When we think of temptation we may relate to the anecdote of satan, a physical presence in the form of a snake, tempting Eve to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the Garden of Eden. Eve is enticed and tempted by the captivating fruit that she desires, but in which God told her was forbidden.
I want to talk to you today about a not so obvious temptation; one that is hidden but its bite is as viscous as a snake’s. It’s very subtle, often times catching you off guard and causing you to act out of character.What I’m talking about is emotional temptation. It’s a type of temptation that the devil uses to break your peace. It is when he assigns demons, thru people, to harass and entice you to react negatively or cause you to lose control.
Satan knows your weaknesses. Most temptations are physical: lust, adultery, stealing, alcohol, drugs. e.t.c. But what I’m speaking about in this text are inward temptations: fear, doubt, anger, rage, vanity — to name a few. Temptation that deals with your emotions. Satan often sends his messengers through people to break your confidence, question your looks or abilities, aggravate you, get you flustered and frustrated; which causes you to deflect. By theory you’re a nice person but you have been so severely tormented and harassed by satan’s tempters, it causes you to forget who you are. It causes you to forget your inner beauty, good manners, compassion and dignity.
Some of you don’t even know who you are anymore. You’ve been hijacked by the devil! You used to be loving, kind, and gentle, but because of the circumstances of this life, you’ve turned inward: feeling victimized, feeling sorry for yourself, and letting bitterness take hold, in which you then give back to the world.
If you don’t know who you are the devil will steal your identity! Emotional temptation by the enemy causes you to momentarily be used by the devil by losing your temper, retaliating, and seeking vengeance. After the damage has been done the end result is embarrassment and degradation, then satan leaves just as quickly as he came and you’re left wondering what just happened. You were a pawn to do satan’s work. If you are not wise you will fall into his trap every time, causing destruction upon yourself. If this is your weakness you must be very mindful and prayerful regarding this area of your spiritual walk. Ask God to give you discernment and give you wisdom every time you’re provoked emotionally, not to let satan use you.
Beloved, we have to use common sense as well. If it doesn’t look right, sound right or true, if it doesn’t feel right, it’s sent from the enemy! Walk away! Or if you are in an environment where you can’t walk away, remain silent or try to ignore the offense. Resist the urge to respond, argue, fight. If God leads you to speak on the situation, do so tactfully and kindly then leave the rest to God. Resist the urge to retaliate or seek vengeance. Vengeance is the Lord’s.
Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. Romans 12:19
He will take care of the person. You may feel violated, taken advantage of or victimized. Resist the urge to defend yourself from emotional temptation, otherwise you’re walking into the fire. It will take disciplining and training yourself in order to not be provoked by condemning or confronting situations.
Through subjective life experiences, you have learned to respond to situations a certain way; whether good or bad. Pray that God breaks the bad habits. Further develop your good habits.
Signs you’re dealing with emotional temptation:
-Always angry, upset
-Holding a grudge
-Closed off from people
-Used to give freely now holding back
Ask God to remind you who you are, then ask Him to remind you of your first love: Him! If you don’t have a personal relationship with God ask Him to show you how to love like Him; if you do, ask God to help you fall in love with Him again, only then can you love people despite the devil working through them. We must be reminded how the Bible says we should love:
1 Corinthians 13:4-8 (NIV)
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.
Print this out! Hang it on your mirror, refrigerator, dresser. Get these verses into your spirit, Beloved. Live it, don’t just simply read it! Only then will you be able to look contempt in its face, walk away with peace in your heart and let God fight your battles.
O our God, will you not execute judgment on them? For we are powerless against this great horde that is coming against us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.
2 Chronicles 20:12
This was the cry of the people of Judah who soon learned that they would be attacked by an alliance of the Ammonites, Moabites, and Menuites. Jehoshaphat, King of Judah, out of great fear, sought the Lord for help and proclaimed a fast throughout all of Judah.Beloved, though this story happened in Biblical times, it still rings true to what the people of God are experiencing today.
Those spiritually attuned can sense a more diabolical presence of evil in these last days. Sometimes it may feel as if you are being smothered by spiritual attacks on all sides: in relationships, on the job, commuting, and even in your own home; like the land of Judah, in 2 Chronicles 20:1, when word went out that Judah was under attack by surrounding neighbors.
