Why Temptation?

We are super-conquerors in Christ, but we don’t always live up to it. Why? To sum it up in one word: temptation. If God wants us to live undefeated lives as Christians, why doesn’t He just take away temptation?

Temptation is universal (1 Cor. 10:13). Everyone has been tempted. You were tempted yesterday, you will be today, and are guaranteed to be tempted tomorrow. 

Temptation isn’t a sign of spiritual weakness. Jesus was tempted (Matthew 4; Hebrews 4:15)

Temptation doesn’t mean that God doesn’t love you. In Matthew 4, Jesus was led into the wilderness to be tempted right after he was  commended by His Father and assured of His father’s love.

Temptation is not a sin. We don’t need to be ashamed of temptation because temptation is not a sin. Sin takes place when we yield to that temptation and make a choice contrary to what God would have you do.

Temptation doesn’t come from God. While it can be used by God for our good, temptation doesn’t originate with God. We are tempted by evil desires and God can have nothing to do with that which is evil (James 1:13-14).

So can there actually be valid reasons temptations? Let’s consider these possible reasons.

1) Temptation is a test of allegiance. We cannot say we love someone or trust someone without having to make some hard choices on that person’s behalf. God wants us to develop passion for Him that is greater than our passion to sin.

God allows us the privilege of difficult choices so that we can prove our love for Him. Our response to temptation is an accurate indicator of our love for God. See 1 John 2:15.

Biblical Example: Joseph and Potiphar’s Wife. See Genesis 39:9–10.

Each temptation leaves us better or worse; neutrality is impossible. We prove our love for God when we say yes to Him, even when the odds appear to be stacked against us. What it boils down to is this: Do we value the pleasures of the world or those that come from God?

2) Temptation can produce transformed passions. God does not make our choices easier because temptation is His process for character development. These temptations, struggles, and (yes) even our failures are used by God to help us grow in spiritual maturity. God wants to do something more beautiful in our lives than simply give us victory over a sin. He wants to replace it with something better — with the positive character of a fruitful life. 

See Deuteronomy 8:2-5. The Israelites didn’t realize how rebellious they were until they got thirsty, hungry, and faced hardship. Temptation brings the impurities to the surface. This allows God to begin the refining process in our lives.

3) Temptation can bring strength to our weakness. God uses our sins to show us His grace and power on our behalf. See Romans 5:20-21; 2 Corinthians 12:7-10. If you are tormented by an especially stubborn sin, you may be on the verge of seeing God’s grace displayed in your life. 

Temptation isn’t terminal, it can be the gateway to living undefeated.
 

 Life Application Questions

 
  1. What have been your thoughts or feelings about temptation? Why do we often tend to view temptation negatively?
  2. One of the reasons for temptation is that it is a test of our allegiance to God. In what ways does temptation reveal our loyalty to God?
  3. Read Genesis 39. What was the key to Joseph overcoming temptation?
  4. Kelly said, “Temptation leaves us better or worse; neutrality is impossible.” Why can’t our response to temptation be neutral?
  5. Read Deuteronomy 8:2-5. Another reason for temptation is that it can produce transformed passions. What might this practically look like in our daily life? How does temptation have the potential for transforming our passions?
  6. Temptation can also bring strength to our weaknesses. Read Romans 5:20-21; 2 Corinthians 12:7-10. What do these verses reveal about strength in our weakness?
  7. Can you think of any other positive reasons for temptation to add to this list?
  8. What is one thing you can do differently this week as you face temptation?

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Super-Conqueror

It’s time to start living out our God-given, Christ-enabled, Spirit-empowered victorious life!
 
He has saved us and offered us a life undefeated, a victorious life. Read: Romans 8:31-39
 
You are a super-conqueror because God is for you (vs. 31). The Father is for us and proved it by giving His Son (Rom. 8:32). The Son is for us (Rom. 8:34) and so is the Spirit (Rom. 8:26). God is making all things work together for you (Rom. 8:28). Contrary to what you may feel right now, God delights in you. See Zephaniah 3:17.
 
You are a super-conqueror because Christ died for you (vs. 32). The fact that God is for us is demonstrated in the giving of His Son, Jesus, as a sacrifice for our sin — and this “while we were still sinners” (Rom. 5:8). Does the benefit of Christ’s death end once we are saved? No way. It is still the way we live an undefeated life. See 1 Corinthians 1:18. If when we were sinners, God gave us His best, now that we are God’s children would that change? Will He not give us all that we need to be a super-conqueror?
 
