#Lent14 — Overcoming Temptation

As we have done in previous Lent and Advent seasons, we are again blogging our way through the Lenten Lectionary Texts.  In this season, our prayer is that we will bless and inspire you in your walk between the Now and Not-Yet of the Kingdom.  We pray that our meditations will be life-giving to you in your journey.

A reading from the Gospel According to Matthew.

Then the Spirit led Jesus into the desert to be tempted by the devil.  Jesus fasted for forty days and nights.  After this, he was very hungry.  The devil came to Jesus to tempt him, saying, “If you are the Son of God, tell these rocks to become bread.”

Jesus answered, “It is written in the Scriptures, ‘A person lives not on bread alone, but by everything God says.’”

Then the devil led Jesus to the holy city of Jerusalem and put him on a high place of the Temple.  The devil said, “If you are the Son of God, jump down, because it is written in the Scriptures: ‘He has put his angels in charge of you.  They will catch you in their hands so that you will not hit your foot on a rock.’”

Jesus answered him, “It also says in the Scriptures, ‘Do not test the Lord your God.’”

Then the devil led Jesus to the top of a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and all their splendor.  The devil said, “If you will bow down and worship me, I will give you all these things.”

Jesus said to the devil, “God away from me, Satan!  It is written in the Scriptures, ‘You must worship the Lord your God and serve only him.’”

So the devil left Jesus, and angels came and took care of him.

Matthew 4:1-11 (NCV)

This is the Word of the Lord.

Temptation.  We are all faced with it.  We all have to deal with it.  We all have to learn how to say, “No.”  But, it’s hard to do.

I wish that overcoming temptation was as easy as just ignoring it.  You know, the whole “ignore-it-and-it’ll-go-away” idea.  But, alas, that doesn’t work.  Temptation still shows up.  Still hangs around.  Still, well, tempts.

Or, maybe, we could just walk away from that which tempts us.  Just turn off the television when that racy show comes on, or log off the internet when that picture pops up on Facebook.  Easy, right?  Yet, again, it doesn’t work.  The television still sits in the room.  The internet is still accessible.  Temptation still waits in the shadows.

Jesus shows us a different way.  When He was faced with temptation, He turned to Scripture.  He combatted the desires of His flesh with the Word of God.  Staring temptation square in the eyes, He quoted Scripture.  Reminding His flesh of what God has said about who He is and Whose He is.

Jesus’ response to temptation is the model for how we should respond.

The reality is that no other method of overcoming temptation will be successful.  We must turn to the Word of God, and find out what He says about the situation.  No matter what the temptation is.  Whether it’s eating that fifteenth piece of chocolate or looking at the photo of that scantily clad person, God has something to say about it.

There’s a verse in Psalm 119 that says this:

“I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.” — Psalm 119:11 (ESV)

Dealing with temptation isn’t something that you wait until you are tempted to do.  It’s something that you do long before the temptation ever shows up.  Store up the Word of God in your heart.  Then, when you are tempted, use the Word of God to overcome it.

If there is something by which you find yourself repeatedly tempted, then find the Scriptures that address that and memorize them.  Meditate on them.  Pray them.  Let them soak deep into your heart and mind and spirit.

When you have the Word deep in you, then when temptation comes, you have a weapon.  You have an exit strategy.  You have a way to overcome temptation.

What is it that God has to say about your particular temptation?  Find out.  Memorize it.  Meditate on it.  Pray it.

Below are a few temptations with which we are faced or things with which we struggle.  Below them are Scripture references dealing with each.  These are just a start, and are by no means comprehensive (the search feature over at BibleGateway can be used to help you find more).  Yet, memorizing, meditating on, and praying these will be a good start to overcoming temptation.

Anger

Psalm 37:8; Proverbs 10:12; 14:16, 17, 29; 15:1, 18; 16:32; 19:11; 29:22; Matthew 5:22-24; Romans 12:19; Ephesians 4:1-3, 26, 31-32; Colossians 3:8, 21; 2 Timothy 2:24; James 1:19-20

Apathy

Deuteronomy 6:5; Proverbs 13:12; Galatians 6:8-9; Ephesians 4:18-24; Philippians 3:13-14; 1 Peter 1:3; Titus 2:11-14; 1 John 3:2-3

Bitterness

Proverbs 23:17-18; Matthew 6:14-15; Luke 23:24; Acts 8:23; Romans 3:14; 12:14-21; 1 Corinthians 13:4; Galatians 5:24-26; Ephesians 4:31; Colossians 3:8-9; Hebrews 12:15; James 3:14; 1 Peter 2:23

Comfort

Psalm 23:4; 71:21; 119:50, 52, 76; Isaiah 40:1; 51:3; 61:1-2; Jeremiah 31:13; Matthew 5:4; 1 Corinthians 14:3; Philippians 2:1-2; 2 Corinthians 1:3-7; Revelation 21:4

Compassion

Deuteronomy 32:36; 2 Chronicles 30:9; Psalm 51:1; 77:9; 102:13; 103:4, 13; 116:5; 145:9; Isaiah 54:7-8, 10; Lamentations 3:22-23, 32; Matthew 9:36; 14:14; Luke 15:20; Romans 9:15; 2 Corinthians 1:3; Colossians 3:12

Compulsiveness

John 15:5; Galatians 5:22-25; Philippians 4:6-8; 2 Peter 1:5-8

Criticism

Matthew 7:1-5; Luke 6:37-42; John 7:24; Romans 2:1; 14:1-15, 19; Galatians 6:1; Ephesians 4:29; Colossians 3:8-14; 4:6

Depression

1 Kings 19:4; Psalm 38; 42:3-6, 11; Proverbs 13:12; Isaiah 26:3-4; Matthew 11:28-30; Mark 11:25; Luke 10:19; Romans 8:28, 31, 37; Philippians 4:4-13; 2 Timothy 1:7; Hebrews 4:14-16; 12:1-2, 28; James 4:6-10; 1 Peter 2:24-25; 2 Peter 1:3-4; 1 John 4:9

Disobedience

Deuteronomy 11:26-28; 1 Samuel 12:15; Isaiah 1:18-20; Malachi 4:6; Luke 6:46; John 14:15, 21; Ephesians 6:1-2; 1 John 5:2-4

Dissatisfaction

Psalm 34:10; 37:3; 63:1-5; 103:1-5; Proverbs 12:14; Isaiah 44:3; Joel 2:26-27; Matthew 5:6; 2 Corinthians 9:8; 2 Peter 1:3; Philippians 4:11-13, 19

Doubt

Proverbs 3:5; Matthew 14:31; Mark 9:24; 11:23-25; Luke 12:29-31; Colossians 1:23; Romans 10:17; 14:22-23; Hebrews 11:1, 6; James 1:5-8

Envy/Jealous

Proverbs 14:30; 23:17; 24:1-2; Mark 7:20-23; Galatians 5:22-23; 1 Corinthians 3:3; 13:4; Philippians 4:11; 1 Timothy 6:3-6; James 3:14-16

Failure

1 Chronicles 28:20; Psalm 89:28; Proverbs 15:22; 1 Corinthians 3:8a; Lamentations 3:22-24; 1 Peter 1:6-7

Fear of Man/Things

Exodus 14:13-14; Joshua 1:5-9; Psalm 23:4; 27:1-3; 34:1-4; 46:1-2; Isaiah 41:10; Luke 8:50; John 16:33; 2 Timothy 1:7; Hebrews 13:5-6; 1 John 4:18

Forgiveness

Psalm 32:1-3; 103:2-3, 12; 130:4; Isaiah 1:18; 43:25; Mark 11:25; Matthew 6:12-15; 18:21-22; John 20:22-23; Acts 13:38; Ephesians 1:7; 4:32; 1 John 1:9; Colossians 3:12-14

