refuse to be intimidated. Many Christians are frightened and demoralized by tempting thoughts, feeling guilty that they aren't 'beyond' temptation. They feel ashamed just for being tempted. This is a misunderstanding -- you will never outgrow temptation. In one sense you can consider temptation a compliment, because Satan doesn't tempt the evildoers. Temptation is a sign that Satan hates you -- not a sign of weakness or worldliness. Be realistic about the inevitability of temptation; you will never be able to avoid it completely. In fact, the closer you get to God, the more Satan will try to tempt you. The Bible says, "When you are tempted,..." not "if". Paul advises, "Remember that the temptations that come into your life are not different from what others experience." -- 1 Corinthians 10:13. You can't keep the Devil from suggesting thoughts, but you can choose not to dwell on them, or act on them. Treat it as distraction and refocus on God.
  2. Recognize your pattern of temptation and be prepared. There are certain situations that you more vulnerable. Wise planning reduces temptation. Follow the advice of Proverbs: "Plan carefully what you do ... Avoid evil and walk straight ahead. Don't go one step to the right way." "God's people avoid evil ways, and they protect themselves by watching where they go."
  3. Request help from God. God wants you to ask him for help. He's always there. He says, "Call on me in times of trouble. I will rescue you, and you will honor me". --Psalm 50:15. The Bible says that our cries for help will be heard. Jesus "understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same temptation we do, yet he did not sin". -- Hebrews 4:15. God's love is everlasting and his patience endures forever. Even if you have to cry out for help a thousand times a day, remember He is listening and wants to you give mercy and grace. Pray, and ask Him for the strength and power to do the right thing, and then expect Him to answer you.

Temptation keeps us dependent on God. Instead of giving up, look to God, and expect Him to help you. "When people are tempted and still continue strong, they should be happy. After they have proved their faith, God will reward them with life forever." -- James 1:12

God's Promise

Jesus understands every weakness of ours, because he was tempted in every way we are. So whenever we are in need, we should come bravely before the throne of God. There we will be treated with undeserved kindness, and we will find help. (Heb. 4:15-16)

Remember that the temptations that come into your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will keep the temptation from becoming so strong that you can't stand up against it. When you are tempted, He will show you a way out so that you will not give in to it. It is easier to stay away from temptation and triggers, that to get out of it (temptation).

Take Action!

Today when you're tempted by food, stop! For example, if you have to stop to take a pee, don't go to McDonald's, go to a gas station. If your need to buy a magazine, go to the drugstore and not the grocery store. Ask God to show you a way through the trail or away from the temptation. Then follow His direction, and experience the victory you have in Him.

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. -- Gal. 2:20

When Christ lives in us, we can acknowledge and defeat temptation!


Excerpts from "The Purpose Driven Life" by Rick Warren, Growing Through Temptation and "The 21-Day Habit"

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