One of the greatest challenges we are faced with as Christians is the issue of why we encounter temptations and how we ought to deal with them.

When we chose to give our lives to Christ, we probably thought that our lives and the different situations we go through would become easier to handle, but as time went by, we came to the realisation that it was actually the opposite of this.

Trials and temptations come after us from every angle, and the more we grow in our Christian walk, the stronger they become and eventually they become almost unbearable. We may get frustrated because we feel as if we were forgiven of all our iniquities only to be faced with overwhelming temptations to go back to your old ways.

How can we avoid this?

James 1:12-18

12Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. 13When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; 14but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. 15Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. 16Don’t be deceived my dear brothers. 17Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. 18He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits if all he created.

This is an excellent selection from the Bible to guide Christians through periods of temptation and sin. This little excerpt actually encompasses a lot: a promise, a caution, and an explanation.

The Promise:
In vs. 12, God promises the crown of life to those who persevere under trial. This promise is for those who demonstrate their love for Christ through their endurance of temptation. And we have a God that does not lie as it states in Titus 1:2. So this gives us encouragement because we all know that at his appointed season he’ll always bring his word to light.

The Caution:
We have a God that is the absolute quintessence of perfection. He is the embodiment of everything that is good and holy, so he cannot be tempted by evil. If God cannot be tempted by evil, he is not going to tempt us with evil. So brethren before you wrongfully impugn the source of temptations, think about how God desperately yearns for our love; how he even sent his only begotten son to die so that we could have salvation that we did not deserve. So, as it says in vs. 13, when tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone.

The Elucidation:
How does sin develop?
SIN = Temptation + Action
Temptation in itself is not a sin- (Hebrews 4:15), it is however a factor in the equation that produces sin. This is the first stage in the development of sin. It is a combination of a strong desire for something and an opportunity to satisfy that desire.

Temptation becomes a sin only when it is acted upon. Even if it is wrong to have the desire to sin, we will only be punished for the act. If the sinful deed happens to take place, we are doomed to face the consequences, but the eternal punishment can still be overcome with forgiveness. If we are forgiven and our sins are blotted out of the book of life, we may still have to face the consequences of our actions(remember the story of David?). The only way to receive forgiveness is to earnestly beg God and to come before him with a repenting heart. Without it, the wages of sin is eternal punishment -death, spiritual death! (Roman 6:23).

How do we overcome sin?
The best way to solve a problem is to go back to the roots and begin from there. As stated earlier, since the root of sin is desire, we can start from there. Changing our sinful desires is all part of our Christian growth- Romans 12:1-2

How can we change our desires???
Staying embedded in the word is an excellent approach that can be utilized to change our desires. Psalm 119:11-“I have hidden your word in my heart that that I might not sin against you.” When you read the Bible, you read about the love that God generously and benignly bestows upon us. Jesus came down to earth from paradise; he was beaten, mentally abused, insulted, and eventually killed just so that we might be saved from eternal death; our predestined punishment. God made him who had no sin to become sin for us so that in him we might become the righteousness of God –2 Co 5:21. How can anyone not want to wholeheartedly serve a person that is so selfless and merciful?

Furthermore, the Bible not only illustrates the love that God has for us, it also depicts the damnable consequences of our sins. Psalm 119:104- “I gain understanding from your percepts; therefore I hate every wrong path”. Eventually, the more we read the Bible, the more our desires to sin diminish and we slowly begin to hate sin.

Whilst we change our desires, we can begin to limit our opportunities to gratify wrongful desires. We can accomplish this by steering clear of situations that might rouse wrongful desires. David in Psalm 101:3-4 vowed not to set any vile thing before his eyes. We can do the same thing! However when the temptation becomes too overwhelming, ask for God’s propitious help. He knows what we go through. Matthew 26:41- “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.”

In the scheme of things, we are still human, and we can’t possibly change everything, so we need to exercise self-control. This is part of the fruit of the Spirit that has been given to us. “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Most of all, we need to trust that we are not alone as we try to do his will. We should surround ourselves with Godly people that will challenge us spiritually and at the same support us in the time of need.

Finally, sin is victorious only when it results in eternal punishment, so if we can obtain forgiveness through the blood, we can avoid that punishment and still over come sin!!!

“My dear children, I write to this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the father in our defense-Jesus Christ the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.” ~1 John 2: 1-2

Stay blessed and spread the word.