Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
When we talk about temptation, what is the first image that pops into your mind?
For guys; common logic, along with research, says that a woman’s image comes to mind. It’s usually not even a woman we know, but simply the anonymous illusion of a seductive female just waiting to make your every fantasy come true.
How realistic is that fantasy?
- It depends on the person’s visceral response
- Availability to the source of temptation
- And understanding of consequences.
To be fair, this doesn’t only relate to men. Expand the thought beyond adultery to examples of temptation, such as smoking and overeating.
Example 1: I’m hungry. I’m driving past a fast food restaurant. I don’t realize or care how fat that Baconator is going to make me.
Example 2: My spouse has been “cold.” The person at my office is a trusted friend. I’m not thinking about getting caught, the damage to my spouse or our children, and what a divorce will do to everyone we’re associated with.
I’m not picking on us guys, but I do want to encourage us to stand fast. Being tempted doesn’t mean we’re weak. Christ was tempted, so He fully understands the nature of being made promises of wonderfulness, yet they hold nothing but destruction.
For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.
If, instead of that flirty text message, her words began with a flashing warning, “This Leads To Destruction.” Would we think twice before pursuing? How about the random pop-ups online that women in your area are dying to meet you?
Now, how about the not so obvious brand of temptations, such as an old girlfriend sending a friend request, or your friend’s ex-wife wanting to confide in only you about how her husband mistreated her during their marriage. Oh, and by the way, he said some pretty nasty things about you too.
It’s the subtle, non-branded sources of temptation that snatch at our ankles like knotted roots while running through a dark forest. Easy, then I won’t run through a dark forest. It’s not that simple. How about business trips, weekends with the fellas, outings with the young kids where young moms gather, such as the playground, museum, and aquarium to name a few.
It’s not about avoiding locations as much as it is awareness that temptation lurks everywhere. Knowing is half the battle. Avoiding is the other half. Men, for some reason, feel we have the strength to tightrope across the divide between faithful and adulterous.
The idea that just a peek can be innocent, or that it’s just one kiss, or we only had sex and now it’s over, is playing with an eternal flame. The warmth of getting close starts as a comfortable feeling, but ultimately, the encounter will burn you.
I’ve even had friends who claimed it was different, and that I’d never understand. It just wasn’t the same as being with their spouse, it was special, or they simply couldn’t resist it. I wish I’d shared this verse with them at the time, but at that moment my heart was breaking for their spouse and kids who were about to be thrown into an adulterous churn.
No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.
1 Corinthians 10:13
Guys, temptation seeks out every one of us. I’ve stood at the cliff’s edge. I’ve even weighed the consequences, and thought maybe it’s worth the risk, the adventure, the rush of feeling alive against all conventional wisdom. In my life, I’ve even thought I was trapped and that continuing the illegitimate behavior was the only way to avoid getting hurt.
Guess what? Look back at 1 Corinthians 10:13 – “…He will also provide the way of escape…”
I’m going to throw this at you because I want us guys to start a revolution. To take a pledge to be better. This isn’t a sign of weakness, but a call to be warriors, and Godly heads of our households.
“Feeling bad about something will not stop you from doing it the first time, nor will it prevent you from repeating the action until it becomes a pattern.”
I’ll confess. I love ice cream, but I need to lose weight. I’ll eat a pint in no time flat, and then waddle to the kitchen to toss the carton in the garbage. I whine to Leah that I’ve got to lose weight and stop eating so much. Yeah, I feel guilty – I even feel like a horrible slob. But guess what? I’ve yet to stop eating ice cream or lose weight.
It’s not about feelings, but about action. I’ve got to take realistic actions to change my behavior. Easiest thing to do is stop buying ice cream, replacing it with a healthy alternative and get back to an exercise routine that I enjoy.
Admittedly, ice cream and adultery are different on the scale of temptation, but the same principles apply. Are there bigger, better promises out there? Sure, but they are false idols and snares. It’s your heavenly duty to uphold the oath you took to your wife, and the awesome opportunity you’ve been ordained with to raise your children in a Godly home. Resisting temptation is vital to accomplish both. Here’s how:
Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.
Let’s get practical, even if you think the grass is greener on the other side of the fence, happy gardeners will be less likely to notice. If you’re not happy with your spouse, it’s time to hit the floor on your knees and pray that God changes you. Yes you. Not her. Say this prayer. It’s a simple prayer with powerful results:
I pray for the forgiveness of my sins that have separated me from Your will. I pray to be the man You made me to be. I ask that You make the changes in me that will allow my wife to truly love and respect me. I will praise You for the victory of leading our household as a man after Your own heart.
In Christ’s name I pray – Amen
How many times have we stumbled and beat ourselves up for it, only to deepen our despair over the act? Guys, we are going to stumble, tumble and sometimes crash because of temptation.
The subtle nature of the beast makes recognizing it difficult at times, but if you click that link to a porn site, or accept the friend request without forethought, allow the Holy Spirit who dwells within to guide you away from the action.
Ask God for forgiveness and take a positive spin that encourages future positive behavior by thanking God for leading you away from the flame.
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
I’m going to wrap up with my favorite bible verse for men. God knew we’d need the encouragement and the guidance in all that we do. Yes, we are warriors, kings and priests, but we are also human, flawed and without supernatural abilities to withstand temptations. Look at the greatest mortal heroes throughout the bible. Each have succumbed to temptation in one form or another.
Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.
1 Corinthians 16:13-14
Besides being the man’s man, God wants us to do all in love. Resisting, avoiding or running away from temptation is an act of love. Do this once, and you’ll know the joy of victory. Do it twice and you’ll begin to set a pattern in your life for avoiding the pitfalls, and reaping the blessings.
I’m pulling for all of us guys to stand in the gap for God, our nation, our communities, our wives, our children, and ourselves. We can do this – We can do better.
I hope The Subtle Temptation of Man has blessed you. What are some other temptations men struggle with and how can they best avoid them? I’d love to hear from you.