You are a super-conqueror because you are justified by God (vs. 33). This means that He has declared us righteous (blameless, in good standing) in Christ. This isn’t because of anything you have done. See Titus 3:4-7. Our Christian experience changes from day to day, but justification never changes. We may accuse ourselves, and men may accuse us; but God will never take us to court and accuse us. Jesus has already paid the penalty and we are secure in Him — justified before God.
 
You are a super-conqueror because Christ intercedes for you (vs. 34). See Romans 8:1–2 ; Hebrews 7:25. Intercession means that Jesus Christ represents us before the throne of God and we do not have to represent ourselves.
 
You are a super-conqueror because nothing can separate you from God’s love (vs. 35-39). God does not shelter us from the difficulties of life because we need them for our spiritual growth. See Romans 5:3-5. God permits trials to come that we might use them for our good and His glory. God gives us the power to conquer (Rom. 8:37). Victory takes place through temptation and trials, not apart from it and these events can serve God’s purpose when they are surrendered to him.
 
It is not our hold on Christ which sees us through to victory, but his hold on us. The victory is God’s love “that will not let me go.” Nothing in all of life, with its allurements and dangers and trials, can separate the believer from that love.
 
Life Application Questions
  1. Read 1 John 5:1-5. According to this passage, what is the key to being undefeated — to living a victorious life?
  2. If that is true, then why do so many Christians regularly live with the agony of defeat?
  3. Read Romans 8:26-34. Kelly said that we can be super-conquerors because the Trinity is for you. What evidence do we find in this passage that backs up that statement?
  4. How does Christ’s death on the cross bring you victory still today — even after you are saved? See Romans 8:32; 1 Corinthians 1:18.
  5. Read Romans 8:33; Titus 3:4-7. Why is being justified before God so critical for living an undefeated life? If you are a child of God, why wouldn’t God condemn you?
  6. Read Romans 8:34; Romans 8:1-2; Hebrews 7:25. What do you find in these passages that should inspire and empower you to live victorious lives?
  7. Read Romans 8:35-39; Romans 5:3-5. According to these verses, what good can come from your trials and temptations?
  8. As much as you don’t like to face trials and temptations, why are they critical to living an undefeated Christian life?
  9. What is one thing you need to do this week to apply this message to your life?

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Redeem Your Regrets

God wants to take your story of regret and turn it into a story of redemption.
 
Redemption is allowing God to take everything from our past, even our worst regrets, and use them for his great good. Your worst moments are where God can do his greatest redeeming work. See Romans 8:28. God wants to take even your worst mistakes and use them for great good! Your worst moments are where God can do his best work.
 
As David recognized and released his regret to God; God began to redeem his regrets by giving him a son. See 2 Samuel 12:24-25; 1 Kings 1:29-30. Solomon would go on to do great things as Israel’s king: the temple, economic success, peace, lineage of Christ. God redeemed David’s regrets through the birth of Solomon. It’s how God worked all things for the good in David’s life, even his greatest regrets.
 

Three Truths About Redemption

 
Truth #1: Redemption is Something God Wants To Do. Without God, redemption seldom happens. God is the one who can redeem any and every regret! And the good news is…God wants to do it! But this doesn’t mean we don’t have a part in redemption. Our part is to trust that God can redeem our regrets. Although you can’t engineer your own redemption, you can partner with God in it.
 
Truth #2: Redemption Takes Many Forms. Each time God redeems someone’s difficult past for a preferred future, it is perfectly adapted for that person.
  • Redemption can look like Finding Your Way Back to God.
  • Redemption can look like Spiritual Growth.
  • Redemption can look like Rescheduling.
  • Redemption can look like Redirection.
  • Redemption can look like A Chance to Bless Others.
Truth #3: Redemption Requires Us to Take the Long View. God always sees things from the perspective of eternity and not merely right now. How you perceive your regret right now isn’t how you will see it in the future.God’s redemption doesn’t erase whatever it was that happened to cause us regret. But his redemption does set it in a larger context of goodness, transforming the darkness of the past into the brightness of a new future.
 
God can’t redeem the regrets you don’t release. God wants to take your story of regret and turn it into a story of redemption.

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Release Your Regrets

Question #1: Do you regret committing a sin?

