(29) The path of falsehood-send it away!
Give me the grace of your instruction.
(30) I have chosen the way of truth.
My life is in line with your judgments.
(31) I cling to your testimonies.
Don’t let me be put to shame!
(32) I will run the course of your commands.
Because you have set my heart free. — Psalm 119:29-32
How can we avoid temptation? How can we keep from doing the things that harm us, that we know will harm us, and yet we are tempted to do anyhow?
Let me break this down into steps. This is something I need to keep simple. When temptation comes, I don’t need to be figuring out complex theology. I need an answer.
- Choose (v. 30a) â€“ Choose right now what you are going to do. Decide what types of movies you will watch and what you will not do. Make your decision firm. Don’t wait until something is coming on television, or you see an ad for pornography in your e-mail inbox, look longingly at it, and wonder whether it would be OK to look.
- Pray (v. 29a) â€“ Ask God to turn aside temptations. You aren’t going to do this on your own. You aren’t even going to be the one to do it. If you live a holy life, it will be because the Jesus is living in your through his Holy Spirit.
- Give yourself positive things to do (v. 30b, 31a, 32a) â€“ One of the major dangers in avoiding temptation is being negative. Take gossip for example. You should decide absolutely that you will never listen to gossip. But you can run around the church every Sunday simply thinking, â€œI will not listen to gossip.â€ So you don’t talk to anybody, or you’re on guard in every conversation because someone might gossip. Instead, think of all the positive things you can say, and occupy the time with that. If you keep busy praising God, saying nice things about your pastor, and complimenting your neighbor’s children, you won’t have time to get tangled up with gossip!
- Realize that it’s only by God’s grace that you can do any of it. This ties to #2, of course. Sometimes we see God as giving us grace in salvation, but we somehow feel that discipleship is our own job. It’s all grace. It’s all done by God’s power.
- Remember that this isn’t just about you as a church person. This is about you every day, everywhere. Gossip can take place at work. You can be tempted by an addiction at lunch time. Plan to occupy your work day positively. It will be good for your career, and at the same time you’ll be preparing for heaven.
Who said discipleship wasn’t practical?