Have you ever asked yourself, "How in the world did I end up here?" Whether it had to do with your finances, a relationship, your health, your job, your attitude, etc., think of a "simple" act of disobedience, manipulation, dishonesty, or negativity that seemed like it would cause little to no harm in the beginning, but at some point grew bigger or worsened over time.
The point of this isn't to dig up the past; but rather to prepare for the future. In order to learn from our past, we must at first acknowledge where things went wrong and then take steps to correct it going forward. Maybe that one little lie led to more little lies and then bigger lies. Maybe that one credit card charge eventually turned into a mountain of debt. Maybe that one returned call or text turned into many nights of fornication and heartbreak. Perhaps that one glass of wine turned into a nightly ritual of alcohol consumption. That one puff turned into a nicotine addiction that you just can't seem to shake....Whatever it is, we have all been there.
Now that you have that example in mind, let's uncover how one small snowflake of deception can quickly become a giant snowball of utter chaos and dysfunction.
The Devil's Antics:
1 Peter 5:8 says, "Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.
The devil is waiting for you to feel lonely, arrogant, reckless, disappointed, discouraged, depressed, worthless, fearful, insecure, etc. Hey preys on weakened spirits. I can guarantee that the first snowflake of whatever issue you faced started in your mind. You thought you could resist it. You thought it wouldn't be a big deal. You thought nobody would find out, and the corresponding actions followed shorty thereafter. Right? So when you are faced with temptation, recognize that it will first begin as a mind game.
1 John 2:16 says, "For everything in the world-the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life-comes not from the Father but from the world.
Lust isn't just about sex. Lust can also mean having an overwhelming desire or craving for anything such as food, love, money, power, drama, etc. The pride of life is formed through arrogance/abuse of God's grace. So when we are led into temptation, the devil tries to stir up these feelings from within before we ever put them into action. Eve's biggest downfall was that she allowed Satan to mislead her thoughts, which caused her to lust after something with negative consequences attached (Genesis 3:1-6). We're still paying for that mistake thousands of years later!
So don't think that your actions just affect you. Although you may not be able to see the immediate effects, for every action there is a reaction. So it is important that you do your best to pass these tests. Deceptive seeds that take root in you heart can only get worse over time. The roots grow stronger, the weeds begin to multiply, and before you know it, the life is being sucked out of you in some form or another. Know that God never intended for it to be that way, and that there is hope!
With that being said, how do we combat temptation?
1 Corinthians 10:13 - "No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it."
1. Meditate on God's Word - Psalm 1:1-3 If you don't know what God's Word says, then how will you know if you are being deceived? Study your Bible, memorize Scripture, write Scriptures down on index cards and carry them with you, etc.
2. Speak the Word of God - Joshua 1:8 Always remember that God's Word is your weapon! When you are being tempted, speak your way out of it! Don't just think about it, but say it aloud.
3. Guard your heart - Proverbs 4:23 Remove yourself from potentially harmful people, situations, shows, music, and environments. Surround yourself with people and things that give you life, not things that lead you into the darkness.
4. Watch the company you keep - Galatians 6:1 If you've outgrown the company that you're keeping, cut the ties or else you will find yourself doing the exact same things from which you are trying to be set free.
5. Captivate ungodly/deceptive thoughts - 2 Corinthians 10:5 Your actions were constructed in your thoughts long before they became your reality. You must captivate those thoughts that lead to destruction. Either you have to control your mind or it will control you. That is a battle that you cannot afford to lose.
At the end of the day, we have all made mistakes, and temptation will continue to come no matter what. The question is, will you be ready to take a stand or simply repeat the fall? Take time to study the Scriptures listed above. Think about ways that you can better prepare for the tests and trials that will come your way. Pray that God would not only help you prepare, but also help you prosper during those times. Even if you have already lost a few battles, remember, God has already won the war. So get your arsenal ready, you're going to need it!