But every person is tempted when he is drawn away, enticed and baited by his own evil desire (lust, passions). (James 1:14 – Amplified)
The most dangerous person in my life is me! Self deception hinders more people in God than perhaps any other one thing. We all must ruthlessly deal with ourselves, honestly admitting our areas of weakness to the Lord, to ourselves, and if necessary, to another trusted friend.
The verse above is written to believers. Every believer has a built in Achilles heel, a place of weakness in your flesh. Notice that every believer is tempted when he or she is drawn away by his own evil desire. What is this? This refers to what you allowed in your life before Christ. And it may be different for each person.
The seeds of the sins of the flesh committed before Jesus came into your life are still in the recesses of your soul. They lay there latent, dormant, waiting for you to feed them. They are fed by giving them attention in your thought life. You allowed your mind, emotions, will, and flesh to do certain things before Christ that, if you do them now may break your fellowship with the Father. This is your personal strong desire mentioned in the above verse. And these things must be guarded against for the rest of your life. It may be anger, a tendency towards holding a grudge, fears of any sort, gossip, jealousy, envy, self-centeredness, or any of the sins of the flesh like adultery, fornication, or lust. It may overeating, drug or alcohol use.
The key is to know yourself and be aware of what tempts you. Here are three keys to keep you free from your past. The first one is to maintain a close, regular, and daily intimate fellowship with the Father in the Word and in prayer. Our spiritual life should be the energy center of life. And the spiritual resources of sincere prayer and quality time in the Word give us a tune up spiritually and help keep our flesh under. If you don’t keep your spirit well fed, your flesh will rise.
Secondly, watch your close friendships carefully. 1 Corinthians 15:33 – Amplified reads: Do not be so deceived and misled! Evil companionships (communion, associations) corrupt and deprave good manners and morals and character. Close association and friendship with those who have no spiritual values will dampen your spiritual life and lessen your spiritual fervor. Their values and ideals will rub off on you. I am friendly with unbelievers and with believers who are carnal and refuse to discipline their flesh. But I refuse to “hang out” with them in a close way. It wouldn’t work anyway, because I would challenge the wrong behavior! At some point, you either make a decision to step away from those who compromise or you may become like them.
Lastly, draw the line of demarcation in your life. That is, refuse to go places or do things that will stir up past sins in your life. Don’t hang around the person that gossips if that was a previous problem. Don’t look at the risqué movie or TV program; it will only entice the lust problem you had before. Don’t hang out with those who are casual drinkers if that was in your past. Apply this rule to whatever you were involved in pre-Christ!
Daily fellowship with the Father, godly associations, and drawing the line of demarcation in your life will help shield you from falling into previous patterns of living! Above all, when temptations come, run to Jesus immediately. Tell Him what you think and feel, and ask for His help to overcome. Confide in a close, trusted friend to keep you accountable. We’re all tempted, but thank God, we don’t have to yield!