Sometimes the warfare can seem so intense that the first thing we do when we face an attack is reach out to a spouse, relative or friend first. And, most of the time you go away just as you came: still distressed, frazzled, and confused. Most people will listen but aren’t really qualified to help you. Why is God always our last resort? Because we want immediate answers. We want to be soothed and comforted in that moment. We want a word now! More, oftentimes in these situations God seems silent and we need immediate answers.
In 2 Chronicles 20:3, the Bible says the first thing Jehoshaphat did was SEEK THE LORD and proclaim a fast. How often do we forget simply to seek God first and not let emotions get the best of us. The second thing we do is seek spiritual guidance or desperately try to get answers from a person whom we may feel hears from the Lord. Saints if you are to ever grow spiritually and eat the solid food of Christianity as Paul says in Corinthians, you must learn to seek God’s face yourself. Wait to hear His voice, wait for His leading, wait until you get direction from Him before you move. Wait before consulting others. Many people put their faith in other people as opposed to God, or worst they put more faith in the problem than in God. More, you don’t trust God but you trust others’ fallible opinion. No, you must believe that you too can hear from God. That’s the only way you will mature in spiritual warfare. You must learn to fight your own battles. We must have faith in God and stand firm on His word as the people of Judah:
‘If disaster comes upon us, the sword, judgment, or pestilence, or famine, we will stand before this house and before you—for your name is in this house—and cry out to you in our affliction, and you will hear and save.’
2 Chronicles 20:9
Most of you are running around in panic and sheer terror regarding this evil trial that is facing you. You are stressing yourself out when God is simply telling you to give it to Him. This battle really is between evil and righteousness. Darkness and light. Demonic forces are sent out to try to frustrate God’s plans for your life. But what God has written in stone shall be fulfilled no matter what forces try to oppose it.
Thus says the LORD to you, ‘Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed at this great horde, for the battle is not yours but God’s.’
2 Chronicles 20:15
But here’s where you drop the ball. In the midst of the trial, what are you thinking? Are you thinking defeated thoughts? You are believing the enemy’s lies that you aren’t gonna get through this situation; to give up; there’s no hope. So you neglect to read your Bible, neglect to fast and hope the situation will just go away. You’ve given up on the inside. Therefore, you are already defeated. If you can just muster up a mustard seed of faith and open your mouth and believe. That’s all it takes, and proclaim the goodness and mercy of God over your situation and it WILL change! PRAISE HIM! Beloved, your worship determines your victory!
And when they began to sing and praise, the LORD set an ambush against the men of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir, who had come against Judah, so that they were routed.
2 Chronicles 20:22
Beloved, sometimes you just have to praise your way out of persecution, trials, attacks. God goes to war to the command of praise!
2 Timothy 1:6,7
The word of God teaches you how to fight. When you face trials and tribulation, you will either succumb to the attack or put on your God appointed armor and do battle! Caveat emptor: It requires discipline! Just face it now, if you’re born again and you choose the call of The Great Commission, you will face a life-long spiritual battle with the devil! The life of Christianity is not passive. It is not desperately sitting back waiting for the battle to be over, but contrarily picking up your spiritual weapons and fighting back until you have penetrated the enemy’s ground! So many Saints struggle in this area of their Christian walk. They endure a life of harassment, mental torment and persecution from the devil. Often settling for their health, joy and peace to be taken away from them. If you have a dogged determination and stand firmly on God’s promise, you can take back ground stolen from you, your family members and loved ones; precious lives the enemy has destroyed.
The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. (John 10:10)
Beloved, one must be spiritually prepared, and not blindly walk into encampments set up by the enemy to destroy you! What are those encampments? Your household, your job, your friendships, your business dealings, your finances, your health! Sometimes the attack is so vicious it may feel like you are stepping on land mines all around you! Satan works through people, including yourself! More, some battles you will lose! Others you may have to keep fighting a lifetime with the enemy not budging!
There was a beloved pastor’s wife whom I knew of. This beautiful, humble soul was stricken with cancer at an early age. It was reported that she had suffered 21 or so grueling surgeries! One can barley tolerate the thought of one let alone 21! Sadly to report, after many decades of prayer, the church interceding, and fighting the devil, the First Lady eventually lost her battle to cancer. Some things we will just have to endure that only God will know the answer to. But, we must not lose hope! It will take persistence, consistence, and diligence to keep fighting the good fight of faith! When severe pressure is upon us, hard as it may be, we must not cave in and quit or give up. Even when you feel like you can’t pray, God knows your thoughts before you even think them–keep your mind on Him! When you feel like you can’t read your Bible, turn on worship music and let the words minister to you! Remembering:
Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning. (Psalm 30:5 KJV) You cannot give up!
