By Clarence L. Haynes Jr., Crosswalk.com
If you are reading this article, here’s the first thing I need you to know: you are going to face temptation. You are not immune to being tempted—no one is. It’s not a matter of whether it will happen it is simply a matter of when.
From the very beginning, with the first two people (Adam and Eve) who ever lived, Satan has been using temptation to try to destroy the heart and souls of men.
Satan understands your role as a man in your homes, churches, and in society. He knows if he can get you to fall...it will have a domino effect, and it will impact others. That’s why, men, you must be on guard. You must recognize the enemy’s schemes and build hedges of protection to protect yourself and those around you.
I am sure you don’t have to think too hard to find someone you know who fell victim to temptation. However, just because temptation has caused others to fall, doesn’t mean you have to.
More importantly, I want to also consider some things you can do to avoid becoming victim to these temptations. By the way, temptation alone is not sin, only when you yield to it.
Therefore, as a general rule, when you are tempted, look for the exit. God has promised he will provide a way of escape so you can stand up and not give in to the temptation. With that in mind, let’s look at five of the top temptations that men are prone to face:
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Temptation #1 – Money
Lie: Your fulfillment in life is tied to how much you have.
There is nothing inherently wrong with money. In fact, money is neutral. Yet there seems to be extreme views about money in Christian circles. The pendulum swings from God wants everyone to be rich...to poverty is a sign of your holiness. Neither one of these are true exclusively. Let me be clear, God has no issue with you having money. The problem comes when money has you. This is the root of the temptation.
When the love of money overtakes you, it is amazing what men will do in the pursuit of wealth. Men will sacrifice their family, their ministry, their friendships, their time with the Lord, even their calling.
You probably know some of these men (hopefully you are not one of them). They have believed the lie that their fulfillment in life is tied to how much they have. If I could just get more…then I will be happy.
Another deception that is often used to cover up the love of money is: when I have more, I will then do more and help more people. Why is this a deception? Simply put, if you’re not helping people now and doing more now, you won’t do it if you have more money.
I don’t know who is the originator of this quote, but it says, “money makes you more of what you already are.”
Don’t believe the lie that having more money will make you more satisfied, more complete, more generous, or even happier—because it won’t. You may end up with more things or more stuff, but that doesn’t equate to more contentment...so be careful.
The most important question to ask in your pursuit of riches is: what is it costing you? As Paul told Timothy, the love of money cost some people their faith. Ecclesiastes 5:10 says:
Whoever loves money never has enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income.
So guard your heart against the deceitfulness of wealth. Learn to be content in whatever circumstance you are in. This doesn’t mean you don’t strive to improve or better yourself because you should. It just means you don’t tie your total satisfaction and enjoyment in life to your financial situation.
Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have… – Hebrews 13:5
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Temptation #2 – Sex
Lie: I can look and flirt with it, as long as I don’t indulge.
Truth: Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body. – 1 Corinthians 6:18
As a man, this is one of the greatest temptations you could possibly face. Because we are stimulated by visual images, there are plenty of opportunities for temptation all around. Our society is filled with sexual images everywhere you turn.
I know you understand what God requires, that you keep yourself free from sexual immorality. I also believe you know the untold damage that has occurred because of bad decisions men have made in regards to sex. There is no need to beat you over the head with that. Instead, I want to give you some practical advice on how to overcome this temptation.
The best way to overcome sexual temptation is to use preventive measures. The pull of your sexual desire can be very strong. The best way to overcome is to remove yourself from the place of temptation. If you remember the story of Joseph and Potiphar’s wife. She wanted Joseph to have sex with her and Joseph refused. He was noble. What was nobler was what he did after that.
She kept putting pressure on Joseph day after day, but he refused to sleep with her, and he kept out of her way as much as possible. – Genesis 39:10 (NLT, emphasis added)
Many people focus on the fact that Joseph refused, I focus on the fact that he stayed out of her way as much as possible. Remember Joseph was a young man, with young man desires, and I believe he knew that if he stayed around Potiphar’s wife too much, eventually she would wear him down. To avoid that, he kept himself away from the temptation as best he could.
Please don’t make the mistake of believing I got this, or I can handle this or it’s just a conversation or it’s just lunch. These are all the potential trappings of how you can get caught.
