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The Problem of Temptation Pt. 2

The Problem of Temptation-Part Two

What Do I Do When I Fail?

D. The fourth way freedom is achieved is through the pull of another person's hand. This is what we allow someone else to do. This is one of the most difficult things for some of us.


1. Satan's strategy is to isolate, by making us think we're the only person in the world who has this particular problem. If he can get us to concentrate on our badness, then we may not seek help or go on to confession and repentance.

But God has another plan in mind.

2. God's idea is to get us functioning as any part of the body will function when it hurts - to cry for help and healing from the other parts.
NOTE: If I cut my finger, the whole body is mobilized to help bring healing. Our help should likewise, come from the body of Christ. James 5:16--"Therefore, confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective."


What does this involve?
a. This is not confessing every minute detail, but a confession of only what's necessary for a person to understand, to care, and to pray. If you have committed private sins, the place to confess them isn't in a public meeting. Also understand, the lasting healing isn't just in the confession, although there's a release (a catharsis), but the healing also depends on the prayer of a righteous (mature) man or woman.


b. Therefore, if you're bound by a sin and repeated confession to God hasn't broken the habit, then go to someone else and let them help you get the burden off your back. Sometimes certain cultures, or even some in an older generation may have a problem with this, but remember, culture or upbringing cannot dictate response, only Scripture can do that.

Who do we make confession to?

c. This is best done with three types of people described below, or to a group of fellow Christians who qualify, e.g., a committed small group.
1) A close, personal friend.
2) A person you respect and admire who may or may not be a professional person.
3) A family member.
4) A small group/support group.


d. The following questions can help you find such a person. You might also ask yourself if you're this type of person too.


1) Does the person love me, or do they have a love in their life that is evident? Paul was such a man. I Cor. 6:11-13--"We have spoken freely to you, Corinthians, and opened wide our hearts to you. We are not withholding our affection from you, but you are withholding yours from us. As a fair exchange, I speak as to my children - open wide your hearts also."


2) Can I trust the person that they will keep our conversation confidential?
·   Prov. 11:13--"A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy man keeps a secret."
·   Prov. 20:19--"A gossip betrays a confidence, so avoid a man who talks too much." (See also Prov. 10:18-19.)


3) Is this person open to sharing their own personal struggles? Will they be able to share with you what they've learned in similar circumstances?
II Cor. 1:8-11--"We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about the hardships we suffered in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. 9] Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. 10] He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, 11] as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many." (See also 11:29-33.)
  It's a good idea to try to find someone who's working at being honest and can share their struggles and solutions, i.e., Paul, especially in II Corinthians, does this. It's not necessary for that person to have shared every detail of their life with you before you open up. What you are looking for is some vulnerability, as well as some victory.


4) Is this person stable and at least working toward a disciplined life? Prov. 10:17--"He who heeds discipline shows the way to life, but whoever ignores correction leads others astray." If they are not heeding discipline in their own life, then their advice will be questionable


5) Is this person confronting? Will they care enough to let you know when they think you are snowing them and will they call you to what's right, regardless of your reaction? Prov. 27:17--"As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another." Prov. 28:23--"He who rebukes a man will in the end gain more favor than he who has a flattering tongue."


6) Is this person righteous and one who prays? James 5:16b--"The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective."


7) Is this person a listener? Prov. 18:13--"He who answers before listening - that is his folly and his shame."

Summary: The above seven questions describe the kind of person(s) who will help you, and the description of a person you need to be to help others. There is a great ministry in helping a person come to freedom through the loving, but steady pull of your hand. Most people won't go to a pastor or to a professional counselor, but they will go to a friend. Avail yourself of any training that will equip you to be of help.



With recognition that freedom is from the Lord, and placing yourself under the Lord's therapy and the pull of a good friend's hand, a person also needs to pray correctly for deliverance and freedom.
E. The fifth way freedom is achieved is for you to specifically pray for a proper relationship with God and man. An example of this kind of prayer is found in Psalm 51.


1. There is no other psalm that has been used more effectively than David's psalm of repentance. He understood how to pray effectively.


2. There are a couple of things to note about David's pattern prayer:


a. Approach God only on the basis of His mercy--vv. 1-2.


b. Agree with God that we indeed have offended Him--vv. 3-6.


c. Ask God not only for pardon, but for purity--vv. 7-12.


d. Accept the responsibility of proper confession. v. 13--"Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will turn back to you." The principle is "out of great healing/confession comes great ministry.


II. CONCLUSION: All of us must understand:


A. There are various levels of moral failure, just as there can be deeper levels of impairment or illness. So it is possible there might be different types of therapy employed by the Lord. He will design the therapy for you if you'll listen to Him and follow the five ways we have mentioned.


