I. What is the Difference Between Testing and Temptation?
A. God tests you to strengthen your relationship, and to build in you a deeper understanding and faith in Him (Gen. 22:1) (Heb. 11:17-19) (John 6:6, 26-29). God does not tempt man to sin (James 1:13).
B. Satan tempts you to disobey and compromise God's Word so that he can weaken or destroy your faith and relationship with God (Gen. 3:1-19) (John 13:2) (John 10:10).
II. Where Does Temptation Come From?
A. From Satan (Gen. 3:1-19) (Matt. 4:1-11) (1 Cor. 7:5).
B. From others (Prov. 1:10) (Prov. 6:24-25) (Prov. 7:21).
C. From my own lusts (James 1:14-15).
III. How Can You Overcome Temptation?
A. Be clear about the facts.
1. Temptation is not sin (Heb. 4:15) (James 1:14-15).
2. There is always a way of escape (1 Cor. 10:13).
3. You are not tempted any differently than anyone else (1 Cor. 10:13).
B. Resist the spiritual warfare (Eph. 6:11) (James 4:7) (1 Pet. 5:8) (Eph. 4:27).
C. Resist ungodly relationships (Prov. 13:20) (Prov. 2:20) (2 Thess. 3:14) (Psalms 119:63) (John 18:18,25).
D. Resist your own lusts (Titus 2:11-12) (2 Tim. 2:22) (Gal. 5:16).
IV. Is Victory Over your Sinful Desires Really Possible?
A. Yes. This is the promise of God's Word.
1. In Romans 6:14 Paul says, "For sin shall not have dominion over you." The word dominion means; to be ruled over, or to be mastered by. Paul tells us it's because we are not under the law but under grace. The grace of God is given to each of us, to enable us to live free from sin's dominion.
2. In Luke 4:18, we see that this is the purpose for which Christ came to the earth, "to set the captives free", and "to set at liberty those who are bound".
3. In John 8:32-36, Jesus promises that the truth will make you free. Sin brings bondage, but He brings freedom.
4. But this doesn't mean freedom from the presence of sin in my life. The Bible doesn't promise me that I will become perfect or sinless in this life. God only promises that sin doesn't have the right to master me (1 John 1:8-9) (1 John 2:1) (Phil. 3:12-14).
V. How Can You be Free from the Sin that Seeks to Dominate You?
A. First, you must see what Jesus has done.
1. In Romans 6:6 Paul says; "knowing this that our old man was crucified with Him". You must first know that the old you, and the sinful nature you possess, were nailed to the cross with Jesus Christ. He not only died for your sins, but He became sin (2 Cor. 5:21).
He took upon Himself all that causes us to commit acts of sin. The penalty was paid, and the power of sin was destroyed, or rendered inoperative, for those in Christ. The power of sin doesn't have the right to dominate your life anymore, because you are a purchased possession of Christ, and in Christ. As sin and death cannot dominate Him anymore, neither can it dominate you because you are in Him (Col. 3:3) (Rom. 6:9-10).
B. Second, you must reckon or consider yourself dead to sin.
1. How do you do this?
a. Believe the testimony of God's Word (Rom. 6:6) (Col. 3:3).
b. Believe even though your feelings or experience seem to say otherwise. Even as Abraham considered not his own weak body when God made a promise to give him a son. He became convinced that God was able to do what he had promised (Rom. 4:17-21). Even so you must trust His promise, not your feelings.
c. This will be a fight of faith. Don't be surprised if you struggle here. This is where the battle is won or lost (1 Tim. 6:12).
d. To reckon yourself dead to sin is a choice. A choice to trust. A choice not to yield to sinful thoughts, desires, or actions. A choice to allow God to dominate you instead of sin (Rom. 6:12,13) (Rom. 8:13).
C. Finally you must reckon yourself alive unto God!
1. How do you do this?
a. Believe the testimony of God's Word (Eph. 2:1) (Gal. 2:20) (Rom. 6:13).
b. To reckon yourself alive to God is a choice. In prayer you must yield yourself to God. You acknowledge His right to reign over you, because He bought you by His blood (1 Cor. 6:19-20).
c. You acknowledge to Him, that just as you have refused and put off the old man, you now want Him to produce the new man in you by the power of the Holy Spirit. You want to see the fruit of holiness come forth in your life (Rom. 6:19,22).
VI. But, how Does a Person's Sinful Nature Still Seem to Get the Advantage Over Them?
A. It all comes down to not making good choices.
1. People always choose the path of self-effort. This is a path that always ends in failure, because you are rejecting God's Word and God's method. Sin is stronger than your will to resist, and any code you try to follow (1 Cor. 15:56) (Rom. 7:18-20).
2. The choice to stagnate or backslide in your spiritual life. You must walk in the Spirit if you don't want to be overcome by your fleshly nature (Gal. 5:16) (2 Pet. 3:17-18).
3. The choice to put yourself in tempting situations with people who will tempt you. Many don't realize how strong their sinful nature is, and how powerful peer pressure is (Prov. 4:14) (1 Cor. 15:33) (Prov. 7:21).
4. The choice to entertain lustful thoughts or fantasy. Paul says, "make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts". The Greek word for provision means; to have forethought or to consider in advance (Rom. 13:14)(2 Cor. 10:5).
5. The choice to just give in to sin. Your sinful nature gains advantage over you when you let your desires dominate.
It all comes down to a choice. Who will you give in to (Rom. 6:12) (Gen. 39:1-12) (Dan. 1:8)?