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Biblical, battle-tested, real-life help for "living by faith in the Son of God" (Galatians 2:20). — Steve Fuller

How Can I Overcome Temptation?

Egypt from Microsoft Publisher ClipartSatan Is Prowling

God’s Word says Satan is a lion seeking to devour those who trust Christ.

And one of the ways he seeks to devour us is by tempting us to sin.

So what can we do?  How can we overcome temptation?

God Tells Us

God tells us in Hebrews 11, be describing how Moses overcame temptation.  Here’s what happened –

While the Israelites were slaves in Egypt, Pharaoh decreed that every Israelite baby boy must be killed.  But God protected Moses, and had him be adopted into Pharaoh’s household.

So Moses grew up as the son of the wealthiest and most powerful man in the world.

In today’s terms that would mean Moses had a water-front mansion on the Nile, his own private jet, the latest sports car, and every earthly pleasure and comfort you could imagine.

But Moses knew that God was calling him to leave Pharaoh’s household and rejoin God’s people.

Massive Temptation

Think of the temptation Moses would have felt.  Should he obey God and join the enslaved Israelites suffering in Goshen?  Or should he disobey God and continue to enjoy power, wealth, and luxury?

Can you feel the pull of that temptation?

So what did Moses do?  He overcame that temptation, and obeyed God.  We can see that in Hebrews 11:24-25 –

By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin.

Good-bye, private jet.  Hello, slavery.

But How?

How did Moses overcome that temptation?

We could think he compared the riches of Egypt with the poverty of joining God’s people in Goshen — and then chose the poverty of obedience just because it was the right thing to do.

But that’s not what he did.  What did he do?  Next verse –

He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward.  Hebrews 11:26

The “reproach of Christ” is how the author describes the suffering of joining God’s people.  He calls it the reproach “of Christ” to remind his readers that this is what they, as followers of Christ, are also called to do.

But notice how Moses overcame temptation.  He looked at the riches of Egypt, and the poverty of joining with God’s people in Goshen, and then by faith saw that the poverty of joining God’s people was greater wealth than the riches of Egypt.

Think about it.  If you saw that joining God’s people would bring you a thousand times the wealth you had in Egypt — what would you do?

Catch the next bus to Goshen.

But Wait A Minute

How is making bricks in the blazing hot sun with a bunch of slaves greater wealth than being fanned on your mansion veranda overlooking the Nile?

The answer is the last seven words of v.26 –

He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward.

What reward?  The same reward we see throughout the Bible — God Himself.

Moses knew that making bricks with a bunch of slaves would be greater wealth than Egypt, because God would be there with him.

He would have God.  He would know God.  He would fellowship with God.

And God is a thousand times more satisfying than water-front mansions, private jets, and luxury sports cars.

When’s that bus leaving?

But There’s A Problem

Too often we don’t see that God is a thousand times more satisfying.  Too often we think sex or money or fame is more satisfying.

So what can we do?  Notice the first two words of v.24 –

By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin.

Moses did this by faith.  What does that mean?

Seeing God By Faith

Since Moses had indwelling sin like all of us us, he did not automatically see God as a thousand times more satisfying than Egypt’s wealth.

So how did he see that God was greater wealth?  By faith.

He turned to God by faith, and trusted God to change his heart and open his blind eyes.

This is the key to overcoming temptation.  Here’s what this means –

Turn to God just as you are — with your unbelief and spiritual blindness.

Father, right now I’m feeling like my water-front mansion is a thousand times more satisfying than You. Help me!

Ask Him, through Jesus, to forgive you for your unbelief –

I confess my unbelief to You as sin.  Please forgive me.  Thank You, Jesus, for bearing my sin in your body on the Cross.

Ask Him to increase the work of His Spirit in your heart, and trust Him to answer –

Please, Father, by Your Spirit, cleanse me from unbelief, and open my eyes to see Your all-satisfying glory.

Then meditate on passages of Scripture that display God’s beauty and glory, trusting that as you do so He will change your heart  –

You have always been, from eternity past (Psalm 93:2).

You created the heavens and the earth (Genesis 1:1).

You parted the Red Sea so Israel could cross on dry land (Psalm 106:9).

You, Father, did not spare Your only Son, but gave Him up to save me (Romans 8:32) .

