Speaker: Dr. Harold J. Sala | Series: Guidelines For Living "So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don't fall! No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it" (1 Corinthians 10:12,13). Question: If you were tempted, is it possible that under certain circumstances, you might not be able to resist? It isn't a question of whether or not you could resist; it's simply that you know you possibly would not. At that moment, your brain would shut off and feelings would take over. You would not think about the fact what you would do could destroy your career, your marriage, your integrity. Under certain circumstances you just don't think; you act. Before you answer that question, you need to ponder for a moment some of the situations in which men found themselves, whose stories could have been written up in any global news source, but instead they were written in the Bible. These are the sad chronicles of men who had so much going for them but threw it away when sexual temptations presented themselves and without thinking, took the plunge. David, of course, is foremost among them, a man described as a "man after God's heart." No wonder Paul wrote, "So be careful. If you are thinking, 'Oh, I would never behave like that'--let this be a warning to you. For you too may fall into sin" (1 Corinthians 10:12, LB). These men--the ones who failed the test of temptation--are balanced by a Joseph who resisted sexual temptation. So how does a person know whether or not he is strong enough to resist the force of what you know is wrong? Guideline #1: Make the decision ahead of time. With resolve, you affirm, "Never, under any set of circumstances will I back down from what I know is right.” Growing up with a fear of God helps you with this decision, but committing your life to Jesus Christ with firm resolve and deciding ahead of time that you will serve Him helps you drive a stake in the ground firm enough to hold you. As I walked to my hotel in Sydney, Australia, a girl about 20 years old started walking beside me. "Do you want a girl?" she asked. I was overnight in a city where nobody knew me. Was I tempted? I glanced at the girl and thought of my daughters. "No," I quietly said, "I've got three girls: a wife and two daughters about your age." No problem. I had decided ahead of time. Guideline #2: Don't be at the wrong place at the wrong time. That's part of resisting temptation. Curiosity is deadly. If you have to meet privately with a person of the opposite sex, take a business associate with you. Don't be misled by thinking, "Having lunch with her is strictly business." Keep the door of your office open. “But everybody does it.” So what? You're not everybody and neither is the person you married. Guideline #3: Feed your mind and soul on what builds integrity, not what destroys it. While the Internet is a powerful communication tool, it's a cesspool of pornography and filth. Hey, nobody can stop you from doing what you want to do, but the issue is what do you want to do? Paul wrote that you are to feed your mind on what is pure, honest, of good report and so forth. Check out what he says in Philippians 4 and concentrate on expediting it. Remember as you think, you are. Guideline #4: Be accountable. Join a men's or women’s group, start a weekly meeting with a few friends who care enough to ask tough questions and be honest enough to give them straight answers. Guideline #5: Keep your spiritual life vibrant. Your relationship with the Lord--being in the Word, praying regularly, being involved in your church--forms the bulwark that keeps those within safe from the storm without. Only the fool says, "It couldn't happen to me," but the wise man or woman ensures it won't happen to them. The battle is worth fighting and worth winning. Resource reading: 1 Corinthians 10:1-13.
Speaker: Dr. Harold J. Sala | Series: Guidelines For Living "The one who sins is the one who dies. The son shall not be punished for his father's sins, nor the father for his son's. The righteous person will be rewarded for his own goodness and the wicked person for his wickedness" (Ezekiel 18:20, LB). All he wanted to do was to burglarize the apartment he had broken into, so he told the court, but when he saw the sleeping victim who had shed most of her clothing on that warm summer evening, he said that he was unable to control himself. When he was arrested and brought to court, he explained that he was suffering from a thyroid illness which made him lose control of his passions; therefore, he argued, he was not responsible. The court, however, didn't buy that line of reasoning and found him guilty of both rape and burglary. Courts have heard a lot of stupid explanations, among which the most grievous is the argument, "I couldn't help it!" There is a wide-spread myth that men are wired with different voltage, and because of their sexual natures, they can't really control themselves, that to honor their vows made at a marriage altar is something which is physically beyond themselves. This argument makes women the real provocateurs who are responsible because they are so attractive. I think Adam reflected that mentality as he told God, "She took of the fruit and I did eat it…Yes, God, it was her fault.” True, men and women are different, much different. They think differently; they act differently; they are driven by different stimuli. While men think they understand women, they really don't. They presume that women think, act, and respond as they do. Not so! But the issue still has to be confronted, are men responsible? Or is it really true, at some point they have to be excused because they can't help themselves, and to hold someone responsible for what he can't help, just isn't fair. While women are more verbal than men, men are pretty good at convincing women that they can't help it when they are tempted. A father sat in my office, confronted by his daughters, whose anger over how he had disregarded vows made to their mother made the whole atmosphere pretty warm. Parrying their accusations he countered, "Your mother should have known that I was a male and that I had the responsibility of entertaining other women in business. They expected it." Are men animals on the level of street dogs? Or--and this is where the premise changes quickly--are they created in the image of God with a knowledge of right and wrong? Do they think, reason, choose and then bear the consequences of their choices? No court in any land can be convinced that a rapist can't help himself because that's the way he is, or that a thief should be excused because he has bad genes, or that a murderer should be set free because his victim made him angry. God says that you are responsible, that you make choices and should face their consequences. Upon that premise, all civilizations base their laws and apart from this, no woman, no daughter, no child would be safe from those who excuse their behavior on the basis of genetics. The thief- turned-rapist will have eight years in prison to rethink accountability, but more than a few men will have a lifetime of regrets, having winked at their marriage vows, because a wife, unconvinced, will have closed and locked the door of her heart forever. "Abstain from all appearance of evil," Paul wrote to the Thessalonians. The best way to avoid temptation is to refuse to allow yourself to be where you know you will be tempted. But above all, remember what you have to lose in exchange for a few moments of passion. Some things are never, ever worth the price you pay. Don't forget it. Resource reading: 2 Samuel 11:1-27
