By Alisha Plummer, Crosswalk.com
Road construction is evil. No one can get where they are going in time for anything. Invariably, the orange barrels are blocking off a lane where no work is being done, and the guy holding the STOP/SLOW sign is thinking about penguins in Antarctica. Therefore, when possible, most of us avoid these areas, like the plague. Even if it means taking a longer or more circuitous route, it will still be better than becoming gridlocked in a construction zone.
Temptation in life is like road construction in cars. It is better avoided completely than wading through at risk of life, limb, and sanity. So break out your map or app, and let’s look for ways to avoid temptation.
1. Don’t Get a Ticket – Police Your Thoughts
If you haven’t gotten a ticket in a construction zone, it is the grace of God because it seems likely that all of us have desired to do something in a construction area that would warrant a ticket.
James tells us that is how sin starts. First is the desire. We lust after that pleasure, person, or experience until our desire overcomes us. Then, when we begin to scheme how we can get what we want, sin is born. And when sin is fully grown, it leads to death.
The logical place to cut off this progression is at the beginning with our thoughts. Controlling our thoughts is a moment-by-moment battle. Our human tendency is to form unhealthy patterns in the way that we think. Places that we retreat to enjoy and comfort ourselves – often by soothing ourselves with lies and playing with temptation.
To avoid this, those habits must be torn out of our minds and replaced with godly thoughts. This can be done, but it is not simple. It involves memorizing God’s Word so it is constantly available to substitute for wrong thoughts. It involves an honest prayer life that invites God to correct, instruct, and discipline. And it involves surrounding ourselves as much as possible with music, entertainment, and relationships that glorify God rather than sex, violence, or pleasure.
“Let...the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer.” – Psalm 19:14
2. Find Others Who Are Following Jesus, Not the Crowd
By and large, the general public appears happy to sit in traffic created by construction projects. By and large, the general public appears happy to be buzzed and/or high, juggling three significant others and gambling their money at the craps tables. Sin does have an upside, be it small. And if the fun of sin is what our friends, especially our close friends, are constantly parading in front of us, we are allowing temptation to be a consistent part of our lives.
But God assures us that sin has a steep downside, and if our friends remind us of the cost of sin, they provide us a measure of protection against temptation. As we pick out close friends who are walking with Jesus rather than with the crowd, we are able to build each other up and affirm each other’s wise decisions.
“He who walks with wise men will be wise.” – Proverbs 13:20a
3. Use Temptation Roadblocks
Roadblocks are invasive. They are so frustrating, particularly if there seems to be no reason for them. But it is worth it because wet concrete looks almost the same as dry concrete. Similarly, it can be inconvenient to purposefully put roadblocks in our paths to avoid temptation. But when our goal is to glorify Christ, it is completely worth it because sin looks safe until it doesn’t.
Different people need different roadblocks to protect them from temptation but:
Most of us would be wise to install and use filters on our devices and avoid spending time alone with members of the opposite sex.
Many of us would benefit from having an accountability app on those same devices or telling someone else your goals in a particular area and having them hold you to it.
Some of us should purposefully refrain from driving by the adult entertainment establishment, the casino, or the bar.
Others should plan to have someone else review our monthly credit card statements and explain our stewardship.
Setting our phones to allow only a certain number of hours of screen time may help a significant number of us pursue what is truly important in life.
For those of us dating, not spending time alone in our cars or at each other’s homes may keep us from running into wet concrete. And it is much easier to avoid the wet concrete than it is to get out once the car is in past its axles.
“A prudent man foresees evil and hides himself, but the simple pass on and are punished.” – Proverbs 22:3
4. Practice Running
There is essentially nothing more envy provoking than an emergency vehicle in a construction zone. They get lights and sirens. They get to go fast. And all the un-special cars grind to a halt and get out of the way.
When it comes to temptation, we get to be emergency vehicles. So refuse to get hung up on what you are missing or what the other cars might think. It’s time to turn on those lights and sirens and run. Running takes practice, and it starts in little ways.
Reading a book with a steamy chapter, coarse language, or godless morals? Close it. Dispose of it. Watching a movie that suddenly devolves into a nude scene or a gory mess? Close your eyes. Walk out. Everyone at work is going out for drinks? “I can’t go out for drinks with you guys. Why don’t we go to the grill instead?” Your date puts their hand somewhere that makes you feel too warm. Get up and walk away.
Your family wants to go out to a buffet – but you tend to overeat. Offer to watch the youngest kids at home.
Running practice is no fun until you win the prize.
“No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear.” – 1 Corinthians 10:13
5. I Got a Ticket – Now What?
Getting a ticket in a construction zone is the worst because everyone can see into your car as they creep past. But once you’ve been pulled over, there is nothing to do but slouch in your seat and wait for the police officer to hand you a ticket that costs more than your car.
But spiritually, when we sin, there is much more for us to do than simply slouch and wait. And there is much more we should do.
First, we talk with God and tell Him exactly what we did. We agree with Him that it is wrong and our actions dishonored our Savior and hurt others.
Second, we accept God’s forgiveness. There is no sin that Christ’s sacrifice was not enough to cover, and there is no sin that His grace is sufficient enough to redeem.
Third, we ask God to lift us up and show us how to try again. Our Lord is not surprised when we fall and is right there with us.
Fourth, we go back, ask forgiveness, and make things right with those we wronged.
No one said it would be easy. But we can rest assured that we were not saved to continue being slaves of sin. We were rescued from this power to become servants of the Most High God Who has promised us victory.
“But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered. And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.” – Romans 6:17-18
Learn more about Alisha's newest book, Confessions of a Christian Spinster:
Being single in today's church often feels like a waiting game. You're put on hold in ministry, service, even spiritual growth until you say "I do," and you're either pitied or not seen at all. Unlike today's church, God is not mystified by the presence of unmarried Christ-followers in the pews. In fact, he has masterful plans for those without a ring on their finger. Alisha Plummer points out how God is eager to empower them with purpose and passion.
In Confessions of a Christian Spinster, Alisha explores God's design specifically for Christian singlehood through amusing tales and scripturally based truths. She tackles the difficult questions the church often ignores, like: Where do I fit in? Does the church even want me? Has God forgotten about me? What happens if I never get married? Further, she confronts the church, calling for an adjustment to its couple-centric culture, and asking Christians to understand that their single brothers and sisters are not only valued by God but integral to his kingdom.
Singles will feel seen through Alisha's words; they'll be encouraged to seize their role in the church and inspire their pastoral staff to reinvent their culture on singleness. is a powerful resource for those seeking to live and thrive in a perplexed church--and a way forward for the church itself.
Photo credit: ©Kregel Publications/AlishaPlummer
Alisha Plummer is the author of the new book Confessions of a Christian Spinster, as well as an emergency department physician assistant and writer in Rio Rancho, New Mexico. A self-described "perpetual Christian single," she is also a church leader in women's and children's ministries. While this is her first book, Alisha writes for multiple periodical and online publications and regularly blogs at her devotional site, pandorasporch.com.
The views and opinions expressed in this podcast are those of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of Salem Web Network and Salem Media Group.
You can read Rhonda's full article here.