You, Jesus, who are fully God, became a man, to save us (John 1:14).

You, Jesus, loved me and freed me from my sins by your blood (Revelation 1:5).

In your presence is fulness of joy forever (Psalm 16:11)

Keep praying over the truth of God’s Word until the Holy Spirit enables you once again to see and feel that God is a thousand times more satisfying than anything else.

When He does — you’ll join Moses on the bus.

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(Picture is from Microsoft Publisher Clipart.)

Category: Overcoming Sin and Temptation

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19 Responses

  1. Paul Walton says:

    Hey Brother,

    Fantastic insights about faith, it really is the key to living in, and for Christ. I really appreciate how you were honest in your assessment of how Moses may have struggled to choose to leave the king’s palace and his life of advantage. In my conversation with unbelievers they tend to think that followers of Christ must have great will-power, and live a disciplined life by gritting their teeth, rather than just go with the flow and live free from rules.

    But the same temptations that Moses overcame by faith are the very same issues we face today, unbelievers don’t need to see Christians pretending they have it all together with plastic smiles, (to blessed to be stressed) being one of my least favorites saying, but rather being real about their struggles, it’s a fight of faith.

    I’m sure Moses had times that he desired to return to former life, I’m sure he cried out to God for help not to fall backwards, he was a man of flesh and blood, he was like us. Knowing human nature I’m sure even some of his Jewish brothers chided him about his choice to leave his advantaged life and become a slave (I work in the construction field, not the most benevolent folks.)

    Can we always see the reward clearly? Do we always feel that knowing Christ is worth dying to all this world has to offer? Being honest I would say no, maybe not even most of the time. We are divided men we are flesh, and we are spirit, there is a war going on constantly, and the only way to endure and to overcome it is by faith.

    Real men walk by faith. Hey I like that saying, maybe it will catch on :-)

    • Steve Fuller says:

      Hi Paul,

      Great to hear from you, as always :)

      And I agree with you that we don’t always see the reward clearly. It is a war.

      But as we fight the fight of faith, and set our hearts prayerfully upon God’s Word, the Holy Spirit will strengthen us so we once again see and feel Jesus Christ as our all-satisfying Treasure.

      Just like you said — real men walk by faith.

      Onward!

      Steve

      • Paul Walton says:

        Steve,

        So true, I need daily time in God’s word, I’m prone to wander from the One whom I love and loves me. I’m so easily pulled away from seeing Christ as my heart’s treasure, so thankful for my brothers in the Lord who help me fight the fight of faith. Steve you are great influence on many folks, Mercy Hill may not have great numbers in people who attend, but those who call it home, are growing deep roots in their faith because of it’s leadership.

        Be blessed today,
        Paul

  2. Christian Z. says:

    As always Steve… Great insight and explanation. Thanks for encouraging me personally with this and serving the universal church. The righteous man shall live by faith. Amen.

  3. Sean says:

    Good post Steve. I rarely if ever think of Moses when thinking of Biblical stalwarts who overcame temptation. And I am sure there was significant temptation for him to want to continue living the high life.

    Though I do not recall Moses leaving the lap of luxury to join the enslaved Israelites suffering in Goshen, but rather running in fear from Eygpt after killing an Eygptian and then not returning to Eygpt until God miraculously spoke to him through a burning bush – and even then He didn’t want to go due to his oratory weakness. I don’t doubt that Mose had faith and realize the author of Hebrews has far greater insight than I, but were it not mentioned in Hebrews, would we be citing it as a great example of faith today?

    • Steve Fuller says:

      Good thoughts, Sean.

      You are right that Moses (and Abraham and David and others listed in Heb 11) were not perfect examples of faith.

      But they *are* examples of how by faith sinful people can obey, overcome temptations, work miracles, suffer, and enjoy commendation from God.

      It is interesting that Exodus does not emphasize Moses giving up Egypt’s wealth to suffer poverty with God’s people. But even though it’s not emphasized in Exodus, it is part of what Moses experienced. So I guess the Holy Spirit inspired the author of Hebrews to highlight that aspect of the story, both because it was true, and because it is what the readers needed to hear.

      Onward, brother!

