Day 27: Defeating Temptation – 40 Days of Purpose-Driven Life

Purpose #3: You Were Created to Become Like Christ

Point to Ponder: There is always a way out.

Verse to Remember: “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.” — I Corinthians 10:13b (NLT)

Question to Consider: Who could I ask to be a spiritual partner to help me defeat a persistent temptation by praying for me?

[Read More] thoughts on Day 27 of Rick Warren‘s Purpose-Driven Life* including the keys to overcoming sin.

I hardly consider myself an expert on the subject of “defeating temptation”, but I have seen God dramatically conquer persistent sin in my life. Which also means I’ve experienced “persistent sin” — years of addictive and compulsive behaviors, which no amount of “good intentions” ever cured. So, while I don’t claim to have all the answers, I do have a fair idea of what works and what doesn’t, and I find Rick’s “four biblical keys” match my experience:

1. Refocus your attention on something else

“It may surprise you that nowhere in the Bible are we told to ‘resist temptation.’ We are told to ‘resist the devil,’ but that is very different…we are advised to refocus our attention because resisting a thought doesn’t work. It only intensifies our focus on the wrong thing.”

2. Reveal your struggle to a godly friend or support group

“Some temptations are only overcome with the help of a partner who prays for you, encourages you, and holds you accountable… The reason we hide our faults is pride… Some problems are too ingrained, too habitual, and too big to solve on your own.”

3. Resist the Devil

“After we have humbled ourselves and submitted to God, we are then told to defy the Devil… accept God’s salvation… use the Word of God as your weapon… You can’t bluff satan with logic or your opinion, but you can use the weapon that makes him tremble — the truth of God.”

4. Realize your vulnerability

“Given the right circumstances, any of us are capable of any sin. We must never let down our guard and think we’re beyond temptation.”

This is a powerful teaching, and goes much deeper than the usual “just try harder and quote scripture” mantras offered by Christians who don’t want to face people’s deep shame (including their own). Yes, those are valuable activities, but Rick provides an impressive framework for understanding how and when to perform them. I might summarize it as:

a. Fight tempting thoughts by choosing to focus on something else
b. Conquer compulsive actions by confessing sins amidst healthy accountability, to dissolve shame and pride
c. Defend against Satanic deception by standing on God’s Word
d. Avoid needless temptation by recognizing we’re always vulnerable to it

Defeating sin is not easy. But it is possible, and Rick’s advice — building Character, embracing Community, and acknowledging the Reality of God’s word, in all Humility — is a fantastic place to start

Prayer: God, I thank you for the dramatic victories you given me in the past over besetting sins. I thank you especially for John Isaacs who counseled me through the many small successes and temporary defeats along the way that enabled those breakthroughs. I am grateful for the many wonderful men who have demonstrated humility, vulnerability, and accountability in their relationship to me. I am especially grateful to my parents, who demonstrated the value of both holiness and grace in all they did. May I continue to live up to all I have received, in, through, and for the sake of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen.