Dear Ginger: How do I fight temptation?

Dear Ginger,
A lot of stuff has been happening in my life… I’ve done and had the temptation to do certain things. Can you help? – C

Dear C,
Although I don’t know the details of your situation, I do know what it’s like to feel tempted and trapped by something. Yesterday I talked about my own struggle with body image and even an eating disorder. It’s definitely not something that I’m proud of, but I share it in order to point victory back to God. I feel like every time I speak and share my story people ask how I was able to stop something that was such a big temptation for me. Let’s be honest, I enjoyed being tempted by food. I despised being tempted to make myself sick. But both areas of temptation led me to sin, and led me to feel trapped by that sin. I felt like a hamster on one of those wheels. I kept running and running, but I wasn’t getting anywhere.

Until one day I realized that my sin was stealing life from me. I’ve always wanted to live a good story and do something meaningful and exciting with my time on this earth. I also want to honor God with my life. By giving into my area of weakness (food AND a desire to look a certain way) I let sin and it’s consequences write my story. Rather than honoring God, I was dishonoring Him by hurting the body He had “fearfully and wonderfully made.” (Psalm 139)

The second half of John 10:10 gets quoted by many people… I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” I love that verse. I love the reminder that Jesus not only brings life to my body- but He also brings me a real, meaningful, and passionate life-story here and in the future that’s to come. Love that.

But check out all of John 10:10… “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”

I believe that the Devil is real, not some made up monster from myth and legend. And I also believe that God’s Word is 100% true. So John 10:10 tells me that we have an enemy that wants to steal the very life that Jesus came to bring us. Since he cannot separate us from the love of God (Romans 8:38-39), he will use ANYTHING to keep us from building and growing a relationship with our Heavenly Father: busyness, anger, addiction, temptation, sin, pride, shame… you name it. He has an arsenal of ways to tempt us and he fights dirty and personally.

But before we get depressed, let’s remember that Jesus was also tempted. He spent 40 days in the wilderness fasting and praying only to have the Devil show up when he would have been physically at His weakest. But Jesus didn’t give into the temptation. Three times He fights back with the same weapon: The Word of God. I’m serious! Jesus quotes the Bible like He’s using a sword to block of an offensive attack.

That’s why my response to any question about temptation is going to rely heavily on the example of Jesus. In my own story of temptation I was only willing to admit I needed help after I was trapped. For so long I thought I could just wish all my problems away. I had to recognize that I wasn’t going to be able to break down the walls I had built on my own. I wanted to change for good and I knew that would require the grace and power of God alone. I finally called out to God and took hold of the weapons He has given all of us.

Here’s what I mean.

1. Use your weapons.
We fight with weapons that are different from those the world uses. Our weapons have power from God that can destroy the enemy’s strong places. We destroy people’s arguments and every proud thing that raises itself against the knowledge of God. We capture every thought and make it give up and obey Christ.”  2 Corinthians 10:4-5 (NCV)

My own efforts can’t take down a stronghold.  God is the one with the dynamite that you and I need.  Satan’s power comes in his ability to lie – take that away and he loses his power!  The more we know God’s word, the quicker we can recognize Satan’s lies!

Check out the last part of the verse: “…we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” That’s not a one time event. Notice that the verse says “every thought.” This isn’t going to be easy. Look this isn’t just about staying away from lies. This is all about relying on God to give us the strength and courage to walk through every moment of every day. We use the Word of God to arm ourselves for the journey ahead.

2. Prepare yourself.
Satan doesn’t waste arrows on where we are protected. If Satan knows that I’ve been claiming God’s promises about comparison or how He made me, He’s not going to waste his time there. That’s why it’s so important that I know God’s word like a great Samurai knows how to use his sword! You don’t learn how to fight in the middle of a battle. You prepare ahead of time.

3. Don’t go it alone. Telling friends, a youth worker, a counselor, a teacher, even a parent – is going to make all the difference. The Devil wants us to keep our struggles in the dark. The moment I finally shared about my stronghold with someone  was the start of my road to freedom. I had an accountability partner that walked through my recovery every step of the way. She prayed over me and handed me notecards with verses on them every time I saw her. She reminded me that I was not in the battle alone, but had another soldier on my side… as well as the God of the Universe fighting for me!

4. Fight like you mean it.
I don’t know if you’ve ever played basketball before, but one of the things coaches drill into your head is to get the rebound. You fight for that ball and don’t give up until it’s yours. God has already given us the ultimate victory through Jesus. So pray for Heavenly backup and do everything on your part to fight off temptation like the warrior you are.

Our center of gravity should be God’s Word!  My recommendation would be that you start filling up on GOOD stuff. Replace those feelings to “do those things” with truth from the Bible  It’s not going to be an instant fix.  You will still have days when you feel like the battle is too much for you – but remember the battle is not too much for the One who made you!

Freedom is a gift – it is for freedom that Christ has set us free! (Galatians 5:1)

Praying for your struggles and your journey, C.

Claiming Victory,