temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it (ICor10:12.13).
Believers backslide when they start thinking that they stand, forgetting that they stand only in Christ, by His power and His grace for His glory. There has been a great falling away in the body of Christ because people have not done the things they need to do to stay strong in the Lord and the power of His might. Usually this is the result of a deficiency in their love for the Lord or a lack of self-discipline in rejecting temptation when it knocks at the door of their mind. Many today are seeking a compromising church with compromised preaching because they want a compromised walk. Deep down they want to give in to their besetting sin, because sin does have pleasure for a season. They want to have their sin, and Heaven too. But they find out sooner or later you can't serve God and Mammon. You can't have two masters.
Rest assured, temptation will knock at your door. The question is, will you be ready to resist when it does? Most people think they are strong and will stand. Most believers are like the Apostle Peter andthe other disciples, " But Peter said unto him, Although all shall be offended, yet will not I. 30 And Jesus saith unto him, Verily I say unto thee, that thou to-day, even this night, before the cock crows twice, shalt deny me thrice. 31 But he spake exceedingly vehemently, If I must die with thee, I will not deny thee. And in like manner also said they all. Mankind, in his egotism has a tendency to think more highly of himself than he should. He tends to think he is stronger than he is. However if we aren't doing what we should to stay strong in the Lord and receive His grace we won't be able to stand when the temptation comes. Today I'll give you some things you can do to receive more grace which will assure that you'll be able to resist temptation when it comes.
I. Submit to God.
James 4:7 says, "Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you."
I once had a young man in my office who had been struggling with drug addiction. It was his second visit. In a previous visit he had sworn off the drugs and had begun to attend church, read his Bible and pray. I asked him, "How long has it been since you used drugs." He hung his head and said, "I just blew it and I did some yesterday." I said, "did you do what James 4:7 says, as I advised you in our last session?" He said,"Yeah, I did it but it didn't seem to work." I asked him, "what exactly did you do?" He said, "I said, Satan get out of here in Jesus Name, just like you told me but that guy at work kept on heckling me and trying to get me to buy some crack and I eventually gave in and bought some." I said, "Did you have a prayer time yesterday morning?" to which he said, "No, not really, I had to get up early to be at work." I then reminded him that he had not done what James 4:7 says. He had not first submitted to God before trying to resist the devil. I said, "when you were tempted you couldn't resist because you did not submit to God first. The very first thing you must do to resist temptation is to submit to God. You must humble your self before the Lord and cry out to him for strength admitting you can't resist the devil without His help. Then you pray until you sense His grace and power helping you, to rise up and command the enemy to leave you in Jesus name."
The Apostle Paul understood submission to God. He referred to himself as a Doulos or "love slave" of Jesus. doulos was a person who was totally sold into slavery. He had no destiny of his own. He was not working his own plan or trying to fulfill his own agenda. He lived totally to fulfill the desires of his master.
The word Doulos is used in Romans 6:17, 18. But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered. 18 And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.
True submission to God means we have changed masters. We are no longer servants of sin and the devil. We are servants of the Lord and righteousness.
Paul knew that he must be submitted to God in order to resist the devil. No one can resist sin in their areas of dominant weakness unless they stay submitted to God. This means we must daily surrender to the Lord. We must become "slaves of righteousness" Slaves don't get up one day, and say, "I'm tired, I think I'll take a break." Or "I don't need to go to work anymore." Or "I think I'll go have some 'fun' and hang out with my old party friends." No, a doulos, love slave of Jesus, reports for duty, by getting in the prayer closet every day and dying to self and the flesh. The Apostle Paul tells us how: "But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified (I Cor.9:27 NKJV)."
Don't despair, it’s a joy to serve righteousness. God will anoint you with the oil of gladness when you serve Him and His righteous ways. Hebrews 1:9 You have loved righteousness and hated lawlessness; Therefore God, Your God, has anointed You With the oil of gladness more than Your companions." When we love God we'll love righteousness and when we love righteousness enough we will become God's love slave and serve Him. We will be like David, who delighted to do God's will.
1. Submitting to God means staying prayed up.
What does it mean to stay "prayed up?" It means to get on your face the first thing every day, and pray until you enter the peace of God. Once you are in the holy place with God you abide there and draw from his strength filling up on the Holy Spirit. It means that you continue to pray throughout the day and that you abide in the Lord in a continual state of awareness of Him. You pray often throughout the day. The Apostle Paul said, "I die daily" pray until you die. That is, pray until your carnal nature dies, to it's desires and its will and your spirit man can rise up and obey the Lord.
2. Submitting to God means watching and praying.
Jesus said, "Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak
The Greek word for watch is gregoreo and means to "watch for your life"or to "be alive." In other words it means to watch as though your life depends on it and literally it does. If you fail to be on guard against the enemy's wiles you could end up dead. Be on the lookout that you don’t fall back into old addictions. Be on the lookout that you don't fall for a "get rich quick scheme and lose all of your money." If some of the televangelists of the 80's had been watching like their life depended on it, they would not have fallen.
