Keep watching and praying that you may not come into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. MARK 14:38
This is a subject that I feel that there is not a lot said about in christian circles, we find temptation uncomfortable to discuss. We try to avoid it,yet it is something that we are all prone to. It can do real damage to a person’s walk with God.
When I decided to write about this I asked for God’s guidance, he answered me the next day in my Bible reading in 1 Kings 13. King Solomon had died and his son Rehoboam was now king but only of Judah, Jeroboam the returned exile was king of Israel. Jeroboam led Israel into worshipping false Gods. God sent a prophet from Judah to Israel with strict guidance on the message and then to return to Judah. Sadly the prophet was tempted by another who lied to him, and he disobeyed God’s original ordinance which cost him his life.
A point worth taking note of is that the temptation took the prophet away from God and His protection. When facing temptation we should stop and ask will it take us out of God’s will and therefore away from His protection?
We often ask what appears to be a good question; “why does God allow me to be tempted?” The reasoning for this is to build up character and spiritual strength in His people. Satan does the tempting, setting the lure for the unwary soul, God trusts us to manage our own response and spiritual life. God allowed Satan to tempt Job in the Old Testament by taking all he had and even afflicting his body, but Job held strong and did not blame God. After his trials of temptation his reward was great! The letter of James tells us that such trials of faith produce endurance and build character.
There is a limit to how much temptation a person can withstand, God knows our limit. 1 Corinthians 10:13 tells us that “God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.”
We are responsible for our own response to temptation. We need to “be on the alert. Your [our] adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” 1Peter5:8. It is important that we “keep watching and praying that you may not come into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Mark14:38. We are advised here to “watch” which is to take common sense precautions against areas of known weakness. But this goes in hand with seeking God’s protection by “praying” that He will guide us daily. By submitting to God we take a stand against Satan (James4:7) and he will flee from us.
Our Saviour Jesus Christ understands temptation all too well, yes He was the Son of God but He had a human body on earth. He was tempted in every way just as every man has been, but He withstood the temptation and ŕemained sinless (Hebrews4:15). He knows your pain from firsthand experience! In the garden of Gethsemane after the Passover Supper Jesus instructs the disciples to “pray that you may not enter into temptation“(Luke 22:40b). He knew the sorrow and the weakness of their humanity made them vulnerable to temptation, hence when He returns to them and finds them asleep He further instructs them “why are you sleeping? Rise and pray that you may not enter into temptation.”(Luke22:46). We are like them in that the weakness of our bodies make us vulnerable to temptation, but by staying alert and praying we can withstand temptation rather than “entering into temptation.”
So what guidelines can we take from this? We must be clear that Satan will lie to us, after all he lied in the Garden of Eden. He will tell you facing temptation is a sin and failure, that you might as well give in to what he offers…that is a lie! Our Lord Jesus was tempted, He stood firm and rebuked satan. In the face of temptation it is a useful weapon to know some good scripture verses by memory to quote for yourself and at satan, maybe verses quoted in this text. This takes us to the first of two steps of self defence; soak yourself in the Word of God. Filling your mind and heart with the Bible will leave little space for sin in your life! The second step is one of common sense action, be careful what company you keep, what books you read, what tv/movies you watch. It is important that we need to divert our attention from areas of weakness, where we are at most risk of surrendering to temptation.
Falling to temptation is not the end, despite what satan tells us. Our Father God is a compassionate God who forgives those who repent of sin. King David was a sinner when he committed adultery and murder, but he repented and returned to God. My prayer would be that this short guide to temptation has been helpful to any who are hurting.
Father God, thankyou for your Compassion to me that You redeemed me through Jesus Christ my Lord and Saviour. You know my weaknesses Father that I lay before You, I repent of any sin and ask that You lead me away from temptation. Build me up in Your Word and draw me closer to You, saving me from the evil one and sin. Amen.