Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death.
James 1:14-15 NLT
How do we get into the dilemmas that we often find ourselves in? Many people believe, “It just happened…” or they honestly think they don’t have a clue. Well, nothing “just happens.” For example, a woman doesn’t just get “pregnant”; there was a process that had to happen in order for there to be a baby. We are so used to just “doing” things that we don’t even think about how our actions can lead to negative consequences down the line, and inevitably affect our loved ones. If you have a bad habit or an addiction present in your life right now, it didn’t happen overnight. It began with a series of actions and thoughts. For example:
- If you have a gambling problem, it could have started with a couple of seemingly “innocent” trips to the casino or placing bets.
- If you have a problem with pornography, it may be because you set your mind to satisfy your desires by watching some erotic films, looking at erotic pictures, or engaging in erotic conversation.
- If you have a problem with alcohol, it could have started with an “innocent” sip, or curiosity of wanting to know what it tastes like.
- If you have a weight problem (minus legitimate health concerns), it could have started by maybe having one cookie too many, an extra piece of cake, eating every time you look up, being greedy, etc.
- If you’ve committed adultery, it could have started with you wanting something you’re not getting at home, you may have set your eyes on forbidden territory, or you continuously flirt with the idea of having something that doesn’t belong to you.
- If you have a bad habit of sleeping around or you’re a sex addict, it started by disobeying the Word of God and giving into your sinful lust.
- If you’re a culprit of constant criminal activity, it could have started with hanging around bad company, wanting the adrenaline rush of doing something that you weren’t supposed to do, or taking something that didn’t belong to you.
- If you find yourself in debt, it could have started with you being discontent and thinking you had to have “it” right now, even though you didn’t have the money, constantly using a credit card, and overspending.
There are many other bad habits and addictions that are not listed, but all are sin and against God’s will for your life. Jesus came and broke the bondage of sin so you wouldn’t have to be a slave to it any longer (see Romans 6). You need to start being aware of what you’re thinking, saying, watching, and putting into your body. This is why Proverbs 4:23 (NLT) says, “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.” What’s in your heart will eventually come out in your actions. You may think what you’re doing isn’t that big of a deal now, but as James 1:15 says, it will give birth to sin, and sin gives birth to death.
Jesus paints the perfect picture in Matthew 5:29-30 (CEB) of what you should do if you think something may be a temptation for you:
And if your right eye causes you to fall into sin, tear it out and throw it away. It’s better that you lose a part of your body than that your whole body be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to fall into sin, chop it off and throw it away. It’s better that you lose a part of your body than that your whole body go into hell.
Is He literally saying to dismember your body? No, of course not; but what He is saying is that you need to separate yourself from whatever will cause you to sin. It may be people, the computer, magazines, clubs, casinos, movies, conversations, food, recreational activities or substances, stores, etc. The point is to do what you have to do to stay out of harm’s way.
In Matthew 26:41, Jesus said to pray about your temptations so you won’t give in to them. Now don’t get me wrong, Scripture tells us that temptations are guaranteed to come (see Luke 17:1); but even if they come, you have been given the ability and power to overcome it. Addictions and bad habits are all sin, and sin separates you from God. So since the devil hates you and he knows this truth, and wants you as far away from God as possible, he will also tempt you. He’ll lie in your ear and tell you it’s no big deal, you’re allowed to have fun and live your life the way you want, everyone else is doing it, etc. 1 Corinthians 10:23 (NLT) says: “You say, “I am allowed to do anything”—but not everything is good for you. You say, “I am allowed to do anything”—but not everything is beneficial.” As a child of God, you CANNOT do anything you want to do and live any way you want, even if the world is doing it. It’s called living on the narrow path. The narrow path leads to life, whereas the broad path, that most people take, leads to hell (see Matthew 7:13-14). You need to make a decision to kick the habit or addiction, and get back on the path of life.
Everyone needs an accountability partner. It’s that one person to whom you will be responsible to. He or she will help you if you feel tempted, pray with you, check on you, and keep you grounded. If you feel that your temptations are too strong for you to handle by yourself, enlist an accountability partner. Between God, the godly person you may choose, and the Word, you will be able to kick the bad habit or the addiction. The Bible is full of scriptures about believers helping other believers (see Galatians 6:1-2; 1 Thessalonians 5:11; James 5:16; Luke 17:3; Proverbs 27:17; Ecclesiastes 4:9-10). If you are unsure who your partner should be, ask God to show you or to send someone your way. Addictions, bad habits, and sin does not have to rule and ruin your life. You have too many tools at your disposal, and too powerful of a force with you to be overcome by it.
If you know you have some activities in your life that you need to rid yourself of, and possibly others from, pray 1 John 1:9. In order for there to be forgiveness, there has to be a recognition on your part that you have sinned. That is why the phrase “if we confess” is important. Just like rehab won’t work for someone who doesn’t believe that they have a problem, forgiveness can’t be given if you don’t think you have sinned. If you do your part, you can be sure that God will do His part and restore you back to complete fellowship and union with Him.
There’s no sin, addiction, or bad habit that is worth going to hell for, no matter how pleasurable it may seem at the moment. Hell is forever…pleasure is temporary!