The only way to get rid of a temptation is to yield to it,” wrote Oscar Wilde in “The Picture of Dorian Gray”, “Resist it, and your soul grows sick with longing for the things it has forbidden to itself.”
“Temptation is impossible for me to resist,” admitted actor Tom Sizemore, “Come on. This is Hollywood. It’s in the job description.”
Don Herold opined, “Why resist temptation? There will always be more.”
The late 20th century Hollywood actress, Mae West, once flaunted her indiscretions by cracking, “I generally avoid temptation unless I can’t resist it.”
Then it was Mark Twain who quipped, “I deal with temptation by yielding to it.”
The world’s view of dealing with sin, Satan, and temptation is 180 degrees opposed to God’s divine counsel.
Consider these three Biblical admonitions.
“Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” –Jas. 4:7-8
“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. 9 Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world.” –I Pet. 5:8-9
“Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.” –Eph 6:13
The keyword in each of these texts is “resist.”
To resist is to stand against. To oppose. To withstand. To refuse. To defy. To confront. To combat. To curb. And to abstain from.
How can we resist the temptations that so strongly appeal to our fleshly desires?
#1 Realize the Devil is Real.
Satan is not the overworked imagination of fundamentalist preachers. He’s not a joke. He’s not a myth. He’s real. God says so. Jesus confronted him. And the apostles warned against his devious devices and wanton wiles.
Satan is our enemy. He wants to destroy us. And he will use any tool, trick or temptation to lead us away from the Lord and a life of holiness.
#2 Understand the seriousness of sin.
Too often we treat sin flippantly. Playfully. And frivolously. We make excuses for sin. We rationalize with trite expressions like “I’m only human.” “It’s no big deal.” “Everybody does it.”
Yet, the seriousness of sin is seen in what it produces. Hurt. Heartache. Hopelessness. Broken homes. Ruined relationships. Divided churches.
Never forget that “Sin will take you farther than you want to go, keep you longer than you want to stay, and cost you more than you want to pay.”
#3 Decide to Draw Near to God
Resisting sin and Satan is easier when we’re actively seeking fellowship with God. When we commune with Him through His Word, communicate with Him in prayer, and purposefully consecrate ourselves to be more like Him, it’s easier to resist Satan.
A. W. Tozer, in his essay, “Nearness Is Likeness” observes that the more we are like God, the nearer we are to God. He illustrates it by saying, “I may be sitting in my living room with my Siamese cat on my lap, and my wife may be twenty feet away in the kitchen, yet I am nearer to my wife than to the cat because the cat is unlike me. We have very little in common.”
While temptation may lurk close by, remember we’re created in the image of the Almighty. We’re like Him. We have nothing in common with the Devil. The more we draw close to God, the easier it is to resist the Devil.
#4 Purposefully Purify your Heart.
“Purify your heart,” James exhorts. “Keep yourself pure,” Paul admonishes Timothy. “Think on things that are pure,” Paul advises the Philippians. When we commit to purity of heart, then we resist evil enticements. Salacious literature. Ungodly influences. Indecent entertainment. Raunchy music. Obscene internet sites. And coarse, crude, vulgar jokes.
#5 Put on the Christian armor.
Ephesians 6 identifies the weapons of our spiritual warfare, both offensive and defensive to fight against Satan’s schemes and resist his advances. This calls for decisive action. Unwavering commitment. Unshakeable devotion. And unfaltering courage.
In the words of Thomas Brooks
Satan promises the best, but pays with the worst;
he promises honor and pays with disgrace;
he promises pleasure and pays with pain;
he promises profit and pays with loss;
he promises life and pays with death.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman