Top 7 Reasons People Come to Church: Temptations

Top-7Struggling with Temptation? Head to Church.

The title of this blog is an implied question: are you struggling with temptation? The answer is yes if you are a human. Temptation is something that affects every person – Christians and non-Christians.

Temptation, in and of itself, is not a sin.

The sin occurs when we give in to temptation, which happens more often than any of us would like to admit.

A 2013 Barna study found, “The research shows nearly half of Americans (44%) say they are tempted to spend too much time with media, including the Internet, television and video games. Another ‘new’ media-related temptation is to express anger or ‘go off’ on someone by text or email. Overall, one out of nine Americans (11%) say they often or sometimes feel tempted to do this. Though sexual sins are nothing new, viewing pornography online continues to escalate and take on new forms as the Internet and social media evolve. Nearly one in five Americans (18%) say they are tempted to view pornography or sexually inappropriate content online.”

Side Note: I highly recommend Steve Gallagher’s book At the Altar of Sexual Idolatry for anyone dealing with sexual temptation.

And those are just the temptations associated with technology.

Barna Research also lists significant percentages for the following temptations: eating too much (55%), spending too much money (44%), gossiping (26%), lying or cheating (12%), abusing alcohol or drugs (11%), and procrastinating (60%).

If you are human, you will be tempted, plain and simple; however, just because you are tempted doesn’t mean you have to give in to the storms of temptations.

When you place your faith in the Lord, you receive the power needed to withstand whatever temptations you face.

In the book Unshakable: Standing Strong When Things Go Wrong, Nelson Searcy writes, “The goal, then, is not to stop being tempted, but to discover how to stand against the temptation – or, to put it another way, to discover how to consistently choose God’s best over the counterfeit pleasure that is the center of temptation’s ploy.”

How do you remain unshakeable in the face of temptation? That’s what we are discussing in today’s blog.

What Temptation Really Is

Before we discuss how to remain unshakeable in the face of temptation, we need to discuss what temptation really is.

Searcy explains, “Temptation is quite the chameleon. Taking on many different forms, it sneaks into your consciousness and aligns itself with your unhealthiest impulses and desires.”

Giving in to those impulses and desires turns us away from what God wants for us.

Think about Adam and Eve. The tree of knowledge was a temptation. When they gave in to the temptation to eat its fruit, sin entered the world.

Since their sinful choice, humanity has continued to face temptation and either give in to sin or resist temptation.

Now, let’s move on to discussing how to not give in and sin when you face temptation.

Admit You are Tempted

First, admit you are tempted. As we already discussed, we will all be tempted.

Rather than try to deny it, be brutally honest with yourself about what is tempting you – and be honest with God about your struggles with temptation (He already knows).

Searcy writes, “Denying temptation makes you more susceptible to it. Whatever you resist will persist. But when you admit that you are tempted, you open the door for God’s power to work in your situation.”

No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. – 1 Corinthians 10:13

Recognize Temptation for What It Really Is

Rather than simply accepting that temptation is something all humans face, you must also recognize how the devil uses temptation to lure us away from God.

Searcy explains, “He [the devil] wants to rob of us of God’s best, and temptation is his go-to trick. But God wants more for us. […] So when we find ourselves being tempted away from what we know is right, we must look to God and acknowledge that we are in the midst of a spiritual battle. When we can recognize our temptation as the tactic it is, we will be better able to overcome it.”

Avoid the Things That Tempt You

Yes, God gives us the strength and power to find our way out of a tempting situation; however, you get to decide how difficult the pathway out will be.

For example, if you struggle with alcohol, going to a party with friends that will encourage you to drink will be much harder than if you avoid the party (or these friends).

Put Up Guardrails

One way to avoid temptation is to put up guardrails ahead of time.

For example, since we are all susceptible to temptation, avoid saying, “I would never…”

Instead, put up guardrails to prevent you from ever doing XYZ.

This may look like saying you won’t be in your office with a member of the opposite sex without a window or door being open.

Searcy adds, “If you and I aren’t careful, seemingly inconsequential decisions have the potential to put us on a slippery slope toward powerful temptation. Better to be overly alert and stay far from sin than to walk too close to the edge and get pushed over.”

Focus on God Rather Than the Temptation

When you are tempted, it can consume your thoughts if you let it.

That’s what temptation does – it gets into your mind, and you dwell on it until you give in.

However, if you choose to turn your focus to God instead of the temptation, you will be able to withstand it.

As you focus your attention on God, He will show you the way out.

How the Church Helps Those Struggling with Temptation

Since temptation is a struggle we all have to learn to face head-on, it helps to have a support structure around us to help.

This is what you’ll find at church.

You’ll find leaders to give you tips on how to avoid sin, help you turn your focus to God.

Plus, as you get to know others in the church, you will have people who can hold you accountable.

God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. – James 1:12

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