Overcoming Temptation and Avoiding “LSD”
But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.
(James 1:14-15 KJV)
Sin destroys life. The wages, or payment, for sin is death. This journey to death begins with temptation, leads to lust, followed by sin, that results in death. Temptation is the door to death that, when opened, begins a slow journey of lust, sin, and eventually death. This is a process I think of as “L.S.D.” (Lust, Sin, Death). That door of temptation must be kept closed with constant vigilance. This is the greatest key to victory! But how can we practically defeat temptation and sin?
First, we must understand that temptation alone is NOT sin. It is the initial enticing of one’s desires to sin, to gratify those desires in an ungodly way. We have God-given desires, but those desires can be gratified in a godly or ungodly way. Temptation only becomes sin when the will is exercised in nurturing and gratifying desires in an ungodly way.
Secondly, we must accept the responsibility for our response to temptation and our own acts of sin. Every person living in sin usually has a reason. People blame their circumstances, the way they were raised, the devil, or what others have done to them. Even worse, they blame God claiming that He made them that way. They can’t help themselves because “It’s genetic”, they claim. The book of James says that every man is tempted and drawn away by his own lusts. If we refuse to take responsibility for our own lust and sin, then we have decided that our ability to obey God depends on our circumstances or on other people, and we have no ability to avoid sin. God says we are responsible and we have the power to make obedient, by His grace, or sinful choices according to our own lusts. No matter how many excuses we come up with to justify our sin, God holds us responsible!
Next, we must understand that, when it comes to continuous and unrepentant sin, our eternity is at stake! Jesus clearly warns of the danger of sin and God’s attitude toward it. Continued sin leads to death and eternal damnation. Jesus said in Matthew 18:8-9 that if there are things in your life that cause you to sin then you must take drastic action to get rid of them. He said if your hand or your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. If your eye does the same, pluck it out! For it is better for you to enter life maimed or partially blind than to be thrown into the fires of hell. It is that serious to God!
These hands, feet and eyes are those things, or people, that tempt us. It could be things like our computer, our TV, friends we associate with, or places we go. If you really want to overcome temptation, have you taken drastic action to get rid of those things that keep tempting you to sin? Jesus expects you to. It is certainly better to enter life without those things or people, than to be cast into hell with them!
Most importantly, we must be pure in heart, loving God will all our desires, with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. We must focus on who we are in Christ, reminding ourselves constantly that we are righteous in Him. We are new creatures in Christ. By the power of His Spirit we can overcome! By His grace we can live for Him! Through His love we are able to put off the old dead works of sin and put on the new works of righteousness! We can overcome temptation and avoid the slippery slope of lust, sin, and death: LSD!