The Bible gives us a five point pathway to freedom from those temptations that we struggle to defeat. I encourage you to take a piece of paper and write in large, bold letter your area of weakness. You probably already have it in mind or you wouldn’t be reading this. The first step in the path to freedom is this…
I. KNOW YOUR TEMPTATION PROFILE.
What do I mean by that? Everyone has a unique profile in life. You have a unique thumbprint, fingerprint, and palm print. Your voice has a unique voice print. I did not know this until recently but your heart has a unique heartbeat unlike any other heartbeat in the world. You also have a unique temptation profile. There are certain things that tempt you and certain things that don’t. There are things that tempt other people but don’t tempt you. There are some things that will make you stumble almost immediately and some things that don’t bother you at all. And that’s unique.
Satan is a profiler. He knows exactly what trips you up. He knows exactly when, where and how and he’s always looking for a way to trip you up. So it would be wise if you figure out your temptation profile.
If you can figure out where you’re most likely to stumble then you can predict where that’s going to happen and you can plan in advance to avoid it. So the starting point in breaking really ingrained bad habits in your life is to ask five questions:
1. When am I most tempted?
I’m talking about the day of the week and the time of the day. Which day of the week are you most tempted? Are you most tempted to be depressed on Monday? Are you most tempted to be lustful on Friday night? Are you most tempted to be irresponsible on Saturday morning? You should know the days of the week and what kinds of temptations get you on certain days.
You should also know the time of the day you tend to be weakest with certain temptations. Is it morning, early morning that you’re the most grumpy and grouchy and short tempered with people? Is it mid morning? Is it lunchtime? Early afternoon, late afternoon, dinner time? Is it early evening? Is it after everybody’s gone to bed at night that you turn on that cable channel?
In my case, when it comes to food, my worse time is after everyone else is in bed. In those hours, when snacks arise, game-set-match to the enemy! I can handle any diet until noon. I can go without food until noon. It doesn’t tempt me. But the longer the day goes on the more I want to eat. You need to know when you are most tempted.
2. Where am I most tempted?
Is it at work? Is it in the kitchen? Is it when you’re in a meeting with your boss and tempers are flaring? Where are you most tempted? Is it in front of a computer? You need to not only know “When?” You need to know “Where?”, and when you know when and where you can kind of avoid those places.
3. Who is with me when I am most tempted?
Some of you are most tempted when you’re alone. But others of you, that’s not the problem. You’re most tempted when you’re with all your buddies and they all want to do the wrong thing and you think, “I’ll just do it too.” Some of you lose your temper with certain people – a child, a husband/wife, your boss, a co-worker. Some of you are most tempted when you’re in a crowd of strangers and you think no one’s watching. Some of you are most tempted when you’re at home with your family. You need to know that so you can figure it out.
4. What temporary payoffs do I get when I give in?
There’s always a payoff for giving in to temptation. Nobody would do sin if it wasn’t for the payoff. In fact the Bible even says so. Hebrews 10:25, “There is pleasure in sin for a short time.” Even the Bible says sin is fun. If it were an electrical shock you wouldn’t want that. But the fact is there is a payoff. But it’s a temporary payoff. There is pleasure for a short time. There’s a kick then there’s a kickback.
The problem with temptation isn’t that it’s not fun but it’s fleeting fun. It’s temporary gratification with long term pain. That’s the problem: temporary satisfaction but long term consequences. So you need to think what is the payoff when I tend to fall in this habitual area that I’ve dealt with for years and years or maybe all my life. Is it comfort that I feel? Is it release that I feel? Is it excitement that I feel? Is it a false sense of confidence? Why do I eat that extra donut? Is it because you feel better about yourself when you do that? You need to look at the payoff, what are the consequences (size 38 waist instead of 32!) or you’ll never be able to understand temptation. And you’ll also know that when those things happen you’re getting ready for a temptation.
5. What are my emotional triggers?
Do you get tempted when you’re frustrated? Do you get tempted when you feel lonely? Do you get tempted when you feel unloved? When you get depressed? When you’re worn out? When you’re weary? You need to know the triggers that move you into temptation. The truth is for some of you, you’re tempted when you’re bored. You need to know the answer to “How do I feel right before I get tempted?”