The “night” matures us spiritually, it makes us more Christ like. When you first gave your life to Christ, there may have been overwhelming joy and great anticipation of your new christian walk: you joined a church, attended new believer’s classes, and supplied Christian books to read. There was a general feeling of euphoria that you were finally on the right path in life. You felt God’s touch on your life and some, God may have delivered out of deep bondage. But along the way, you began to face situations that challenged your faith, situations that tested your will, situations that you couldn’t find the answers to in a self-help book! My friend, you may have experienced devastating, life altering situations that resigned you to that of a fetal position, on the floor weeping like a baby, the pain hurt so badly! Beloved, this may have been your night, BUT! The Bible says that if you will just trust in Him with ALL your heart and ALL your mind (Proverbs 3:5), your joy will come in the morning! Amen!
I find that there are different stages of our christian walk. After conversion, you first learn how to pray, how to maneuver the Bible, and what it means to live a God called life. Secondly, God then begins to show you what your calling is in Him. Along with that calling, rest assured, will come an assigned fleet of demons whose job it is to do everything in their power to disprove the anointing on your life! The next phase will be a phase of the testing of your will and your faith. Indeed, the hardest stage for the called in Christ! In this stage you will experience extreme torment from the devil, even though you may be doing all the spiritual work! For those that may be saying this is not my testimony, this message is not for you!–but those on the front line of spiritual warfare, those that are experiencing extreme harassment from the devil because of your anointed call in Christ! The devil vehemently hates it when another pastor is birthed, another church is planted, and when another sinner gives his soul to Christ!
You will go through periods when God’s voice will seem reticent, or you may question: ‘God where are you?’ It will seem as if all hell has broken loose in every area of your life! You will be persecuted on every side, and may feel as Paul did on his Christian journey:
For even when we came into Macedonia, our bodies had no rest, but we were afflicted at every turn—fighting without and fear within. (2 Corinthians 7:5)
It may seem as if you are screaming out to God with all your might and yet your voice is inaudible. You may even become angry at God in His silence. It’s a time of testing, tearing down, building up, and strengthening you. It will cause you to go deeper in the work of Christ; deeper in study, deeper in spiritual preparation, deeper in prayer, deeper in fasting. His silence is teaching you how to adamantly trust the word of God and not your feelings! No matter how dark the valley is, He’s teaching you to fear not the evil one, He’s teaching you that, although you cannot see Him, or feel His presence, He’s fighting right beside you! It’s like the parable of the footsteps in the sand. Some things you will look back on and wonder in amazement, how you made it through! Amen! It’s because God carried you! We were wounded and ready to be slaughtered, yet a loving Savior picked us up where our strength failed, and carried us the rest of the way! Selah!
The longer it takes us to completely trust and have faith in God, I believe the longer our spiritual growth will be stunted in our Christian walk. Christianity requires proactively growing in Christ. There will be trial and error in our growth yes, but to grow in Him with a purpose and a plan, that requires diligent study, prayer, and a concerted effort to make time with God daily. Beloved there is something to be said about spending time in God’s presence! The anointing comes down! There is a sweet peace. God will give you wisdom, knowledge, and signs and wonders. He will give you secrets, direction, and ideas your mind could never possibly conceive on its own.
And by the hands of the apostles were many signs and wonders wrought among the people; (and they were all with one accord in Solomon’s porch. (Acts 5:12 KJV)
In the latter part of the Christian walk, you may enter into a place of supernatural discernment. You will have Godly wisdom and a deeper understanding of spirituality! Those called began to teach, edify, encourage, prophesy (1 Corinthians 12:4-12). There will still be testing, but it will not destroy you like it used to! You’ll know the exact spiritual tools to apply against your enemy and come out a victor! Amen! You will have a concrete belief in God; no trick, lie, or scheme from the devil will be able to dissuade you. You know it’s a war between good and evil, and you will distinctively know your place in the battle. You know that silence does not mean neglect. You know that you and God are in this together!
Lastly, the valley experience changes your attitude! You may have walked with Christ for years but still have a defeated attitude! Instead of thinking you are a victor, and knowing that you are already equipped to win the fight raged against you ( Luke 10:19), you are numb because of persecution, and are thinking defeated thoughts.
To live a victorious life in Christ, there has to be a turning over of mental thinking to the side of victory. Your spiritual language has to change. You have to learn to always speak positive words over your life and circumstances no matter what your physical eyes may be telling you. You have to learn how to see with our spiritual eyes–the eyes of faith!
