Today, you can be certain that you will be tempted to sin. We are sinful people surrounded by other sinful people living in a world where Satan “prowls around like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). You will be tempted to sin today, and on multiple occasions. This is not something you or I have to wonder about, but I do wonder how you will respond to those temptations. It will not do to simply “Just Say ‘No'”; you must be more strategic than that. Every temptation we experience is a lie. It’s a lie that says, “Sin is sweeter… God can’t give you what sin can… you won’t regret this”. To simply say “no” is to say to temptation “Come back in a few minutes”. We must say “no” to the temptation, but then replace its lie with truth. As Paul says, we need to “Set [our] minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth” (Colossians 3:2).
What does setting our minds on things above look like practically? If you’re anything like me, when temptation jumps out of the bushes and surprises you, you spend precious seconds (or even minutes) fumbling around looking for your weapon, all the while temptation is drawing closer and beginning to corner you. What I mean is, we are often unprepared for temptation when it comes, so we try digging through our mental concordance of verses (like me trying to find something in my wife’s purse) and by the time we think we’ve found some truth that applies, the temptation has gained more ground and has become harder to resist. So what can you do to be more prepared? First, let me suggest that you do some serious heart examination to find the ways you are most often tempted to sin. Second, take a handful of Bible verses and theological truths and use them to craft short, but accurate statements that you can easily memorize and remind yourself of in the heat of temptation. Battling temptation can be brutal and fierce, and you need some weaponry that you can access quickly because you may only have a few seconds before that temptation grips you. So craft some pithy, theologically-potent statements to use in replacing the temptations you experience. Here are some that I use: “God made me; He knows what will bring me the most joy”, “Jesus died to save me from sin, not to give me more opportunity to sin”, “God has been nothing but faithful to me; I must be faithful to Him”, and “There are people in hell right now who committed the same sin I am craving” These statements help me cut through all the lies of sin and remember what is true so that I can live in that truth. What statements will you use? Leave a comment, I’d love to hear them!