A man in our church years ago, who had been delivered from severe heroine addiction and walked with the Lord for about 7 years, decided to remove himself and his wife from our covering. For sake of anonymity I'll just call him Ron. I advised Ron not to go. I knew he wasn't ready to leave. I wasn't trying to control him, I just knew that he needed a pastor that knew his history and knew his personality and that if he moved he would not have that right away and the enemy would take advantage of that vulnerable time and that he would probably fall. He refused to listen. After he got out from under our accountability, as his pastors, he gradually began to slip in his walk. I first heard reports that he was drinking, then he was back into drugs and his old lifestyle, and eventually ended up dead at an early age. Ron stopped watching and praying and he reverted back to how he was before he accepted Christ. It didn't happen overnight, but it sadly happened. Part of watching is being acutely aware of pastoral counsel and discerning the right way to go versus the wrong way to go. When we're watching we're on guard for anything that would take us down, lead us astray or weaken us in our walk with the Lord.
3. Submitting to God means obeying His Word.
Jesus said, "If you love Me, keep My commandments (Jn. 14:15)." "If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. 24 He who does not love Me does not keep My words…" (Jn. 14:23,24a).
I'm amazed at how many people today say, they love Jesus, but refuse to obey His Word. They don't really love Him. We are not really submitted to the Lord unless we obey His Word. He cannot be separated from His Word. His word is His will which is an extension of who He is. If we love Him, we'll love His Word and obey it. If his word says, go to church, then go to church. If His word says, pray then pray. If His Word says, tithe, the tithe. It's simple. Following Jesus is not rocket science. It just requires a willing, submitted, obedient heart
II. Stop sin at the thought stage.
The very best place to stop sin is at the doorway of the mind. As soon as the enemy tries to get into our thinking we should stop it right there. The Lord told Cain, " If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it (Gal. 4:7)."
1. Cast down imaginations II Cor. 10:3-5
The enemy is a master at injecting thoughts into our minds. We must ask God to put a guard on our minds and immediately arrest those thoughts and cast them down. The best way to cast down wrong thinking is to replace it with right thinking. Right thinking is the Word of God.
The Greek word for casting down is the word kathaireōand it means to demolish or destroy. This means that we are to destroy imaginations and every high minded thought. How do we destroy them? By using the Word of God. The Word of God destroys wrong thinking. Every thought that does not line up with the Word of God is to be destroyed by the truth of God's Word.
We are to reject wrong thinking throwing it down and destroying it just like if someone were to put a piece of garbage like a rotten piece of a potato on our head. If you've ever smelled rotten potatoes, you would never tolerate one on top of your head. if someone did that to us, we would grab it and throw it down into the trash and get it off of our head
immediately. Then we would wash our hair out and make sure we got rid of every bit of the slimy stinking juice connected with that putrefied piece of garbage. We should do the same thing when rotten thoughts are put in our mind by Satan. Don't tolerate them for one minute. Get them down out of your mind and wash you mind with the water of the Word of God. Plead the blood of Jesus over you mind. Make sure you keep your thoughts clean and pure.
Temptation knocks when you least expect it. The enemy who is also called the tempter waits to tempt us when we are weak and vulnerable. Satan came to tempt our Lord Jesus when he was in the wilderness and He was physically
tired because of fasting. After he failed, the Word says, Now when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from Him until an opportune time (Luke 4:13). Old Slew foot is watching, just as God is watching. He is waiting until you're vulnerable and weak. Have you ever noticed that you're most vulnerable to an outburst of anger when you're tired or hungry? I have. Also, I have noticed that people are especially vulnerable to temptation during holidays and vacations. The whole idea of a holiday or a vacation spells, party hardy to most of America . To them that means a time out from the Christian disciplines that keep them strong in the Lord and the power of His might. Many believers have fallen during these times because they slack off on their prayer time, meditation in the Word, and worship for an extended period of time. They let their guard down. This creates an opportune time for the enemy to work his work of temptation. When we take a vacation or a holiday, we must remember that our spirit man needs refreshment too. These are times when we can have an extra long time with the Lord before we start our day of other "fun". It's fun to spend time with the Lord. It's fun to meditate in God's Word. It's fun to attend a church in another city and see how they worship the Lord. We need to learn to rest in the Lord, not from the Lord. We might want to get away from the hustle and bustle of every day living, but we must not get away from the very source of life. We must take Jesus on our vacation with us. And as for holidays, well, those are supposed to be HOLY DAYS. That's where the word came from.
Don't let sin exist in your thinking. Any thinking that contradicts God's Word is sin. These sinful thoughts are high minded opinions (II Cor. 10:4-6). They exalt themselves against the knowledge of God. We're to cast down those imaginations and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God. In the days of the Bible cities were surrounded by walls as high as sixty feet high, and thirty feet thick. The soldiers were able to walk the top of the wall. Look out towers were positioned around the wall. When under siege enemy soldiers would try to scale the walls and come into the city so that they could open the gates and flood the city with their soldiers. The defenders of the city were supposed throw those invading soldiers off the wall. Likewise we are to defend the stronghold of God's Word against all intruders. We need to consider thoughts and words that are contrary to God's Word intruders that are trying to scale the walls of our stronghold. We are to cast them down. We must whack them with the Sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God. Don't even begin let sinful thoughts of doubt and unbelief exist long enough to get into our mind. If we allow them entrance they will eventually overcome us like the Trojan horse. They will sneak into our minds and undermine the truth of the Word that
protects our very lives.
