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28. How to overcome temptation

The Master's Instructions about specific Christian problems. Matthew 4:1-11,

It is not a sin to be tempted to do wrong. Jesus was tempted and yet He did not sin (Hebrews 4:15). The record of Jesus’ initial temptations is given to us in Matthew 4:1-11. It is instructive for us.

A Christian can be living a Spirit-led life and still be tempted (vv.1-2)

The devil even used the means of worship and consecration as a temptation for Jesus. After a long, spiritual fast, the temptation was basic hunger. The devil said to Jesus: ‘Work a miracle to provide for a perfectly legitimate need.’ Beware of the ‘Christian’ temptations to engineer what you want to happen, rather than allowing God to do what He wants.

Jesus’ answer was to use the Bible against the tempter (vv.4, 7, 10)

When we are tempted not to bother to learn the Bible, not to study it and

apply it to our lives, the devil is going for the kill. He knows that God’s

word is the Holy Spirit’s sword and he is afraid to let us have it.

Some temptation can wrongly interpret Scripture or can seek to achieve

the right end by the wrong means (vv.6, 9)

It is essential that we discern and do God’s will. Beware of building too

much on just one or two verses from the Bible. Look at the context as

well as the texts.

The devil will not always be tempting us (v.11)

Perhaps he is most dangerous when we do not know where he is. A soldier

on guard duty learns to treat unusual silence with suspicion. It is also

true that the pilot of an aircraft on a bombing raid soon learns that he

gets more flack the closer he is to his target.

James tells us the stages temptation follows in our lives. First there is

desire, then conception, then birth, then maturity and finally death

(James 1:13-16).

The earlier the temptation is tackled the better it will be for us. Jesus pointed

us in the same direction when He said that God was interested in our

thoughts before our actions (Matthew 5:21-22, 27-28, 37).

In the Lord’s prayer Jesus gives a big clue as to how to handle

temptation. Matthew 6:13 teaches us to be aware that temptation will

happen, to avoid going where you know it will be, and to anticipate that

God holds the key to deliverance.

Paul prescribes God’s solution in 1 Corinthians 10:13.

  • Count on the fact that you are not unique.

  • Count on the fact that God is faithful.

  • Count on the fact that His strength will make you stand.

  • Count on His providing a way out, and make sure you take it when you see it!

The Bible has many accounts of men’s temptations and how they overcame

them. Read them and learn from them:

  • Joseph and Potiphar’s wife (Genesis 39:6-12)

  • David could have killed Saul (1 Samuel 24:1-7)

  • Naaman did not want to obey (2 Kings 5:10-14)

  • Josiah chose not to conform (2 Kings 22:2)

  • Barnabas and Paul were tempted to be proud (Acts 14:8-15)

  • Paul must have been temped to quit (2 Corinthians 11:23-29)

Jesus said: ‘Pray that you will not fall into temptation’ (Luke 22:40).

Discussion guide for ‘How to overcome temptation’

1. Why do you think Jesus used the phrase, “and lead us not into

temptation, but deliver us from the evil one” in the Lord’s Prayer?

See Matthew 6:13.

2. As sensitively as you can, share one temptation that you battle with

often. Also share one way you try to overcome it.

3. From James 1:13-15 list the steps on the slide into disobedience.

4. How can each step be overcome by the Christian? Or, at the very

least, what precautions should a Christian take to avoid giving in to


5. Consider how Galatians 5:16-25 helps a Christian recognise the bad

and the good. Describe what you think it means to “keep in step

with the Spirit”, verse 25.

6. The biblical examples at the end of the chapter (above) all show us our

enemy, the devil, at work trying to trip up God’s people. What does

1 Peter 5:8-11 teach us about his aims – and our Christian response?

7. How can we resist the devil? Consider the example of Jesus.

Explain what you understand by Ephesians 6:11 “take your stand”

and verse 16 “take up the shield of faith”. Be as practical as you

can in your answer.

8. Memorise 1 Corinthians 10:13. As you sow it into your heart God will

bring it to mind when you need to remember it. Test each other to

see if you really know it – or, better still, learn it together.


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