After the delay in purpose-progress during the recent holiday pause, I find myself in a period of repeating temptation to start the new year. How do I best deal with this?
To quickly summarize, temptations come in three types: Lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, and pride of life (1 John 2:16). Jesus himself was tempted in these three ways in Matthew 4:1-11:
:3 …Tell these stones to become bread (flesh)
:6 …Throw yourself down… He will command his angels [to protect you] (life)
:9 …All the world, I will give you (eyes)
Jesus, being who he is, was able to (calmly?) respond with appropriate Scripture, because that’s just who he “is” Hebrews 4:12
The Word of God is alive and active, sharper than any double-edged sword. It cuts all the way through, to where soul and spirit meet, to where joints and marrow come together. It judges the desires and thoughts of the heart.
Me? I tend to be more like a deer in the headlights, or the naughty Nazi guy in Raiders of the Lost Ark looking eagerly into a big, big meltdown. So while conjuring up verses is one effective way to counter enticements, I instead try to FLEE!
1 Corinthians 6:18 Flee from sexual immorality!
1 Corinthians 10:18 Flee from idolatry!
1 Timothy 6:11 Flee these things! (:10 Love of money is the root of many evils)
2 Timothy 2:22 Flee the evil desires of youth!
Deliver me from my enemies, O Lord!
I have fled to you for refuge!
Early in recovery, I implemented this strategy with some “Thou Shalt Not” commandments:
But I found that I was still focusing on the temptations, because thinking about not thinking about something is essentially the same as thinking about it. I needed a different approach – something that was more a replacement of the whole subject. Eventually, I composed
All thoughts to praise
On Christ to gaze
With hands just raised
Heart and mind amazed!
As I hope you can see, in this way my thoughts, eyes, and hands were directed towards positive things and away from what I needed to escape, and I got an added bonus of a changed heart and mind.
It doesn’t always work, I confess. So, in an entirely practical way, I have another sometimes successful strategy: just start singing (even to myself). I very often have tunes stuck in an endless loop in my head – I’ve heard this can happen to a lot of people. Letting them play full volume can save me.
Sing praises to God, sing praises;
Sing praises to our king, sing praises.
I will sing to the Lord,
Because he has dealt bountifully with me.
I will praise the name of God with song
And magnify him with thanksgiving.
I will sing to the Lord with my whole being;
I will sing to my God continually!
How about you? How are you able to resist or flee from temptations, so that desire does not give birth to sin (James 1:14)?