Issues of Life

The Marriage ABCs – T for Temptation!

THE MARRIAGE ABCS

Copyright © Ufuomaee

marriage-vows

Do you know what is the most common thing in the world?  Temptation!  Do you know what is the most NORMAL thing in the world?  Temptation!!!  Temptation is everywhere, no matter the size of the sin, whether it is the temptation to conceal something that should be revealed, or the temptation to tell a small white lie, or to concoct an exagerrated or elobarate deceptive account.

Temptation is something every matured person should be used to experiencing, and overcoming!  You will keep experiencing temptation, because the Devil doesn’t quit!  And you should keep overcoming temptation because you are NOT IGNORANT of his devices…  Temptation is not something you should be worried about.  Foolishness is.

“Facing temptation is not a sin.  Falling for it, which is foolishness, is!”

The fool doesn’t learn from past mistakes!  Tempt them with the same thing 1000 times, they will fall 1000 times!!!  The more you give in to temptation, the stronger its hold on you.  It can become crippling and addictive, and you feel powerless over it.  But temptation can be overcome – no matter how long you’ve been a fool for it.

Temptation begins to lose its power the FIRST time you say “No” to it.  It is a bit like fear…  Once you face it and stand up to it and kick it out, it is harder for it to affect you again.  Sure, there will still be situations that your courage and faith will be tested, but because you have defeated it once, you are bolder and SMARTER to withstand it.  So the key to defeating temptation is to become bold and wise about saying NO to it – consistently!!!

Temptation usually starts small.  Very tiny even.  It likes to creep in, and make room for itself in your life.  You have to be diligent about shutting out every avenue to temptation in your life.  As well as shutting it out, you also need to insulate your life against it with wisdom.  Build up your walls and tower against it, so that big or small, temptation can’t do its destructive work.

The foolish think temptation is BIG, so they never cover their gaps.  They are continually exposed to temptation and giving in to small doses of it that when the big one comes, they are powerless to rebuke it, not to mention deal with it.

There are FIVE things you need to know about temptation:

  1. It is not NEW.  There is really nothing new under the Sun (Eccl 1:9), and temptation is as old as time!!!  Think about Adam and Eve.
  2. It is extremely common.  It is indeed rife, because we live in a fallen world, which is dominated by evil.  No matter how much we avoid temptation, we will still confront it in our lives.  We should not be surprised by it, or think that it is a judgement on our spirituality.  Remember, even Jesus was tempted.  However, we must look to God for a way out (1 Cor 10:13).
  3. It starts small.  Temptation is not fond of announcing itself.  It wants to be received, so it will come in a way that it can be more readily accepted.  You have to be very discerning and scrupulous in weeding it out of your life.  Do not be careless and give the devil a foothold (Eph 4:27)!
  4. It can be overcome.  For every problem, there is a solution.  Temptation is from the devil, and the empowerment to overcome it must come from God!  Do not rely on your own strength, but seek God’s face when tempted, and ask for the grace and wisdom to overcome (Jam 1:5, Phil 4:13).
  5. Persistence is the key to overcoming.  You only lose once…and that’s when you give up the fight!  As long as you’re in the race, you are winning, no matter how often you fall.  Your falls are only occasions to learn how you can perfect your strategy, and also help others not to fall and to win.  So do not give up, do not tire of resisting evil, and keep choosing life (Gal 6:9)!

Here are FIVE things you need to do to overcome temptation:

  1. You must be able to recognise it.  This requires discernment.  You need to know the truth, so that you can be able to identify a lie and not fall for it;
  2. You must acknowledge it.  This requires honesty.  If you live in denial, you are already falling for temptation;
  3. You must pray about it.  This requires humility.  You can’t fight this battle in your own strength, and you need to be humble and confess that you need God;
  4. You must flee and shut it out.  This requires sincerity.  You need a love for the truth, so you won’t compromise for evil.  Don’t give it a chance to explain, advertise itself or otherwise persuade you;
  5. You must nourish yourself with wisdom.  This requires fellowship with God.  Spend time studying the Scriptures and communing with God in prayer.  Build up your fortress again, and abide in Christ, so you are less likely to face temptation, and more able to respond in wisdom when confronted by it, like Jesus did.