 
It’s important to determine whether your regret involves sin or not, because if it does, letting go of the regret will require a key step — repentance. To repent is to agree with God that you have turned away from him or have not following his plan for your life. It also means that you resolve to live differently in the future through his help.
 
So how do we release this regret? We Ask God for Forgiveness. That’s how David released his regret — See Psalm 51; 1 John 1:9; 2 Corinthians 7:10.
 

Question #2: Do you regret hurting someone else?

 
When our regret is hurting someone else, we need to Ask forgiveness from the person you’ve hurt. Furthermore, if possible, make amends to the person for your wrongdoing and seek reconciliation. See Romans 12:8.
 

Question #3: Do you regret making a mistake?

 
When we make a mistake, we may feel the need to punish ourselves or beat ourselves up. We haven’t sinned, but we still feel awful. When we make a mistake, we need to Forgive Yourself.
 

Question #4: Do you regret being hurt by someone or something?

 
To release the regret of being hurt by someone or some circumstance, we need to Forgive the Offender. This absolutely is easier said than done. Our humanness wants to be vengeful. But holding on to our hurt only keeps us from moving forward. See Ephesians 4:32.
 
How do we forgive someone who has hurt us? We draw strength from the God who has forgiven us. We depend on God to heal our hearts. Steps to releasing this regret: pray, have an honest conversation with the offender, write a letter.
 
By now, I’m sure you have at least one regret heavy on your heart. How far into your future do you intend to carry the pain of your past? Starting over is for everyone. No matter who you are, no matter what you’re holding onto, you can live a life beyond regret. It starts with a decision; a decision to not let the pain from your past influence your future anymore.
 
Don’t relive your regrets, release them.
 

Life Application Questions

Last week Stephen encouraged us to recognize our regrets.  But to move past your recognized regrets you need to release them.
 
Why do you think people struggle to release their regrets?
 
How is it related to the sorry cycle of longing and regret?
 
Kelly suggested four “troubleshooting questions” to help us release our regrets.
 
Read Romans 12:18.  What does this teach about asking for forgiveness from someone you have hurt?
 
Read Ps 51:1-10.  What does David’s prayer (after adultery, deceit and murder) teach us about asking for forgiveness from God?
 
Read Ephesian 4:32.  What does this teach about forgiving others?
 
Read Matt 18:21-35.  How does this parable help us better understand Ephesians 4:32? 
How can we find the power to forgive?
 
What is one step you need to take this week to apply this message to your life?
 

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Recognize Your Regrets

In order to break out of the Sorry Cycle of longing and regret, we must first recognize our regret to understand what it is we are feeling sorry about.
 
We have two choices in front of us when it comes to regret…
 

Choice #1: Hide Your Regret

 
This is what it’s like when we choose to hide our regrets. It’s like we’re walking around trying to live our lives while at the same time ignore the regrets buried just beneath the surface. We don’t want to think about it, so we shovel more dirt over our regrets hoping to bury them deeper. — And we can get really good at keeping them there.

Truth is, your regret will always be fighting to come to the surface. David and Regret (2 Samuel 11; 12:1-7; 13)

“There were two men in a certain town, one rich and the other poor. The rich man had a very large number of sheep and cattle, but the poor man had nothing except one little ewe lamb he had bought. He raised it, and it grew up with him and his children. It shared his food, drank from his cup and even slept in his arms. It was like a daughter to him. Now a traveler came to the rich man, but the rich man refrained from taking one of his own sheep or cattle to prepare a meal for the traveler who had come to him. Instead, he took the ewe lamb that belonged to the poor man and prepared it for the one who had come to him.” (2 Samuel 12:1-4)

David is enraged by Nathan’s story, and he says: “As surely as the Lord lives, the man who did this must die! – He must pay for that lamb four times over, because he did such a thing and had no pity.” (2 Samuel 12:5-6)
 
Now, I wonder how long Nathan paused after hearing David’s response. I can imagine the tension building…Then Nathan said to David, “You are the man!” (2 Samuel 12:7)
 
And the regret breaks through the surface. David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.” (2 Samuel 12:13)
 

Choice #2: Recognize Your Regret


We have an enemy who wants us to keep our regrets in the dark. He whispers in our ears, “If people find out, it will ruin you. Don’t’ you dare let that out.” And so there it sits…

It sits below the surface feeding our shame and our heartache. But if we want to start over, we’ve gotta bring it to the surface, expose it to the light, and recognize our regret. 
And I know this is not easy!