      Steve

  4. Ted Clark says:

    Enjoyed your post, Steve.
    At what point in his life would you consider he reached the spiritual level described in Hebrews?
    Charles Swindoll, I believe said, “Moses spent 40 years finding out he was a somebody, 40 years finding out he was a nobody, and 40 years learning what God can do with a nobody.” My suspicion is that it was sometime during that last forty years.

    Blessings,
    Ted

    • Steve Fuller says:

      That’s a good question, Ted. As I read Exodus, and Hebrews 11:24-27, I’m pretty sure he made the choice to join God’s people after his 40 years in Egypt; so he would have been around 40 at that point, right? But maybe I’m missing something?

      Anyway — thank for the interesting question, and I’m glad you enjoyed the post.

      In Christ,

      Steve Fuller

  5. Angel says:

    I am a teenage girl. I am a christian but I don’t understand whether I am with God or not but I love reading your messages.

    It let’s me know something which I have never known before 8-)

    • Steve Fuller says:

      Hi Angel,

      I am so glad you are finding this blog helpful. You mention that you are not sure whether or not you are with God.

      God gives us good news in the Bible — that we CAN be sure we are with God, completely forgiven through Jesus, and having God as our Father forever.

      This happens as you turn from whatever else you have been trusting to satisfy you, and turn to trust Jesus Christ to forgive you, to change you, to guide you, and to satisfy you.

      That’s what most all of these messages are about. I pray that you can trust Jesus Christ, experience His forgiveness, and grow in trusting Him.

      In Christ,

      Steve Fuller

  6. Roy says:

    What I have read in your posts is hopeful. However, I have experienced so much rejection, disapointment anud heartache that my capacity for trust of any kind is severely diminished.I have been exposed to tohese Ideas before and immediately became hopeful but then over time became dicouraged and gave up and returned to the only satisfaction (temporary relief), I had ever found, which was in sin of some kind or other.
    I came from a background of abuse and abandonment,and havetried desperately to find love and affirmation from relationships with women,this only resulted in exponentialy greater amounts of rejection. I now am in my third marriage,(15 yrs), to a woman who is a good person but who is either uninterested or incapable of any significant emotional connection.
    I love my wife and work very hard to be a good husband while simultaneously dragging an anvil behind me because I am starving inside and have been for my whole life.
    My question is: What do I do while I am waiting for God to help? I don’t have enough faith or hope to get me very far though I keep trying.
    I have done counseling with a Christian counselor, talked to countless pastors, and read countless books including John Piper and John Eldridge.I have been in Church and small groups for most of my life except when I get too disapointed whith it and quit going for a time.It is very hard to see anything good to be thankful for when your heart remains broken for so long.

  7. Roy says:

    I guess I’m asking, how does what may eventually happen help me with circumstances, reality, that is here and now and more than I can handle for another day.
    If I were to pour gasoline on you and set you on fire and then told you to trust all that God promises to be to you in Jesus when you begged me to put out the fire would that help?
    Help!

    • Paul Walton says:

      Roy,

      This article from Desiring God might be helpful, I’m praying it will.

      Paul

      Desiring God: For Those Feeling Forgotten
      http://www.desiringgod.org/blog/posts/for-those-feeling-forgotten–2

    • Steve Fuller says:

      I’m not sure I’m understanding your question. But here’s some thoughts –

      This last Sunday I preached that Jesus is the founder and perfecter of our faith (Heb 12:2). This means that even if your capacity to trust has been severely wounded, it’s not all over for you, because He gives us faith and strengthens our faith.

      So it’s really true — Jesus Christ will give you faith and strengthen your faith. Really. Our part is to pray and ask for His help (Mark 9:24). And prayerfully read and fight to trust God’s Word (Romans 10:17). Jesus will use both of these to strengthen your faith in Him.

      You mention that you face circumstances today that are more than you can handle. I have felt that from time to time myself. But that statement is not true. For those who trust Christ, God ordains every circumstance, even our trials, to bring us more nearness with Him (2Cor 4:17). And He promises to give us all the grace we need to endure every trial and tribulation (1Cor 10:13; 2Cor 9:8).

      Maybe read through the middle column posts on discouragement and hopelessness — they might give you some more food for thought. And I will pray for you right now, Roy.

      In Christ,

      Steve Fuller

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