“I may not be able to keep the birds from flying over my head, but I can keep them from making a nest in my hair.” This old saying has been around for a long time and makes a wonderful application concerning the matter of temptation. Every person who has ever lived has faced temptation. You see, temptation is inevitable. It is going to come and you cannot stop it. But, while it is true that you cannot prevent temptation from coming your way, it is also true that you can be victorious over it. You can be successful in “Overcoming Temptation.”
It has been said that temptation divides the world into two separate classes. First, there are those who give in and are defeated by their temptations. Then, there are those who meet their temptation successfully and as a result gain strength of character through overcoming them. To the one they are stumbling-blocks; to the other they are stepping-stones. To the one they are hindrances; to the other they are helps. Those individuals who face temptations and succumb to them experience sorrow, but those who face temptations and resist them experience joy. You see, it’s not the fact of temptation but rather the way we respond to it that counts.
Every believer can and will be tempted, but they can also know the joy of “Overcoming Temptation.” This lesson is designed to help you deal with temptation when it comes. In order to do this you must understand what the Bible has to say concerning what temptation is, where temptation comes from, and
how you, as a believer, can be successful in “Overcoming Temptation.”
I. THE REALITY OF TEMPTATION
A. Everyone Must Face Temptation.
1. What is temptation?
a. Webster’s dictionary defines temptation as the enticement to do wrong by promise of pleasure or gain.
b. In the Bible, the word temptation is used as an inducement to do evil or solicitation to sin.
Note: The word “temptation” is also used in a positive way in Scripture to indicate a trial or test.
2. Temptation comes in many shapes and forms.
a. We may be tempted to cheat on a test, tell a lie, take something that does not belong to us, buy something we know we cannot afford, or even sleep in on Sunday morning and miss church.
b. Though temptation comes in many different forms, it always follows the same process; the temptation is presented to us as bait, and then, our inner desire is attracted to that bait.
B. Temptation Is Not Sin.
1. Some view temptation and sin as being equal, but temptation itself is not sin. Sin occurs with yielding.
a. “But every man is_____, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath_____, it bringeth forth_____” (James 1:14-15)
b. Someone has compared sin and temptation this way: “Temptation is the tempter looking through the keyhole into the room where you are living; sin is drawing back the bolt thus making it possible for him to enter in.”
2. Jesus Christ was tempted yet He did not sin.
a. “Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be_____of the devil.” (Matthew 4:1)
b. “For we have not an_____which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points_____like as we are, yet without_____.” (Hebrews 4:15)
II. THE ROOT OF THE TEMPTATION
A. All Temptation Comes In One Of Three Areas.
1. These three areas are the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. (I John 2:15-16)
a. The lust of the flesh is that strong consuming desire to do, feel, or experience something.
b. The lust of the eyes is that strong consuming desire to have, obtain, or possess something.
c. The pride of life is that strong consuming desire to be something, or to be thought as being something.
2. The serpent tempted Eve in all three of these areas.
a. “And when the woman saw that the tree was_____(lust of the flesh), and that it was ______ (lust of the eyes), and a tree to be_____(pride of life), she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her: and he did eat.” (Genesis 3:6)
b. Jesus was also tempted in all three of these areas by the devil in the wilderness, yet Jesus did not succumb to these temptations. He was without sin. (Hebrew 4:15)
B. All Temptation Comes From One Of Three Sources.
1. These three sources, according to the Bible, are the world, the flesh, and the devil.
a. “Love not_____, neither the things that are in_____. If any man love_____, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in_____, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of_____.” (I John 2:15-16)
b. “But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for_____, to fulfil the____thereof.” (Romans 13:14)
c. “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the_____, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may_____:” (I Peter 5:8)
2. God has promised us victory over all three of these.
a. “For whatsoever is born of God overcometh_____: and this is the victory that overcometh_____, even our faith.” (I John 5:4)
b. “This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of_____.” (Galatians 5:16)
c. “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist_____, and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7)
C. Temptation To Sin Is Never Directed By God.
1. God does not tempt men to do evil things.
a. “Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted_____neither tempteth he_____:” (James 1:13)
b. God allows man to be tempted with evil, but He is never the source of that temptation.
Note: “If God tempted us with evil we would have an excuse to sin. After all, who can say No to God?”
2. When the Bible speaks of God tempting a person it simply means that God tested that person.
a. “And it came to pass after these things, that God did_____Abraham...” (Genesis 22:1)
b. God may choose to test a man by way of problems and trials, but never will He tempt a man to do evil.
III. THE REMEDY FOR TEMPTATION
A. Every Christian Can Triumph Over Temptation.
1. Why does God allow us to be tempted?
a. God allows temptation to come our way, not to cause us to stumble, but rather to teach us to stand.
b. “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers_____; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh_____ (endurance). But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be_____and entire, wanting nothing.” (James 1:2-4)
c. Perfect, here, does not mean sinless. It means mature.
2. We must learn to endure temptation in order that we may grow in our Christian life.
a. There can be no maturity without endurance, and there can be no endurance without temptation.
b. According to the Bible, we should count the temptations that we face in life as what? (James 1:2)
c. The story is told of an elderly man who asked a boy to go with him into the woods to cut down some hickory trees to make axe handles. They had not traveled far into the woods when they came upon several young hickory trees. The boy said, “These trees would make good handles. Let’s cut them down.”
The old man said, “These trees in the lowlands have been protected from the storms which rage higher up. Let’s go to the heights where the trees have been rocked back and forth by fierce winds. Those trees have been hardened by the tempest and they will make much stronger axe handles!”
So it is with temptation. Those who have been exposed to temptation—rocked to and fro by the tempter, Satan, but who have not yielded—are made stronger.
3. As Christians, we do not have to yield to temptation.
a. While it is true that none of us can escape temptation entirely, at least not while here upon this earth, we can learn to endure it.
b. This is true regardless of when temptation comes, where temptation comes, and how temptation comes.
c. “There hath no_____taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be_____above that ye are able; but will with the_____also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” (I Corinthians 10:13)
B. How Can We Triumph Over Temptation?
1. We must remove the prospective of sin.
a. This simply means that we should avoid those things, places, and people that might cause us to sin.
b. We must be very careful that we do not do put ourselves in a place, position, or situation, to be tempted.
c. “Enter not into the_____of the wicked, and go not in the_____of evil men. Avoid it, pass not by it, turn from it, and pass away.” (Proverbs 4:14-15)
2. We must recognize the presence of the Spirit.
a. When Christ was tempted by the devil in the wilderness the Bible says He was led by the Spirit. (Luke 4:1)
b. During times of temptation in our life, we must remember that the Holy Spirit within us is ever present to help us overcome that temptation.
c. “Walk in the_____, and ye shall not fulfill the_____of the flesh.” (Galatians 5:16)
3. We must rely on the power of the Scriptures.
a. Whenever Jesus was tempted of the devil He always responded with the words, “It is written,” and then He quoted from the Bible.
b. Jesus not only knew the Word of God, He memorized it, meditated upon it, and made use of it in His daily life.
c. “Thy_____have I hid in mine heart, that I might not_____against thee.” (Psalm 119:11)
4. We must remember the provision of the Savior.
a. If we sin by yielding to temptation we need to confess our sin to God and seek His forgiveness.
b. “If we_____our sins, he is faithful and just to_____us our sin, and to_____us from all unrighteousness.” (I John 1:9)
Conclusion: As Christians we can live in victory, and we can overcome sin and temptation. (Memorize: I Corinthians 10:13)