There is a song by Genesis, a group I loved in my youth and still do like listening to even now, called The Lady Lies. It is about a brave soul who rescues a damsel in distress only to find out too late she is a demon in disguise. She says; "Come with me I need you I fear the dark and I live all alone. I’ll give you wine and food too and something special after if you like" And though his body bids him to enter in with her there was something in her manner that his mind could not ignore. She further entices him; “Come to my garden and taste the fruits and the spices of love. You can’t resist me I’m the kind that your dreams tell you of.” The song tells of his reaction to her advances. Some men never listen and other never learn. But why this man did as he did only he will ever know. He knew he was walking into a waiting trap neatly set up for him with a bait so richly wrapped. So he went inside there to take on what he found. But he never escaped them, for who can escape what he desires. This man craved the thing that killed him. He gave in to his temptations and that was his undoing.
Proverbs 7 tells a very similar tale. One in which a young man is enticed by an adulteress to come back to her house, but in the end it only leads to his death. I want you to read through it and look at instead of it being a woman, think about it being something you are tempted by.
1 Follow my advice, my son;
always treasure my commands.
2 Obey my commands and live!
Guard my instructions as you guard your own eyes
3 Tie them on your fingers as a reminder.
Write them deep within your heart.
4 Love wisdom like a sister;
make insight a beloved member of your family.
5 Let them protect you from an affair with an immoral woman,
from listening to the flattery of a promiscuous woman.
6 While I was at the window of my house,
looking through the curtain,
7 I saw some naive young men,
and one in particular who lacked common sense.
8 He was crossing the street near the house of an immoral woman,
strolling down the path by her house.
9 It was at twilight, in the evening,
as deep darkness fell.
10 The woman approached him,
seductively dressed and sly of heart.
11 She was the brash, rebellious type,
never content to stay at home.
12 She is often in the streets and markets,
soliciting at every corner.
13 She threw her arms around him and kissed him,
and with a brazen look she said,
14 “I’ve just made my peace offerings
and fulfilled my vows.
15 You’re the one I was looking for!
I came out to find you, and here you are!
16 My bed is spread with beautiful blankets,
with coloured sheets of Egyptian linen.
17 I’ve perfumed my bed
with myrrh, aloes, and cinnamon.
18 Come, let’s drink our fill of love until morning.
Let’s enjoy each other’s caresses,
19 for my husband is not home.
He’s away on a long trip.
20 He has taken a wallet full of money with him
and won’t return until later this month.”
21 So she seduced him with her pretty speech
and enticed him with her flattery.
22 He followed her at once,
like an ox going to the slaughter.
He was like a stag caught in a trap,
23 awaiting the arrow that would pierce its heart.
He was like a bird flying into a snare,
little knowing it would cost him his life.
24 So listen to me, my sons,
and pay attention to my words.
25 Don’t let your hearts stray away toward her.
Don’t wander down her wayward path.
26 For she has been the ruin of many;
many men have been her victims.
27 Her house is the road to the grave.
Her bedroom is the den of death. (NLT)
Temptation in it’s self is not a sin, but giving into temptation is. The enemy loves to whisper in our ears concerning the things that he knows tempts us the most and he is very good at it. He’s had lots of time to work on perfecting his techniques. For those who battle pornography he uses product placement. Sex permeates our society and it seems to get worse all the time. Wherever you look you can’t seem to ignore it. Men especially fall easily for it because we tend to be affected more by images and sounds but in the end it can lead to the death of natural affection towards those he loves. It can destroy his family and the way he looks at women.
For those that have been hooked on drugs, temptation shouts the loudest when they have money in their hands and if they give in it becomes a slippery slope and they withdraw and look for new ways to support their sin. Even lying to and stealing from those that love them. I can go on and on about the many things that tempt people such as alcohol, stealing, lying, etc…..
If you listen to temptation long enough your brain releases a chemical called dopamine which increases the amount of pleasure you feel at giving in to that temptation and in many ways makes it harder to resist. The longer you contemplate sinning the less you think about the consequences. Right and wrong become fuzzy. Then once you give into sin the dopamine disappears and you head for a down.
Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death. James 1:13-15 (NKJV)
The comedian Flip Wilson used to say” The devil made me do it!” The devil can’t make you do anything you don’t want to do. Him and his demons are just good at pointing you in the right direction. If we fall and give in to temptation we alone are to blame. Not God, not the devil, nor anyone else is at fault. Only us.
Sin separates us from God and only real heartfelt repentance can restore that fellowship with Him.
For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23 (NKJV)
How do we beat temptation?
1) Our primary example in overcoming temptation is Jesus.
Therefore, it was necessary for him to be made in every respect like us, his brothers and sisters, so that he could be our merciful and faithful High Priest before God. Then he could offer a sacrifice that would take away the sins of the people. Since he himself has gone through suffering and testing, he is able to help us when we are being tested. Hebrews 2:17-18 (NLT)
2) Read the word of God daily. Nothing has transforming power like the bible does under the influence of the Holy Spirit. It needs to be our daily meat. It renews our minds.
And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. Romans 2:2 (NKJV)
3) Guard you thoughts. Be careful what you allow in through your home through media (T.V., internet, magazines, radio, etc…)
Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. Philippians 4:8 (NKJV)
4) Pray! Daily fellowship with God through pray is a very strong anchor. Pray for each other. Praying for God to help someone else overcome temptation will also strengthen you. Worship God as you pray. It is wonderful the things that God can accomplish in the heart of a worshiper.
Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results. James 5:16 (NLT)
5) Fellowship with other Christians and making yourself accountable to them. This would be included in the previous verse from James. Whenever you feel under attack you need to be able to call someone and pray with them. Confess your weakness to them and let them help and encourage you through prayer and the word.
There is a children’s song that was sung and still in Sunday school; O Be Careful Little Eyes and there is a lot of truth to that song.
O be careful little eyes what you see
O be careful little eyes what you see
There’s a Father up above
And He’s looking down in love
So, be careful little eyes what you see
Father, I pray for all my brothers and sisters who will read this, that You will keep them from temptation. Sometimes the enemy comes disguised in ways that are difficult to discern. So I ask that you would help us to see past the pretty packages that he sometimes brings our way. That you would help us to love and support one another and love back in those who fall. Help us to steadfastly hold on to Your word and know that Jesus is ever interceding for us before Your throne. There is coming a day Father when we will no longer be faced with temptation and we look forward to it, but until that day keep us close to you. In Jesus name I pray, Amen!