Gossip

Psalm 19:14; 34:13; Proverbs 11:13; 17:9; 18:21; 20:19; 26:20; Matthew 12:34; James 1:26; 4:11-12

Greed

Deuteronomy 15:7; Proverbs 1:19; 15:16, 27; Ecclesiastes 5:10; Jeremiah 17:11; Acts 20:35; Galatians 6:10; Philippians 4:19; 1 Timothy 6:9-11

Guilt

2 Chronicles 30:9; Isaiah 43:25; 55:7; 1 John 1:7, 9; 2:12; 4:18

Hatred

Proverbs 10:12; 1 John 2:9-11

Honesty

Exodus 20:16; Leviticus 19:35-36; Isaiah 33:15-16; Colossians 3:9-10

Inferiority

Psalm 139; 2 Corinthians 3:5; 5:17; Ephesians 1:5-7; James 4:10; 1 John 4:4

Insecurity

Joshua 1:9; Psalm 34:18; 91; 139; 145:18; Proverbs 3:5; 1 John 3:1; Isaiah 26:3-4; 43:1-3a; 1 John 5:14; Jeremiah 29:11-13; Philippians 1:6

Laziness

Romans 12:11; Ephesians 4:28; 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12

Loneliness

Genesis 28:15; Exodus 33:14; Deuteronomy 31:6; 33:26; Joshua 1:9; Psalm 34:18; 139; Isaiah 41:10; 43:2; 54:10; John 14:16, 18; Romans 8:35-39; Hebrews 13:5-6

Lust

Deuteronomy 6:4-5; Galatians 5:16; Romans 6:11-14; 13:14; 1 John 2:17; 2 Timothy 2:22; Titus 2:11-12; 1 Corinthians 6:19-20; Jude 20-21

Patience

Ecclesiastes 7:8; Isaiah 25:9; 26:8; 33:2; Luke 21:19; Romans 12:12; Hebrews 10:36; James 1:4; 2 Peter 1:6-9

Pride

1 Samuel 2:3; Proverbs 8:13; 11:2; Jeremiah 9:23-24; Matthew 23:12; Mark 9:35; Romans 12:3; Galatians 6:3; Revelation 3:17-18; 2 Corinthians 10:5, 17-18

Rebellion

Exodus 34:6-7; Deuteronomy 28:15; 30;15-19; 1 Samuel 12:14; 15:22-23; Ezekiel 12:2; Matthew 26:39; Ephesians 5:21; James 4:7-8; 1 Peter 5:5-6

Rejection

Psalm 18:28, 35; 27:19; 34:18; 42:11; 91:14-16; 94:14; Isaiah 42:16; 54:10; John 14:18; Hebrews 13:5-6

Resentment

Leviticus 19:18; Ephesians 4:1-3, 31-32; James 3:14-18; 1 Peter 3:8-9

Selfishness

Proverbs 28:27; Matthew 19:21-22; Romans 15:1-2; 1 Corinthians 10:24; Galatians 6:2; 1 John 4:17-18

Shame

Psalm 119:6, 80; Proverbs 3:35; 11:2; Isaiah 50:7; Romans 10:11; Philippians 1:20; 1 John 2:28

Sorrow

Psalm 30:5; 126:5-6; Isaiah 25:8; 60:20; Matthew 5:4; John 14:1, 18; 16:33

Temptation

Matthew 6:13; 26:41; James 1:2-3, 12; 1 Corinthians 10:13

Worry

Joshua 1:9; 10:25; 1 Kings 8:56; Psalm 34:14-17; 55:22; 91; Proverbs 3:24-26; 12:25; 16:3-4; Isaiah 26:3-4; 43:1-2; Matthew 6:25-34; 11:28-30; Luke 12:34-36; John 14:1, 27; 16:33; Romans 8:28; Philippians 4:6-13; Hebrews 13:5-6; 1 Peter 5:7

 

Gutenberg Bible, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.

Gutenberg Bible, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.

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