Speaker: Dr. Harold J. Sala | Series: Guidelines For Living No temptation has overcome you that is not uncommon to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. 1 Corinthians 10:13 Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you want to do something badly and you are quite sure that no one will know if you do it? There is one catch‑‑you know that you should not do it. It is against your better judgment and deep within your heart you feel that you should not. Then you think, "Nobody will know and besides just this one time won't count." That is the predicament of TEMPTATION and it is a dilemma as old as the human race. Way back in the Garden of Eden, man first faced temptation and yielded to it. From that day to the present, men and women, teens and children have battled temptation. It comes in all sizes and varieties‑‑ there are as many different kinds of temptation as there are human predicaments. When you are tempted to do something that you know is wrong, what do you do? How do you face the problem? There are two things that you can do. Naturally, you can go ahead and do what you really would like to do‑‑yield to the temptation‑‑but this causes some mental gyrations so that you can convince your conscience that it is all right. To yourself you say, "But then everyone else is doing it. Why should not I?" You can tell yourself that if God put that desire in your body then it should be gratified. You can say, "This time is all right, but I won't do it after this." You can put your mind on the present and try not to think of the consequences or you can convince yourself that you won't be caught. It really takes no strength to yield to temptation. It happens every day, but the second avenue to the problem of temptation is the one that leads in the opposite direction. Frankly, the path leading away from temptation is not a very broad one. It has a lot of growth that camouflages it and it seems that not too many people look for it; however, the person who wants to do what is right can find this path. Do not think for a moment that emotionally and biologically you are forced to do what is wrong. Here are some guidelines to help overcome temptation: Face today's temptation today‑‑not tomorrow. More people fall for that line, "This is the last time I'll do it," than any other excuse. Remember the chains of habit are often too weak to be felt until they are too strong to be broken. Always remember that someone else has faced your temptation and overcome it. You can, too, if you make up your mind to do so. It takes far more character to say "No!" than to go ahead and yield. This is the guideline that really counts. Ask God for His strength to overcome the temptation that confronts you. Perhaps, you are thinking, "Does God really care about my life?" Possibly, you have not discovered His love for you, or you have not learned that He is interested in your life. Listen to what Paul wrote to you: "No temptation has taken you but such as is common to men. But God is faithful who will not allow you to be tempted above that you are able to bear it" (1 Corinthians 10:13). Here God tells us that it is no sin to be tempted‑‑men have been tempted since the beginning of creation‑‑but God is faithful. He will also give you the strength and power to overcome that temptation and do what is right. When a person is tempted he feels pretty much by himself, but God plus you makes a majority. One last thought: Do right and you will never go wrong. Resource reading: James 1:13-18
Bible Text: James 4:17 | Speaker: Dr. Harold J. Sala | Series: Guidelines For Living So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin. James 4:17 How often have you heard the line, "He just couldn't say no!" or the feminine version of that, which is, "She knew better than that. That's not how she was raised!" What's the problem? Was it what the individual did, or the lack of discipline that brought confrontation with a situation which the person knew to be wrong? Often I will sit down with a couple whose marriage is failing, and a spouse will turn in anger on his or her mate and hurl the words, "Why did you do that?" And the feeble response is often, "I don't know. I just couldn't help myself!" Needed is discipline--or more specifically, self-discipline, the kind that has feet connected to a backbone which allows you to walk away from temptation, or the strength to hit the button on the TV controller, or click the mouse on your computer when you have strayed into areas which Paul called "secret and shameful" (2 Corinthians 4:2 NIV). My experience working with people leads me to conclude that most people who find themselves in moral quicksand are not blind to what they are doing. True, they aren't thinking through the consequences, but they simply don't have the self-discipline necessary to do an about-face and close the door on temptation. What are the consequences of self-indulgence as opposed to self-discipline? A broken home, shattered confidence-- a mate who no longer trusts you, your loss of self-respect, and perhaps God's hand of discipline. Insight: You are free to make whatever decisions and choices you please, but you cannot control the consequences of those choices. For those who are God's children, not only does life yield harsh discipline, but God does, as well. "Hey," you may say, "I thought God was a loving God." He is. That's exactly why He disciplines His children. Says the New Testament book of Hebrews: "And you have forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons: 'My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.’” (Hebrews 12:5,6). "Better to be pruned to grow," said John Trapp, "than cut up to burn." It's still true. Hitting the wall can be a good thing. Sometimes a swift "kick in the pants" is what you need to realize you need to change. God uses discipline to get your attention, to help you realize that continuing on the path you are on leads to disaster. Charles Spurgeon wrote, "I bear my willing witness that I owe more to the fire, and the hammer, and the file, than to anything else in the Lord's workshop" (Spurgeon as quoted by George Sweeting, Who Said That?, p. 163). Changing your attitude is the first step. It's what the Bible calls repentance. It's the deep-seated emotion that makes you realize you have been playing with fire, and it's time to change, and fast. The second step is changing your actions. It's important to realize that doing right brings with that decision God's help which you have lacked. No, God won't do it for you, but knowing that He's able to give you the resolve you lack, and His strength for your weakness, makes it much easier for you to do right--even when it is painful. "For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control (2 Timothy 1:7). Stop. Question: Who gives us power, love, and self-discipline? God does. Have you asked Him for this? Self-discipline not only closes the door on temptation, but also brings rich dividends spiritually. Remember, you can choose to do whatever you like, but with every choice come consequences--both negative and positive--which you neither choose nor can avoid. Resource reading: Hebrews 12:1-12