“Guard your heart”, God tells us in His Word, “for out of it flows the issues of life.”
Although I realised the significance of this scripture, I never really looked too deeply into it. I always took it at face value: be careful of what you allow yourself to grow attached to and become passionate about- don’t fall in love with the wrong things, because what you do and how you live your life is led by your passions.
This, to me, meant that I shouldn’t allow the wrong things to enter my heart. I never really took into account the fact that these wrong things might not look or seem wrong- in fact, they would seem like everything I wanted. Sparkly and new, wrapped in shiny gift paper. So why would one guard their heart from something that they liked?
See, the tricky thing about temptation, and what gives temptation the power that is has over so many people, is that it’s never something that you find distasteful. It’s always something that you want, or like. They say the devil will never come to you in a black cape, with horns and a pitchfork. He will come disguised as an angel of light. He comes as your heart’s desires. The hard truth is that there is always some form of pleasure attached to sin, and that’s what always appeals to us during temptation. This makes it easier to give in than to resist it.
As a 17-year old high-schooler, I believe it’s safe to say I’ve experienced- and failed at resisting- my fair share of temptation. Everything looks enticing, everything piques curiosity, everything looks good. But failing to resist temptation also comes before a fall… the guilt and disconnection you feel from God overrides any pleasure you thought you experienced. I finally grew tired of being in that constant roller-coaster of righteousness and sin… of getting my relationship right with God, then folding at the sight of temptation and feeling too guilty to even pray. Of practising restraint and moderation, then burning out.
At a church conference last week, the pastor mentioned a few things about temptation. It wasn’t the main message, but it impacted me and stuck in my heart since. It seems ridiculous that I couldn’t figure out where I was going wrong, but thankfully, the Lord revealed it to me.
When deciding to resisting temptation, we focus on just that- the decision. The real challenge isn’t to make the decision or to start implementing it- the problem is consistency. And not consistently avoiding tempting situations, or always saying no- but consistently staying in the same Word that led you to make that decision.
Temptation is a formidable foe, but the Word of God is sharper than any two-edged sword (Hebrews 4:12), and can bring down any weapon of the enemy. The only way to successfully and permanently resist temptation is to stay deep in the Word, and speak the Word of God over whatever temptation you’re facing.
The Lord tells us to flee from youthful lusts (2 Timothy 2:22), and that we will never come across any temptation that we aren’t able to overcome (1 Corinthians 10:13). He also tells us to put away our sinful nature and earthly desires, to follow Him and to trust Him in all that we do, because where we are weak, Christ is strong (2 Corinthians 12:10). Even if you do make a mistake and cave in, you won’t be disconnected from Him. Why? Because He knows your heart. Because you’ll be able to overcome guilt (the tool that the enemy uses against you), as you know that your Heavenly Father has forgiven you of your sins, and so you can forgive yourself and grow from the experience.
Although I’m still young and have a lot more to learn, I believe that temptation doesn’t have to have control over me any longer. I can resist the devil be He who dwells in me is greater than the one who brings temptation. With Him, I can overcome and conquer. And so can you.