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.” (1 Peter 5:6)
 
You have one of two options: To hide your regrets or to humble yourself and recognize them.
-First, get honest with yourself. You have regrets.
-Get honest with God. What happened will come as no surprise to him, but he needs to hear it from you.
-Get honest with someone else – someone who can be a Nathan to you and help you start over.


Life Application Questions


1. Our natural tendency is to hide our regrets. Why do you think that is? How can you
personally relate?

2. Denial and Multitasking are common coping mechanism when hiding our regrets. Can you identify which coping mechanism relates best to you? Why?

3. Hiding your regrets is dangerous, it limits you, exhausts you, and even paralyses you. Share a specific time in your life when you experienced this to be true.

4. Satan loves it when we live life in the Sorry Cycle. How does he lie/deceive you when it comes to your regrets, in order to keep you in the cycle?

5. God places people and circumstance in our lives to help get our attention. God used Nathan for David. Who or what has God placed in your life to help you see the light?

6. Pride gets in the way and will keep us from digging up our regrets. What can we do to humble ourselves?

7. We all need accountability. Someone who knows us and has permission to speak boldly and honestly into our lives. Who have you given permission to do this? If not, who can you seek out this week?
 
 

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Love Your Regrets

Regrets of Action — Feeling sorry for what I did. Action regrets make up the largest and most common category of regrets. Because we make choices many times every day.

Regrets of Inaction — Opportunities I did not act upon. Researchers say in the short term people tend to regret actions; but in the long term, we’re more likely to regret inaction.

Regrets of Reaction — My response to being hurt. When bad things happen to us, quite naturally we regret them. There’s nothing wrong with that. What could be problematic is what we do in response to these regrets. sometimes these regrets of reaction are the ones that hurt the most.

Sorry Cycle — We go from longing to regret and back to longing and then regret and then longing and still more regret!

Whether it is action, inaction or reaction – we all have regrets, and I want to show you how to break out of the sorry cycle and not only break out of it, but learn to love your regrets! God is big enough to redeem even our worst regrets. He can use everything in our lives for a greater good. We can all start over and live a life beyond regret.

Biblical Example: Jesus Helps Peter Start Over (Luke 22:54-62; John 21:1-17)

Jesus confirms the relationship. Implied in Jesus’ question, “Do you love me?” is a priceless reassurance: “Because I still love you.” When we know we are loved, we can find the courage to face our regrets.

Jesus confirms his purpose. By giving Peter a job to do he is saying, “You still have a purpose to fulfill. You are not disqualified. Jesus refuses to let Peter get stuck in the Sorry Cycle. He confirms their relationship. He confirms Peter’s calling. And with this, Peter can move on from his regret and start over.

We see “regret” as a finish line, when in fact it’s meant to be a starting line. Regret is actually meant to be a helpful thing, a “functional” emotion. Regret moves us to reparative action. It gives us motivation to do things differently, to make things right. In that way, we can learn to love our regrets because they can launch us forward into a better future.

When we learn to love our regrets, we can grow from them and discover that it’s never too late to start over.

Life Application Questions

 
 
What do you think about these categories of regret? Does the list resonate with you?
Which bucket would you say holds the majority of your regrets?
 
Read Proverbs 28:13 and Psalm 51:10.
 
Have you ever been hurt by someone who didn’t own their mistake or bad choice? If so, how could their ownership contribute to the greater good of all involved and overall good of the situation?
 
Have you ever made a situation worse for yourself or others by not owning the effects of your bad choice or mistake?
 
In what ways have your own regrets offered important and helpful feedback?
 
Read John 21:15-19. After Peter denies his association, friendship, and love for Jesus, Jesus reassures Peter that his love and purpose are still on the table for Peter to receive. Peter was overcome by regret, but Jesus was still present with him and inviting him into God’s mission.
 
Have you ever felt unloved by God or disqualified for God’s work because of your regrets? How did you move past that?
 
Have you ever seen God use a broken part of your past to move his mission forward?
Read 2 Corinthians 7:8-11. Jesus wants us to know we can all live a life beyond regret. While owning what went wrong, being compassionate to all the feelings involved, and respecting consequences, regret can be a catalyst for hope, freedom, and life-giving change. In fact, in this sense, we can learn to love our regret, learn from it, and use it for good.
 
Has regret ever lead to life-giving change for you? Share about that experience.
 
In light of your regrets, are there any next right steps you should take to make to help bring hope, freedom, or life-change to the relationship or situation?
 
 

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