“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.”
“And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”
James 1: 13-15,
“Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.”
I am very qualified to write about sin and the pain it causes because I sin so much. If you are like me, I struggle to live for the Christ that I love. Yes, He is Lord, but so much of the time I end up living for myself. I know what Paul meant when he said in Romans 7, that the things he wished he’d do, he doesn’t and the things he doesn’t want to do, he does. Yesterday in my prayer time I realized what I believe to be an important key to experiencing the victory that Christ has given us through His death and resurrection.
This important key to victory was the realization that I’m not called to fight against my sin. If I fight against my own sin, I will lose every battle and live a defeated life. I realized that my battle isn’t against my sin, but against temptation. The real battle takes place at the point of temptation. In Hebrews 4, Jesus sympathizes with our weakness not because he experienced sin, but because He experienced temptation. In Matthew 6:13, the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus tells the disciples to pray asking that God wouldn’t lead them into temptation. Again in James 1, the focus is on temptation.
The truth is your life is bases on how you respond to temptation. Rick Warren writes in The Purpose Driven Life that he views every temptation as an opportunity for obedience. This is great, but no matter how you look at it, you must focus on having victory at the level of temptation. If you lose the temptation battle you will sin and if you win the temptation battle you will walk in obedience. For example if you are going to overcome an addiction, you must realize the problem is in how you are responding to your temptations. Change that response and you will be free.
Here is my point, stop focusing on sin and start focusing on temptation as the real battleground. Imagine with me a man struggling with porn. If he believes the battleground is sin, he will continue run through his mind what he wished he could do if he wasn’t trying to live against sin. He will look at every woman as an object and live his fantasy with her in his mind. Then when the opportunity comes where he feels that he can get away with acting on his fantasy he does and feels guilty for his weakness. He fought the wrong battle. The battle is with the temptation. He would gain victory if when the temptation concerning women came to mind, he called on the name of Christ or said, “No, I’m not going to think that way anymore.” Listen, my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, focus on overcoming and avoiding temptation and you will experience freedom. When temptation comes, already have the plan that you will use it for an opportunity to obey Christ.