1. It is much like going to physical therapy after an accident or an operation in which you were injured and unable to walk. Here you are taught to walk again using many methods and pieces of equipment e.g., parallel bars.


2. It is not an easy process if you are put on the parallel bars because you may fail, or fall down.


a. What will happen if you fall down?


b. What will your therapist say to you?
1) "You clumsy person (kick), you're going back to your room and it will be a couple of months before you can try again."
2) No, you'll be helped back up to the parallel bars and you will keep at it until you have achieved maximum rehabilitation.


3. It may take some time to learn to walk again, but the power of repeated confession, along with purposeful obedience, will break the power of habitual sin.

C. S. Lewis once wrote "to a lady" some words that may be appropriately repeated here: "I know all about the despair of overcoming chronic temptations. It is not serious, provided self-offended petulance, annoyance at breaking records, impatience, etc., don't get the upper hand. NO AMOUNT of falls will really undo us if we keep on picking ourselves up each time. We shall be very muddy and tattered children by the time we reach home. But the bathrooms are all ready, the towels put out, and the clean clothes in the airing cupboard. The only fatal thing is to lose one's temper and give it up. It is when we notice the dirt that God is most present in us; it is the very sign of his presence"--W.H. Lewis, ed., Letters of C.S. Lewis, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1966, p. 199.

NOTE: This rehabilitation won't happen overnight, it may take some time.


a. Heb. 12:11-13 offers some similar insight--"No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. 'Make level paths for your feet,' so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed."


b. The implication, of course, is that we will not become what we ought to be in a few short days. Leighton Ford once said: "I used to think that God would deal with me like a grape, taking me all in one bite. But now I know that I am more like an onion, and that he is peeling me layer by layer"--Charles Durham, Temptation, Intervarsity Press, p. 54.

Charles Durham, affirmed these remarks. He said: "Ford is right. It took time for you and me to become what we are, a lot of time. It will take time for us to become all that God wants us to be and, most likely, it will take a lot of it. That is what our three score and ten is all about"--Charles Durham, Temptation, Intervarsity Press, p. 54



B. There are two questions you need to ask concerning the Lord's therapy:


1. Do you want help?


2. Do you want to be free? Jesus asked a paralytic who had been laying beside a pool for 38 years a perfectly absurd question, "Do you want to be healed?"--John 15:1-6.
We say, "Well, of course, he wanted to be healed." Not necessarily. There are some people who are so sick on the inside, that they want to be sick on the outside. They enjoy their sickness and maybe the attention it gets.


3. If you want to be free:
a. Then accept the Lord's operation in you to set you free from sin--Rom. 5-8.
b. Then go to the therapy department and go through the most stringent discipline required, at the Lord's direction--Matt. 5:27-30.
c. Then pray with a broken and contrite heart--Psalm 51.
d. Then allow another person to steady you and support you in prayer as you learn to walk again--James 5:16.

Application Questions

1. Who taught you the most about how to handle temptation? (Choose either positive or negative examples that taught you the most.) In a few sentences, what did they teach you and what was the impact on your life? For example, my Grandpa once told me, "You can't stop the birds from flying over your head but you can stop them from making a nest in your hair." This really helped me because..."


2. From our lesson, why is it that the cross is so important to overcoming persistent sins? Quickly scan Romans 5-8, and pull the verses that can really help you with temptation. Which one is your favorite?


3. From the second way freedom is achieved, list all the ways that the Lord's therapy is difficult. Use this lesson, the Scripture, and your own experience to tell why it is difficult. Why is the difficulty worth it?


4. How would you apply the Lord's therapy to such sins as gluttony, gossip, pornography, laziness?


5. What are some of the most common excuses you hear for sin in Christians? (That is, sins of commission as well as omission.) Expose the lie in one of those excuses and give the truth in its place.


6. What's one attitude that needs to be changed in your life? What is the substitute attitude you want to replace it with? What is it that the Holy Spirit desires to do in your life? How do you know what He desires?


7. After reading Psalm 1:1-3 and Psalm 119:9-11, make a list of three verses you want to memorize and meditate on this month.


8. If you need a confidant, who do you call on? Why? What are the positive results of being able to confess to a friend and have them pray with you?


9. Read over Psalm 51 quietly and with feeling. What is David's attitude toward sin? What does he ask for? What happened because he didn't confess? What is his hope as he confesses? Pray through it with one of your own sins in mind.



Appendix I


A tragic and ignorant example of a person interpreting Scripture from a literal standpoint happened when the author was in Seattle. This following article from a Seattle paper tells the whole story:
Kirk Kiessling, 18, a University of Washington freshman from Vancouver, Washington was listed in satisfactory condition at University Hospital Wednesday, after cutting off his right hand with a hacksaw and gouging out his right eye with a screwdriver.