If you've been entertaining wrong thoughts, repent. God will forgive you. Then train your mind to cast down those thoughts by quoting the appropriate scriptures from the Word of God that directly opposes those thoughts. It is imperative that we stop entertaining wrong thinking. The word entertainment has the connotation of inviting someone into your home and giving audience to what they have to present to you. Entertaining wrong thoughts is like hanging out with bad people. Their influence will eventually get you in trouble. Kick bad thoughts out. Erect a stronghold of right thinking with the Word of God. Then use the Sword of the Spirit to oppose and cast down any intruding thoughts that are contrary to the Word.
Ask the Holy Spirit to remind you to think on good things (Phil 4:9).
III. Speak in line with the Word of God.
Jesus always spoke in line with the Word. In fact everything He spoke was the Word, because He is the Word made flesh.
One way the devil tempts us is to get us to speak what we see or feel, or what our flesh wants to give into, rather than speaking the Word. If we want the Word to work for us we have to speak it over our situation and we have to keep speaking it until we see the desired result.
I was talking to a lady that said, "On Sunday I can't seem to get into the mood to go to church. All I want to do is lay in the bed and rest and sleep in. I'm so tired from the week of work I just want to rest." She whined, "I don't know what it is I can't seem to get to church, please pray for me that I'll want to get up and get to church. Pastor, I want to go to church and I know I need to go to church, but I just can't seem to get motivated" I told her, you have to change your speaking before you can ever change your life. I can't do that for you. You have to do it. She said, "But I can't…" and I stopped her. I said, what does the Word say in Philippians 4:13?" Before she could answer I said, "It says, I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. So stop saying I can't and get motivated and start saying I can
get up and go to church. I can rest after church. I love church. I want to be in church. Church is good for me. I learn and grow at Church." I took her to James chapter 3 verse 4. Look also at ships: although they are so large and are driven by fierce winds, they are turned by a very small rudder wherever the pilot desires. I said "your tongue is your rudder. You have to change your rudder to change your direction. If you want to go to church, then start saying, I can get up and go to church. I can go to bed early and awake refreshed and ready to go to church. I can rest after church. I can do this."
A friend of mine named Dave said, "You know when you're on those large cruise ships, they can turn the rudder and change directions of the ship and sometimes you can't even feel it."
So also when you start speaking according to the Word of God, at first you might not feel like anything is changing, but if you keep speaking it, you'll notice your course has been entirely altered and you will eventually arrive at your desired destination.
IV. Fellowship and Refuse to Isolate. Heb. 10:25.
The Word of God commands us to fellowship. Fellowship should bring joy to our hearts. Just as we must fellowship with the Father in order to receive the life flow of His Spirit, we also must fellowship with each other to exchange the anointed gifts of the other believers. We are strengthened by koinonia (Christ centered Holy Spirit type) fellowship. We are weakened by alienation and isolation. Isolation makes us vulnerable prey to the devil. "It's the banana that gets' separated from the bunch that gets peeled first."
Isolation is a trick of the devil to weaken believers so they are more vulnerable to temptation. A good Bible believing church can be a safety net. When we are getting into error, other believers who are walking with the Lord can warn us. When we're feeling down, others can pick us up. When we're depressed, others can encourage us. When we're in need others can pray for our needs and even help meet those needs. There is strength in numbers when we fellowship with other people filled with God's Spirit.
I have noticed that people who have come out of addictive behaviors have a tendency to isolate themselves from other believers. Those who have this propensity to isolate do so because relationships were a source of pain and rejection, sometimes of their own doing. The devil uses this to inspire them to "stay alone and stay safe." Reject this temptation like the plague. It is the first step to getting "peeled" It doesn't happen all at once, but if you isolate long enough the enemy will find a way to infiltrate your thinking. Caribou can fend off a pack of wolves if they stick together, but if they isolate, the wolves will take them down. So it is with an isolated believer.
Refuse to get back together with old "friends" and stay closely connected to the body of Christ and you'll be better equipped to say no to temptation. Little lamb, you're not a wolf. Don't think you can survive hanging out with them. You'll soon be their lunch.
V. Stay prayed up.
Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak (Mt. 26:41). This is what I call staying prayed up. The more we pray the more alert we will be and the stronger we will be to resist any temptation. Watching and praying will keep us from entering into temptation. When we're prayed up, we loose our desire for what would have been tempting. We need the power of God to say no to sin.
The first line of attack is against our prayer life. If the enemy can get us to stop spending quality time communing with the Lord, its just a matter of time until he can get us into other sins. It works like this: No prayer, no power, little prayer little power, great prayer great power.
If you do these things you'll be able to resist temptation when it comes knocking at your door.
Have a very blessed week.
Bishop Darrell Ellis
Anointed Word International Fellowship