learning to say no
"In this world you will have trouble," Jesus said in John 16:33
He wasn't kidding.
Much of that trouble we bring on ourselves. We get our opinions tossed in the blender with those of people around us. Mixed up, they get confused and tossed back at us in a way we never intended. We allow ourselves to give into temptation and find our lives unraveling as we justify our actions.
Want to know a secret?
We need to learn to say no to temptation.
"No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it."
-1 Corinthians 10:13
The Bible is very clear that we will be tempted and that we can overcome it because God will always provide us with an escape from temptation.
Temptation leads to sin and sin separates us from God. God does not want us to be separated from Him so He offers help.
Sometimes that help is obvious.
You have a shopping addiction and spending gives you a rush. Your bills are more than your income. You cannot afford to keep buying, but you find it hard to stop.
Cut up your credit cards.
You can't control your eating. Everything appeals to you and you overdo it. Again and again. Half a bag of chips. Half a carton of ice cream. Two bowls of cereal. Supersized meals. Six pieces of pizza.
Walk away from the food. Put down the fork. Chew a piece of gum. Brush your teeth. Drink water instead.
But sometimes the escape isn't as easy as turning away from what's offered. Sometimes it's a battle fought only on your knees. Sometimes giving in to the temptation can ruin your life, your family, your church. Sometimes it can make you lose your job, lose your influence, even lose your life.
I've found that when I am weakest is when I have the most potential for growth.
Remember this: the devil will tempt us in areas where we are weak. He isn't going to tempt me with shoplifting because it's not on my radar. He isn't going to tempt me with overspending because, meh. He will tempt me with food because I battle with it daily.
He knows my other areas of weakness and will use them against me as often as he can. He wants me to fail. He doesn't want to see me overcome temptation.
We can only overcome temptation with help from the Lord.
Every time we give in we lose. He will then take that loss and remind us of it time and again, throwing it at us to keep us silent. To keep us stagnant.
When we tell ourselves that just one more interaction with a pornographic movie won't hurt anything we are losing. When we juggle the office finances to give ourselves a bonus we are losing. When we give into the substance to numb our emotions we are losing.
It's when we rise up and recognize his game that we begin to win. When we see that the attraction we feel towards someone who isn't our spouse is part of his game and we turn away from it we win. When we turn our focus to the strength of our lives and allow Him to battle with us, it's then we are able to overcome.
Is it easy? No. It's a battle. It's breaking free of things that are keeping us in bondage. Breaking free so we can help others do the same.
But he said to me, Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me." - 2 Corinthians 12:9
It's time to rise up and begin to say no to the temptation that is offered us. It's time we accept His grace and power to save us. If you want to be closer to Him you need to start walking away from the behavior that is keeping you just out of reach.
He provides the help we need. All we have to do is ask for it. The end result is worth it.
"But take heart, I have overcome the world," is the end of the verse we started with. He did it, you can too.