Oftentimes, we treat temptation like it’s a complete surprise to us. We trip, stumble and fall, look up from the ground in bewilderment and think, “Where did that come from?” It should be no surprise to us, sexual temptation especially.
Frankly, if we sat down and took an honest look at the situation, instead of trying to worm our way out of it, we would probably discover a pattern that leads to falling for us. In some cases those situations are not avoidable.
For instance, some women experience a spike in their sex drive right around the time they ovulate. This is ingenious on God’s part- make women desire sex at the same time that sex will make babies. It’s a brilliant plan! Those of us unable to act on that may not find it so ingenious. We face that monthly time of testing with dread.
Others of us might find ourselves easily tempted by neutral situations, or maybe not so neutral situations. Your best friend is getting married and the other bridesmaids want to throw a lingerie shower. You believe (as you should) that sex is good and should be celebrated and you want to support your friend, but you are not looking forward to buying anything much less attending a party specifically dedicated to the fact that she is going to have sex. No matter how God-honoring that party is, you are still going to be tempted.
There are some situations we just cannot change. There are times when we know that we are walking into the fire and that there is no other way. There is no way around the fact that we have God-given sex drives that get hyped up over the stupidest things at times. It’s unavoidable, and it serves its purpose… just not now.
So, what can you do when you know your will is about to be tested? Brace yourself.
I have always found such a great ‘battle plan’ in Ephesians 6. Why is it so great? Because it is all about protecting you. It is one battle plan- one universal battle plan for any situation.
We try to customize our strategies- When I’m alone with a guy, I will do this. When I am home alone, I will do that. While it is good to implement boundaries to help protect your weaknesses, we all know that our best laid plans have holes. This is why temptation seems to catch us off guard. It sneaks in through a window when we were guarding all the doors.
That is why I love the truth of Ephesians 6. If you are not familiar, this is a passage that talks about putting on the whole armor of God (start in verse 10). The verse that I find most moving is verse 13. Verse 13 says,
“Therefore put on God’s complete armor, that you may be able to resist and stand your ground on the evil day [of danger], and, having done all [the crisis demands], to stand [firmly in your place].”
So often we think of ‘fight.’ We want to fight temptation; we want to go screaming into the battle, powerful, strong and able to conquer. It’s interesting that this verse doesn’t mention anything about fighting (the verse before it does). Both this verse (verse 13) and verse 11 talk about being able to stand– not fight, not conquer– stand.
That’s what we want to do, isn’t it? We want to stand our ground. We want to make it through this onslaught of temptation without letting it knock us on our rears. We want to make it out standing. So how do we do that? Well, I think the answer is right there in Ephesians:
1. Be Strong in the Lord and in His might- verse 10
2. Put on Your Armor – verse 11 (Note: This is best done before battle)
3. Remember the devil is tricky – verse 11 (He also doesn’t like you)
4. Recognize that this is bigger than a rogue sex drive (flesh and blood)- verse 12
5. Put on the Whole Armor (not just the parts that are convenient and fashionable)- verse 13
6. Focus on truth (interesting that this is what guard our loins… just food for thought)- verse 14
7. Make sure your relationship with God is right (interesting that righteousness guards our hearts… again, food for thought)- verse 14
8. Remember the truth of the Gospel (grace changes things!)- verse 15
9. Hold out your faith- your identity in Christ- verse 16
10. Remember your own salvation (interesting that this protects our heads/minds)- verse 17
11. Pick up that Bible and use it (remember, this is how Jesus resisted tempation)- verse 17
12. Pray at all times- verse 18
13. Stay alert and be on the look out- verse 18
14. Pray for others who may be tempted (you would be surprised how much this helps!)- verse 18
When you know temptation is coming, prepare your heart and mind for what is to come. Yes, it is important to set up boundaries and to have an escape plan, but the most important thing is to get ready to stand.