If you have fallen into temptation, despite fleeing or resisting it, you should:

  1. Confess your fault.  Humble yourself.  You are not the first to fall, and won’t be the last.  Yes, you thought you were better than that, but dwelling in pride won’t undo what has been done.  Admit your error, so you can be cleaned and restored.
  2. Forgive yourself.  It can be hard realising the damage you have caused, and living with it.  But dwelling on the past won’t help you in your present or future.  Learn from it and move on, and use it as an opportunity to help others.
  3. Receive forgiveness from those you offended, and God.  Believe that God has forgiven you, and that He has separated your sins from you as far as the East is from the West (Psa 103.12).  Understand that it may be hard for others to forgive, but when they express their forgiveness, accept it and appreciate them for it.
  4. Fix the damage.  This can be hard, but it is very important for healing that you do what is needful to restore trust into your relationships, after sin has breached it.  You will need to remain humble, and keep owning your fault, without condemning yourself.  What is needed is love, because love covers a multitude of sins (1 Pet 4:8).  So, practice sincere love.
  5. Rebuild your fortress against further temptation.  Don’t be afraid to start building again, even from the foundation.  Lay a good foundation and strong walls, by having fellowship with God and other believers, and doing what will strengthen your personal faith and your relationships.

Let’s connect this with marriage.  When people think about temptation in marriage, they usually think about sexual temptation and infidelity.  It is probably because it is the BIGGEST and most common form.  It is very important to “affair-proof” your marriage, by building up your fortress and air-tight shutting all avenues to sexual temptation.

These FIVE steps should help as a guide:

  1. Choose your friends wisely.  Friends influence what we do and say, and who we become.  The wrong sort of friends can become weeds in a marriage garden, choking out the trust and intimacy between the couple.  The right sort of friends enhance the marriage with godly counsel and support;
  2. Set and keep boundaries on intimacy, emotional as well as physical, with others besides your spouse.  You need to be careful about the signals you are sending to those outside your relationship, if you are overly intimate with others.  You might be communicating that your needs are not being met at home, and so there is room for them to come in.  If you need more intimacy, let your spouse be your first resource.  This also makes your spouse feel safe and protected.
  3. Immediately end, without need of an explanation, any relationship that is compromising on your boundaries, or where you feel unduly attracted to the person.  This is extremely important.  Anyone who is seeking a competing position in your life to your spouse is an ENEMY of your marriage, the same way anyone/thing seeking a competing position to God as the lord of your life is an enemy of your faith!  You must resist them, and ultimately run from such.  Don’t worry so much about other people’s feelings.  The person whose feelings you ought to protect is your spouse, and you need to ensure that they know that they come second only to God!
  4. Surround yourself with people who believe in your marriage, support you and your spouse, and who share your values in life.  Iron sharpens iron (Prov 27:17).  Such relationships will give you a rich perspective on what marriage is and can be, and encourage you to persevere towards it.  If ever one of you falls, they will be there to help you both get on your feet, and will not be like vultures, looking to swoop in and take advantage of your weakness.
  5. Grow your intimacy with your spouse and with God.  Read I for Intimacy, to learn more about how to improve intimacy in your marriage.  Read Conversations with God to learn about how to improve your communication with God.  When your connection to these two most important people in your life is strong, it is very near impossible that you will succumb to temptation, but will be well-equipped to defeat it every time.

We need to be aware that temptation that destroys marriages, doesn’t simply come in a sexual package.  In fact, as lot more would have gone wrong before someone decides to cheat, on their spouse.  Other ways temptation can affect your marriage are:

  1. The temptation to be selfish.  Can you think of a few ways you give into this type of temptation each day?  When last did you do something just because your spouse liked it?
  2. The temptation to be proud.  When was the last time you doubted yourself in a disagreement?  Do you hold bitterness against past failures of your spouse?
  3. The temptation to be greedy.  Are money problems crippling your marriage?  Do you constantly feel discontent with what and how much you have?
  4. The temptation to be lazy and complacent.  Do you make the effort to spend time together?  Are you both working towards a plan to better your marriage and Faith walk?
  5. The temptation to be paranoid.  Do you often doubt your spouse?  Do you find yourself spying or snooping on them?

There are probably more, but if we are able to resist and close off these avenues, by practicing sincere love towards one another and faith in God, then we should have a turbulence free marriage.  I hope that you have been able to see that falling into temptation is NOT INEVITABLE.  Temptation is only a suggestion to do evil, but you have a good and sound mind to resist it.  Use it! Don’t be foolish, and don’t give place to the enemy.  Kick out temptation before it becomes a trial of your faith, and/or marriage!

Photo credit: http://www.churchplants.com, http://www.pinterest.com

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