Sunday, January 25, 2015

5 Ways to overcome temptation

Today, my amazing friend Jared taught an incredible lesson in Sunday School about Christ being tempted in the wilderness. It was a class where after you could ponder on the questions and the doctrine being taught for hours on end. His lesson was so profound I wanted to share some of his lesson, mixed with my own thoughts so that can be reviewed over and over again. He posed the question, "What does Convenient Christianity look like?" This could make up a discussion for hours, but let's break down the word CONVENIENT. Convenience means easy, with little or no effort. Convenience fits will with another's activities, plans, needs, and dare I add desires. Convenience is not painful, not hard, not something that has to be worked at or for, and something that is not challenging in the slightest.

Think of a time in your life that has been really hard or challenging that you had to overcome? Would you take that experience away from your life, which also includes the lessons you learned, the blessings that came after, and the character that was resulted from such a trying experience? Most likely not!!! 

Christ went through three types of temptations while in the wilderness. (Matthew 4:1-11)

(Matthew 4:2-3) Satan tempted Christ to turn stone into bread, which relates to the natural/physical man. He had been fasting for 40 days and 40 nights, right now eating would not be a bad thing, as Elder Holland put it, "The temptation is not in the eating. He has eaten before, he will soon eat again, he must eat for the rest of his mortal life." The temptation lies within doing it the easy way, abusing his power.

(Matthew 4:5-6) Satan tempted Christ to cast himself down the pinnacle to show angels would save him, so he could prove he Christ and have more followers. It's a VERY deserved and worthy accomplishment he is seeking, HOWEVER not yet!! It is much too soon. His ministry had just barely begun. Elder Holland states:"But even the Son of God must wait. The Redeemer who would never bestow cheap grace on others was not likely to ask for any himself." All good, righteous blessings we seek after take time and much effort, patience, and often times of aching for guidance or relief.

(Matthew 4:8-9) Satan tempted Christ to worship him to gain worldly power. To arrive at a point where Christ will one day rule the world, he first must go through much inconvenience, trial, pain, and suffering. (D&C 19:18)

Nothing easy or convenient comes without a price. Heavenly Father wants us to learn and grow and that comes from overcoming temptations and never taking the easy way through any situation. So often the prettiest view is up the longer hill, the hill that causes pain, the hill that is NOT popular or trendy. But the risk is FAR too great for fitting in. Stand out. The power to overcome temptation lies within you. There is ALWAYS a way out!! Look for it and believe in it! (1 Corinthians 10:13)

The easiest way to overcome temptation is by first avoiding it in the first place:

Here are 5 ways to overcome temptation:

1. Surround yourself with people who share the same standards and moral values as you. While it's important we aren't judging others and we are loving and fellowship those who don't share standards, you can't risk your own eternal happiness. Pray often for guidance in balancing such relationships and always avoid the situations or places they may enter.

2. Memorize a favorite hymn. Any time inappropriate thoughts or a temptation enters your mind, start signing the hymn in your mind and these thoughts will leave your mind.

3. Get rid of media that could cause the spirit to leave. Books, movies, songs, posters, magazines, pictures, etc. Check out the For Strength of the Youth pamphlet to see if your media follows the guidelines of the church. 

4. Pray morning and Evening! This one is the simple primary answer that actually offers the most spiritual power. (Matthew 6:6) Heber J. Grant said, "I have little or no fear for the young man or the young woman, who honestly and conscientiously supplicate God twice a day for the guidance of His spirit. I am sure that when temptation comes they will have the strength to overcome it by the inspiration that shall be given them." I strongly suggest that you pray often for your will to match his for greater power over temptations.

5. Read scriptures daily. There are so many great stories in the scriptures that teach us about and show us why we are here, where we are going, and how to earn the greatest blessing of entering the celestial kingdom. When we are focused on the purpose of who we are and where we are going, everything else becomes easier. It's easier to make decisions, it's easier to avoid media that takes away the Spirit, and it becomes easier to focus on the Savior as he is the one we can all follow as we 'Come unto Him'.

While it would be so easy to believe that grace is enough and we can live a convenient life at all times, what good would that do? How would we become changed and renewed? How would we then become more Christ-like, more humble, and experience the greatest happiness that will ever be made known to man-kind? Everything that is hard and difficult and costs a price or a sacrifice, will ALWAYS, always, always be worth it in the end. 

I bear you my testimony that I know when we choose to avoid or resist temptation, we are always blessed for it. Succumbing to temptations will always have a consequence whether it is now or later, there will be a price to pay. I know living in the world we live in today, it can often be tempting to set aside standards so that you "fit in" or become popular, and while a social status may mean everything to you, I promise nothing will bring you greater peace and happiness than choosing to follow Christ. Sure, you may be lonely at times but as I've told many girls before, when you feel lonely or left out, Heavenly Father uses that time to get your attention to teach you something important. This is time you can use to become like Him. I bear my testimony to you that this sacrifice, no matter how burdensome you feel this it is, it's worth it and you will be blessed! I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen!

"Cherish your spiritual burdens because God will converse with you through them and will use you to do his work if you carry them well." - Elder Holland

Thanks for the great lesson, Jared!

For more info on this topic found HERE and HERE .

And THIS talk is incredible for turning your will and desires to match His.

Oh yeah, and I just LOVE this quote!! I couldn't not share.

"No man knows how bad he is till he has tried very hard to be good. A silly idea is current that good people do not know what temptation means. This an obvious lie. Only those who try to resist temptation know how strong it is. After all, you find out the strength of the German army by fighting against it, not by giving in. You find out the strength of the wind by trying to walk against it, not by lying down. A man who gives in to temptation after five minutes simply does not know what it would have been like an hour later. That is why bad people, in one sense, know very little about badness. They have lived a sheltered life by always giving in. We never find out the strength of the evil impulse inside us until we try to fight it: and Christ because He was the only man who never yielded temptation, is the only man who knows to the full what temptation means." 
(C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, P. 142)

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