The Bible makes it clear that we can overcome and not be overrun by temptation. While nobody is perfect, we don’t have to make that an excuse to dance with disobedience. We can be people of character and not compromise — but we choose.
In James 1:13-18, James gives us as pattern or process by which temptation occurs in our life. What do we know about temptation? James 1:13-15 says, “When tempted, no one should say, ‘God is tempting me.’ For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.”
What this is telling us is:
- God does not tempt you — James 1:13
- You tempt you — James 1:14
- Everyone is tempted — 1 Corinthians 10:13
- No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. (1 Corinthians 10:13)
- Temptation is not a sin, yielding to it is — Hebrews 4:15
- We can overcome temptation — 1 Corinthians 10:13
- But when you are tempted, He will provide a way out so that you can stand out under it. (1 Corinthians 10:13)
- Temptation has a pattern — James 1:14,15
The key is to understand the pattern or process that James outlines and “jump off the train” or break the cycle is with the help of the Lord. Will power is not enough. We need “God’s Power” to help us overcome and He is more than able. I summarize James’ teaching here in a 6-step pattern. Notice:
- Drawn — This is when we are enticed with a situation or temptation that would lead to disobedience.
- Desire — We need to understand that there are two natures in us—the flesh and the spirit, and the flesh is full of earthly appetites. We need to live by the Spirit (see Romans 7 and 8).
- Deception — When we see disobeying God as a good option to consider we are in deep trouble. Disobedience leads us away from God and toward destruction. And that is never good.
- Decision — Here we talk ourselves into why it is OK to disobey God, and then we decide to do so.
- Disobedience — This step in the pattern is when we actually yield fully to the temptation and act upon it.
- Destruction/Death — While we can make our own choices, we cannot choose our consequences. Disobedience always results in judgment and difficulty. (See David, Achan, Ananias and Sapphira, Adam and Eve, Samson)
We can overcome and not be overrun by temptation, but we need to be aware of temptation’s cycle or pattern. Jumping off the train in step 1 or 2 like Joseph did (Genesis 39) and Jesus did (Matthew 4) is the way to freedom and victory. Remember, God is faithful (1 Corinthians 10:13). He will help us overcome if we turn to Him and trust in Him.