God has given us (me) freedom and with freedom comes weakness, and we all have weaknesses. James states: "every person is tempted when he is drawn away, enticed and baited by his own evil desire (lust, passions). Then the evil desire, when it has conceived, gives birth to sin, and sin, when it is fully matured, brings forth death (vv14-15 AMP). Satan uses these weaknesses as his tools to draw your attention away from God and his everlasting goodness. How can we stay focused and become masters of our weaknesses? Here are three tips I have recently learned.
The first step in mastering weakness (temptations, addictions, trials, strongholds) is identifying them. Everybody has weaknesses within their Christian life, so do not be ashamed of acknowledging them, to yourself, to others and especially to God. By confessing to God, you give authority to Him to help you.
Paul the Apostle said: Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, "My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness." So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That's why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong (2 Cor 12:8-10 NLT).
Do not be deceived by pride in hiding your weaknesses and in not asking for help. Satan wants you to be quiet and to continue to loose your battle that can only be won with Christ. When you unashamedly admit your weakness you are taking power away from Satan and handing it to God.
The second step is to stay clear, wherever possible, of situations that put you face to face with your weakness. For instance, if your weakness is alcohol, stay clear of pubs (and some parties), if your weakness if pornography, stay clear of private computer time or guard your computer, if your weakness if gossiping, stay clear of other gossips.
By staying clear of known situations in your life that will undoubtedly send a rock crashing through the windows of your weakness, you allow yourself to focus instead of God's intentions, strength and goodness. Do not purposely place yourself in a position that could shift your focus away from God because you Satan will continue to blind you of the destruction that is coming.
Accountability is also a great way of staying clear of situations. True friends will show you they care for you by speaking truth to you. If your weakness is gambling, your friends would do all they could to make sure you do not take your next trip to Crown Casino. As Jesus says: "Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to stumble! Such things must come, but woe to the person through whom they come! (Mt 18:7 NIV).
Your (my) good, caring friends will not lead you into temptation but will do all they can to help you to grow stronger in your self control and strength. Knowing the week ahead makes it easier to stay clear of your struggles, but what about when your situation comes from nowhere and all of a sudden you are face to face with your weakness?
When a situation arises that you could not have foreseen coming, what do you do? "Just run away." Just as Paul says to Timothy, "But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. (1 Tim 6:11 NIV).
You need to remove yourself from these situations as quickly as possible, especially if you do not have unbreakable self control (that sounds like me folks!). That does not mean you run, screaming, arms flailing, crowd parting away, but you simply remove yourself until you have regained your composure (anger, stress etc) or keep walking away altogether.
Do not compromise your faith in God by giving into the weakness. Do not be fooled into the thinking, well you've gotten this far you might as well keep going. That is a tactic straight from the pit of Satan's domain. Satan knows your weaknesses and he will do all he can for you to grab onto those instead of unto the unfailing hope and love of Jesus Christ. So instead of giving up, run away, straight into the arms of God.
Be assured there are things you and I can do to start on the road of overcoming our weaknesses. God loves you and me, He loves to see you and I are happy. He does allow us to be tempted, so that we may grow in our faith, our strength, our resolve and our self control. He will not allow you to be tempted beyond your limits and He will "always" give you a way out, but you need to make that choice.
We all have weaknesses so do not think you need to hide yours. We can intentionally make sure we do not stumble into situations that would make us fall. And if we end up in a situation where we can reach out and touch our weakness, we can simply run away.
This is confirmed by Paul, "The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure (1 Cor 10:13 NLT). We may not be perfect, but we can seek His help in striving to live for it in Christ, with Christ.
Tim McDonald lives and works in Mackay Queensland with a family of four children and is the drummer in his church's youthful band.