Campus police said, as they were taking Kiessling to the hospital, the youthfully consciousquoted to them from the fifth chapter of Matthew in the Bible's New Testament: "If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and throw it away: It is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away: It is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell."

The youth, son of Mr. and Mrs. Lester Kiessling of Vancouver, underwent surgery at the hospital Tuesday morning. Doctors decided not to attempt to graft the severed hand onto Kiessling's arm. The eye also is permanently lost.

Campus Police Chief Mike Shanahan said his office's investigation showed that Kiessling was not under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the incident, which happened about 2:30 AM Tuesday.

Campus police said the incident took place at an Applied Physics Laboratory bulkhead on Lake Union.

Kiessling then returned to his room in Lander Hall, where his roommate called police.
--Article: "Student Hacks Off Hand." Journal, April, 1976. Seattle (UPI).


Appendix II




What Jesus is saying in Matthew 5:27-30, is that in the area of sexual sin, you have to remove those two areas, sight and touch, which are responsible for awakening your lust. This is necessary because of the law of diminishing returns. The law, as it is applied to this area, states that the more intense your relationship gets with a person, the more you naturally work toward's a natural progression. For example, if you begin a relationship by holding hands, you will discover that it may lose its initial impact and after awhile, all you will get is sweat. So, the strong word, to those who are unmarried and currently in a relationship, is that the more the relationship progresses toward intimacy, the more they will have to make restrictions and take precautions.


Now, if a person has failed at God's restrictions, then they'll have to take more severe measures. In relationship to the eye, they will have to cut out any sight of things that cause them to lust. Men should especially be aware of sight stimulants, because they are more quickly stimulated by sight - that is part of their emotional profile, e.g., Proverbs 4:20-26; 5:7.


In the area of touch, if you are at a level of a relationship in which you cannot control your responses, you also have to take on some disciplines. A person can't just stop when they have been intimate and just go on with the relationship. Once the giant is awakened, it's impossible to just pretend he is not there; a person can't ignore him. Sex is too big and powerful for that. What is needed is to stop and get things in order, in much the same way you would if a bull was in the china shop. You have to close shop for awhile and forget about selling china until you have him out of the shop and the mess is cleaned up.


Now in order to do this, there will have to be penalties - not punishments. Penalties will be set up in order to pay for the repair. The following are comments that are directed to the unmarried couple who has failed morally, but wants a proper and God-honoring relationship. Now, the ideas that are presented have no guarantee for success; but if they are approached with the right spirit, there is a good chance of recovery from moral failure. The suggestions are not magic, but are examples of the kind of penalties a couple may want to discuss. It's possible they can work out a system that is better, but something must be carefully done and mutually agreed to, if there is going to be moral freedom.


First, before a couple does anything, they should make sure they are forgiven. They should read and reread I John 1:9 and then pray and ask God's forgiveness from sin and cleansing from unrighteousness. This is so important, because many people hold on to their guilt, thinking that if they can concentrate on how awful they are, they'll somehow stop acting sinful. The problem is that guilt reinforces our tendency to sin, for as a man thinks about himself, so is he. So what happens is, guilt actually drives a person back to their sin. If you're guilty, why not get a little solace from your sin? The emphasis should be, however, on God's forgiveness and how much He loves us. For if we begin to see that He expects the best from us because He believes in us, then we will want to act accordingly.


Second, to get the giant back to sleep, a couple will have to start completely over again in the relationship. For awhile, they shouldn't make any noise that might arouse the giant, and even when they're sure he's asleep, talk in whispers. That would mean that give up going out alone for an indefinite period of time. They can talk on the phone, see each other in groups, or with another couple; but they should not be alone and certainly not get physically involved.


Now that kind of restriction will be tough, but it will wrench their relationship out of the intimacy they have known into a louder and busier world they have forgotten. In the process, they may get to know each other better and see each other with clear eyes. It could, in fact, do wonders for a relationship, but it won't be easy or comfortable. That's the penalty we pay for awakening the giant.


Then, when a couple is sure things are under control, when they feel that a date alone isn't all that different or more enjoyable than going out with another couple they can go out again. The couple should make sure, however, that some strict and careful guidelines for themselves have been set up and they help each other with them. They must not awaken the giant again, or defraud their partner (excite desires that can't be righteously satisfied), or this time may turn on them and completely destroy the relationship.


All this will seem a little crazy. It will probably frustrate a relationship, but don't forget to laugh when things are ridiculous. A little laughter will give perspective and be a good medicine to the heart.