There is a life-long battle that is being waged over our lives. On one side is the influence of that old sinful nature – those old lingering tendencies, temptations and sins that have been difficult for us to overcome. Over time as we mature in our walk with God, the influence of the sinful nature weakens. On the other side is the growing influence of the Holy Spirit’s presence in our lives. These are two opposing forces as described in Galatians:
“So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want.” Galatians 5:16-17
God’s word encourages us to “live by the Spirit.” In other words, we must allow the influence of the Holy Spirit to win over the influence of the sinful nature in our lives.
Many times, this is easier said than done. Our sinful nature prods us to make decisions to satisfy self-centered ambitions and passions. This is called temptation, and James describes it like this:
“When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed.” James 1:13-14
Not until a decision on our part is made to give in to a temptation does it become sin.
“Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full grown, gives birth to death.” James 1:15
Amazingly however, as a part of God’s profound love and grace extended to all Christians, God forgives us and cleanses us from all of our sins. We are absolutely 100% forgiven.
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgives us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” I John 1:9
But there is still a danger in allowing sin to go unchecked. While God forgives us and cleanses us, He does not necessarily eliminate the destructive path of consequences and circumstances sin leaves behind. While God will always help us through difficult times, even when brought on by our own decisions, our best course of action is to do all we can to avoid making those decisions in the first place.
I Corinthians describes two important aspects in effectively dealing with temptation and sin:
“No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. 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 stand up under it.” I Corinthians 10:13
First is that we’re not alone in our struggle. You can know that there are other Christians, whether 30 days or 30 years into their walk with God, who still struggle with sin and temptation common to yours.
Second, is that God will not allow us to be tempted beyond a point where we’re unable to make a decision to avoid sin. He will always provide a way of escape. Our job, as challenging as it may be, is to find that way out in the midst of our temptation.
The following section provides a Bible-based strategy for effectively dealing with sin and temptation. Putting this plan into action is one more way of giving God first place in your life!