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The Pull of Sin

The Billy Graham Christian Worker's Handbook, (Minneapolis: World Wide Publ., 1984), pp. 231-233

Background

As the compass needle is affected by magnetic attraction, so the Christian feels a pull by sin. This is illustrated by Israel's desire to return to the "leeks and garlics" of Egypt (Numbers 11:5), and Demas, the young man the Apostle Paul mentions are "having loved this present world, and is departed..." (2 Timothy 4:10, KJV). Paul describes the Christian as having two natures, the old and the new, which constantly compete for supremacy. The Christian must understand this, and learn to confront this "magnetic pull" of his own sinful nature and Satan's wiles.

A paragraph by Billy Graham helps put this into perspective: "God never promises to remove temptation from us, for even Christ was subject to it...There is a sense of achievement and assurance that results from victory over temptation that cannot come to us otherwise. Temptation shows what people really are. It does not make us Christian or unchristian. Overcoming does make the Christian stronger and causes him to discover resources of power...In times of temptation Christ can become more real to you than ever." Some Things to Remember About Temptation:

1. Temptation is common to all Christians. "But remember this&md;the wrong desires that come into your life aren't anything new and different. Many others have faced exactly the same problems before you" (1 Corinthians 10:13, TLB).

2. Temptation is of the devil (see temptation of Jesus, Matthew 4:1-11).

3. Temptation itself is not sin, but succumbing to it is.Billy Graham says, "The sin is when we use the temptation for giving in." None of us should deliberately place ourselves in a position to be tempted. Satan will always attack where we are the most vulnerable. "But each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death" (James 1:14, 15, NIV). A thought enters; we pamper it; it germinates and grows into an evil act.

4. God does not lead us into temptation in the sense that He purposely and personally tempts. "Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God; for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man" (James 1:13, KJV) But, God does permit us to be tempted (see Job 1:6-12), so that we can face temptation, overcome it, and become stronger. "I have written unto you, young men, because ye are strong, and the word of God abideth in you, and ye have overcome the wicked one" (1 John 2:14, KJV). We can also be blessed in victory (see James 1:12).

5. No temptation is irresistible. "You can trust God to keep the temptation from becoming so strong that you can't stand up against it, for he has promised this and will do what he says. He will show you how to escape temptation's power so that you can bear up patiently against it" (1 Corinthians 10:13, TLB).

6. Whatever we experience, Jesus has been there before us. He "was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin" (Hebrews 4:15, KJV). Counseling Strategy

1. Ask if the inquirer is a Christian, one who has received Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. If he is not, explain "Steps to Peace with God," page 5. No one is strong enough in himself to overcome temptation, regardless of how high is ideals or motives.

2. Share ways to confront and overcome temptation.

A. We must resist the tempter: "Resist the devil, and he will flee from you" (James 4:7, KJV).

B. We must submit to God: "Submit yourselves...to God" (James 4:7, KJV). This we do by:

(1) Committing ourselves daily to God according to Romans 12:1, and by daily confession of sin so that there is no buildup (Psalm 51:10).

(2) Subjecting our minds to His control. "Be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind" (Romans 12:2, KJV)."Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth" (Colossians 3:2, KJV).

(3) The discipline of prayer" Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need (Hebrews 4:16, NIV)."Pray all the time. Ask God for anything in line with the Holy Spirit's wishes" (Ephesians 6:18, TLB).

(4) Reading, studying and memorizing the Word of God. D. L. Moody used to say, "Sin will keep you from this Book (the Bible), or this Book will keep you from sin." "The word of God is living and active...It judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart" (Hebrews 4:12, NIV).

(5) Associating with the right kinds of friends: God's people. "Do not be misled; bad company corrupts good character" (1 Corinthians 15:33, NIV). "And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another&md;and all the more as you see the Day approaching" (Hebrews 10:24, 25, NIV).

(6) Putting on the whole armor of God (see Ephesians 6:13-18).

(7) Dependence upon the Holy Spirit. How much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him" (Luke 11:13, KJV)."And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter (one to stand alongside), that he may abide with you forever" (John 14:16, KJV)."When he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth..." (John 16:13, KJV).