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When You Don’t Want to Resist Temptation

What do you do when you know your unwanted sexual behavior is wrong but it feels so right? When you know where it leads but that just doesn’t seem to matter right now? When you know God has better for you but whatever that is feels unavailable or insignificant in the moment?

To me, I remember feeling like a man in the ocean getting pulled under by a powerful current. Except it didn’t feel dangerous, but more like being pulled by a tractor beam toward something blissfully wonderful and otherworldly.

The reality is that I both wanted to love God and something inside me wanted to sin. That’s true for all of us sometimes. Paul put it this way: “For I do not understand what I am doing; for I am not practicing what I want to do, but I do the very thing I hate” (Romans 7:15).

One thing that helped me tremendously was when I began learning God knows my predicament. It’s not just because of my sinful actions that Jesus came to rescue me. He also came to rescue me from that tenacious internal instinct of wanting to sin more than wanting God.

This is good and hopeful news! It means instead of scolding us for not loving Him enough to obey, He wants to help us. Instead of pulling away from until we do better, He is willing to draw near to us right here, in that place we need Him most.

If you’re finding yourself repeatedly turning to sin instead of to God, and struggling to want to do differently, these ideas may help:

1. Instead of shaming yourself for the inner conflict you feel, recognize that the conflict is evidence that the Holy Spirit is stirring within you. Think about it: If you were completely and utterly opposed to God, you wouldn’t be conflicted, right? In the same passage I referenced above, Paul goes on to write, “If I do the very thing I do not want to do, [it means] I agree with [God’s] Law, that the Law is good” (Romans 7:16). A moment later, he adds that this also means it wasn’t him but the sin that dwells in him that did!

2. Remember that God’s power is for you even while you still feel you want to sin. Don’t buy the lie that your desire for sin means God is absent. Remember Peter walking on the water? The winds and waves were going crazy around him but they weren’t a sign Jesus wasn’t there, even though they made it hard for Peter to believe. So even if your willpower feels utterly insignificant compared to the powerful tidal waves of temptation swirling around you, give God your “yes,” tiny though it may be. He’ll hear it even through the howling storm.

3. He knows everything about you and loves you even so. This means you can be honest with Him about what’s going on in you, including when you feel conflicted about wanting or His help. You might pray, “Father, I find in myself that I don’t want to talk with you right now. Please help me,” or “Jesus, I notice I want this sin more than I want You. Can you help me?” Or “Holy Spirit, I don’t want your help. So help!”

These can be prayers of great faith.

Friends, Jesus told us He came not for the healthy but for the sick, not for the righteous but for the unrighteous. If you find sick or rebellious attitudes in you, that’s where He wants to be.

I’d love to hear from you. Leave a question or comment below about what helps you in that moment of choice.

With hope,
Josh

15 thoughts on “When You Don’t Want to Resist Temptation”

  1. Josh, what a blessing this post has been to me. Thanks for continually redirecting us when we wander from the path back to Jesus who will hold our hand and help us find our way.

  2. Wow! What a great insightful article with practice advice. I’m 54 years old and just learning these truths this year in recovery. I have found asking for help and inviting God into my triggers and temptation has been revolutionary for me. Thanks you for this article. I just shared it with my accountability group.

  3. Thanks Josh.As Psalms 139 Says, You have searched me and know me! The more I know my Father in heaven the more open I am to him.What a relief.To let go of the sanitized version of my life to a life I can be real.Like Adam and Eve.Naked. Great topic again Josh.God bless you brother!

  4. Great topic Josh! The more intimately I know God, the more open I’ve become.It’s truly freeing. It’s certainly been a long journey but we’ll worth it.Thanks again brother..Psalms139..

  5. Thanks so much Josh. I’ve been on this journey a really long time and the waves come and go. And right now, the waves feel pretty high and strong. Thanks for this reminder. Especially the truth “that the Holy Spirit is stirring within me.” So easy to forget. You’re doing a great work man. Please know that.

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