May I remind you of four of the more powerful perils that can level even the mightiest? They are fortune, fame, power, and pleasure. Each works overtime to win a hearing, to gain a foothold, to woo us in. Whether subliminal, subtle, strong, or supreme, these messages search for chinks in our armour as they appeal to our natural appetites. ‘Get rich!’ (fortune). ‘Become known!’ (fame). ‘Gain control!’ (power). ‘Be satisfied!’ (pleasure). Each of these attractive snares invites our attention, holds out a juicy carrot, makes beautiful promises; yet each is an enemy always crouching and ready to plunge. Being masters of deceit, these messages employ one favourite method throughout our lives—temptation.
Let me mention a very practical thing about temptation. I have found that if I can stop the process fairly early, I’m safe. But if I leave my hiding place and venture toward the bait, there is a point of no return. I cannot turn around. If I go that far, I’m sunk.
So how can we have victory over temptation? First, our natural focus must be counteracted. Openly confess your weakness. Hide nothing. Use Scripture memory to replace sensual thoughts with spiritual thoughts.
Second, our leisure time must be guarded. Cultivate a plan, perhaps an exercise program, an intensive reading program, a hobby, a series of practical projects to occupy your time. Watch out for those videos! If necessary, keep the television off. And stay away from the magazine rack.
Third, our close companions must be screened. Take a good look at your circle of friends. Do an honest evaluation of those with whom you spend personal time. I can offer you a principle you can bank on: Until you clean up your companionships, you’ll never clean up your life.
Fourth, our vow to God must be upheld. Just as jealously as we would guard the marriage vows, we’re to guard our promises to God and our commitment to purity.
Excellence—moral, ethical, personal excellence—is worth whatever it costs. Pay the price. Start today! Nothing less will ever satisfy you or glorify God.
Excerpted from Dear Graduate: Letters of Wisdom from Charles R. Swindoll, Copyright 2007 by Charles R. Swindoll Inc. (Thomas Nelson Publishers). All rights reserved worldwide. Used by permission.