The best remedy is to run. I have yet to meet a man who overcomes sexual temptation without first removing himself from the situation. Preventive measures are necessary to overcome and that’s why Paul says run from it. Trust me, it works.
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Temptation #3 – Pride
Lie #1: Don’t admit your struggle because people will look down on you. You need to seem like you have it all together.
Lie #2: Look at how wonderful you are, and all that you have done with your hands. People should be praising you.
Truth #2: God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble. – 1 Peter 5:5
Pride is nasty. It is the thing that got Satan kicked out of heaven. It is one of the things that God hates. Have you ever been around an arrogant person? Have you ever been the arrogant person? I think you understand why God hates pride.
The temptation of pride takes on two forms. In one form, you to try to look better than you are, don’t show anyone your weakness. In the other form, you believe you are better than you are, as in ‘can’t nobody touch me.’ Both forms are destructive.
In God’s kingdom, there is a unique dichotomy. The way up is to go low. The problem with pride is that it can cause you to not recognize or act upon your need for God. You think you can’t let anyone know your struggle which is a huge deception that can keep you trapped in secret sins. The other side of pride, where your arrogance lives, can bring you down because you believe you are better than everyone else. You don’t need them, and in the extreme case...you don’t need God.
What is the solution to pride? When you think you are too big, remember Jesus. He is God, yet lowered himself to become man. He is King, yet became the servant. He is exalted, yet he chose humility. This is what God wants for you.
In other words, don’t believe your own press. You may be good, but God is greater. If you keep this in right perspective you won’t give in to this temptation and will always be able to be used by God.
Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. – 1 Peter 5:6
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Temptation #4 – Envy
Lie: I’m better than that person. The only reason they got that is because… (You can fill in the rest).
Truth: You shall not covet your neighbor's house. You shall not covet your neighbor's wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor. – Exodus 20:17
Most men I know have a burning desire within them to compete. Greater than the need to compete is the need to win. If you are playing me in anything I am going all out to beat you. I’ll love you afterward, but I want to beat you now. That’s the competitive nature. While that is fine on the basketball court or PlayStation, this can be devastating when we carry it into our personal lives.
I know people who are always measuring themselves against what other people have or are doing. They get a new car, you get one. They do something new in their ministry, you do something new in yours. This can become a never-ending, envy-filled competition that blesses no one and puts your desires at the forefront.
God never called us to compete with one another. He called us to encourage and inspire one another. In the kingdom of God, when one wins, we all win (maybe not on the basketball court, but definitely in the kingdom). When one falls, we all fall. Work as hard as you can to do your best and make sure you are helping your brother do the same.
Do nothing out of rivalry or vanity; but, in humility, regard each other as better than yourselves – Philippians 2:3 (CJB)
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Temptation #5 – Lust
Lie: You see it. You want it. You can have it.
Lust is when you are consumed with desire for something. While we often associate lust with sexual sins it goes beyond that. You can lust for power, position, fame, and recognition. You can lust to be the one at the front of the room that is getting all the praise. You can lust after likes and loves on social media.
The problem with lust is that the pull can lead you to do whatever it takes to satisfy that desire. David lusted for Bathsheba. Esau lusted for a bowl of stew. Absalom lusted for the throne of his father David. Even Satan himself lusted after the throne of God. Is it no wonder that Satan would use lust as a driver and temptation in the hearts of men?
It is important not to ignore the warning signs and recognize when your desire for something begins to become unnatural. One of the signs is when you stop caring about people around you and your singular focus is to get what you want, regardless of the cost. This is of the world and Satan is the god of this world...so be careful.
Everything in life has the potential to become an unnatural lust, because we still live in bodies that have a sinful nature. That’s why walking close to God is so important because if these things pop up he can point them out and more importantly help you root them out.
As I said at the beginning, temptation alone is not sin. However, Satan uses your sinful nature and the things within you for which you have an inclination. This is how he attempts to trip you up.
I want to leave you with one of the greatest ways to defeat your sinful nature and thus overcome temptation:
But I say, walk habitually in the [Holy] Spirit [seek Him and be responsive to His guidance], and then you will certainly not carry out the desire of the sinful nature [which responds impulsively without regard for God and His precepts]. – Galatians 5:16 (AMP)
Walk in the power of the Holy Spirit—and be the victorious, overcoming man that God has called you to be.
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