We’re all preachers in the sense that we should all be preaching God’s truth to ourselves. This is of particular importance when we’re fighting the temptation to sin. The temptation to sin comes to us in the form of a lie which seductively whispers in our ear, “This [sin of choice] is better”. Better than what? The lie is that your sin of choice is better than the alternative of choosing what is righteous for the glory of God! When we’re walking in the Spirit and thinking biblically, then, of course, we know this is not true, Jesus is always better, but in the moment of temptation it sounds right. This is why it’s so crucial for all Christians to become skilled in preaching truth to themselves.
What can we do to develop this skill? Well, you know, as I do, that temptation can come on fast and it can come on fierce, so we may not have time to run to the bookshelf and grab a Bible. Therefore, as Psalm 119:11 teaches, we need to store up God’s Word in our hearts so that “[we] might not sin against [Him]”. Fighting temptation is a huge reason why we memorize scripture. If we do this, we’ll have truth ready whenever and wherever we are tempted. You need to have verses like Psalm 16:11 memorized when you hear sin say to your heart, “I’m better”, so you can confidently reply, “No! “In [God’s] presence there is”fullness of joy and at [His] right hand are pleasures forevermore”.
Memorizing Scripture is key in the daily battle against sin, but if you’re like me, in the moment of temptation I sometimes find it takes me a while to flip through my mental concordance of Scripture to locate a pertinent verse to preach to myself. It helps me in those moments to have categories of truth ready to choose from. The following are three categories of truth that I hope will help you organize your preaching in those times of temptation. They come from Paul David Tripp’s book, Broken Down House. I’ve modified them a little bit. Here they are: 1) the attributes of God, 2) the victories of the cross, and 3) your future glory in Christ. When you’re battling sin, it helps to pose these categories to yourself in the form of questions. For example, 1) Which attributes of God’s character give me reason to obey right now? 2) What has Jesus purchased for me on the cross that gives me reason to obey right now? 3) What about heaven and the return of Christ gives me reason to obey right now? Based on what you know from each of these categories, answering these questions with God’s truth will help you in putting off the temptation and putting on righteousness for the glory of God.
My prayer is that you use these categories and become more skilled at preaching God’s truth to yourself but if don’t use them, find some way to access truth in the moment of temptation that works for you!