Additionally, your mind set has to change. A lot of people may quote the verse, say the Christian slogans but deep down inside, perhaps because of continuous oppression, have not come to a place where they believe what they are even saying! If you have a certain call on your life the opposition can be so intense, that you have given up on the inside! You’re spiritually dead! You have been sowing, but sadly feel like you are not reaping. It’s a testing beyond your imagination! With all your might and knowledge about God, you’ve got to take God at His word, getting in your spirit man the living word!
For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12 KJV)
People often talk about the character of God. That is a culmination of His teachings, His anointing on the lives of the Biblical prophets, and His grace. The devil tries to undermine God and His work in your life. Fight hard with all that is within you to not believe him! There is an evil, vile, more diabolical level of spiritual warfare in this day and time. Satan’s kingdom has become more perverted, more wicked. Its mission is not the ungodly–he already has them under his control–but specifically to attack the saints of God! The death in the valley is so gruesome beloved, let us not forget the saints that are literally fighting a physical battle with the devil; having been permanently scarred, maimed, and tormented. Those who have lost their lives for the sake of the Gospel! As we continue to carry the weight of our cross–with blood, sweat and tears–let us remember: the battle is not between us and the devil, but between God and satan!
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. (Psalm 23:4)
Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. And the tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” But he answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.'” (Matthew 4:1-4 ESV)
Every approaching year as we ponder over our lives, in retrospect, we compile a list; whether mental or a physical list, of things we may have failed at, things we would like to do better, or perhaps accomplishments we would like to achieve. Off we go–full steam ahead–making plans, buying “self-help” books, joining gyms, taking classes and the like. The new year always brings anticipation and encouragement! It gets the ball rolling under our feet and gives us a sense of accomplishment to plot our course. Looking back over our shoulders, we may find ourselves not having accomplished nearly all that we had set out to. I have found myself at this place many a times. The problem is we set out to tackle goals–head on–with self-regulation. The Bible talks a great deal about the flesh. It emphasizes that the flesh is weak and fickle.
For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. (Romans 7:18 ESV)
No wonder we can’t get anything done! That is until I learned a valuable spiritual secret: fasting!
One day while at a drug store, while miserably on a fast might I add, I ran across a book, “Fasting Journal: Your personal 21-day guide to a successful fast,” by Jentezen Franklin.
God really does have perfect timing and a sense of humor! In the book, Franklin talks about how his church goes on a 21-day Daniel Fast at the beginning of each year. For those of you who may not be familiar with the Daniel Fast, it is taken from the book of Daniel in the Bible, when the prophet Daniel was exiled from Judah by order of Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar to reside in the king’s palace. The king ordered what food was to be eaten by the exiles, but Daniel refused to defile himself by eating the King’s royal food, instead petitioning the steward in charge of him that he and three fellow servants would be as strong as the other youths eating only vegetables. (Daniel 1:1-16, 10:2,3)
The principle of the Daniel Fast of course is to eat mostly vegetables, however different churches have different variations of the fast. For those of you that may be wondering what you can and cannot eat on the Daniel Fast, a quick Google search should give you tons of information.
Moreover, as I read along in the book, I began to get more and more encouraged reading the testimonies of the pastor’s congregation after having completed the fast. One anecdote being that of an older gentleman who had lost his dentures one night while sleeping. The man awoke that morning and his teeth were gone, disappeared, no where to be found! This greatly puzzled the man as he had the dentures in when he went to bed. Fast forward years later after the completion of a Daniel Fast. The man developed a nagging cough. So much so, he did finally find his dentures–IN HIS STOMACH! (If I remember the story correctly, I think he coughed them up!) He had swallowed them while sleeping! I kid you not! This book is an excellent read for those that would like to know how to start fasting or may need encouragement while on a long fast.
I started incorporating the yearly Daniel Fast in my life! Beloved, it is one of the hardest, but most spiritually rewarding things I could have ever done! Through fasting I have broken several strong holds over my life, experienced deep levels of peace, and have a closer, more intimate relationship with God. Below I have outlined some of the many blessings that accompany fasting.
1. Spiritual attacks.
“Is not this the fast that I choose:
to loose the bonds of wickedness,
to undo the straps of the yoke,
to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? (Isaiah 58:6 ESV)
If you feel you are under a heavy burden, or experiencing high levels of stress in your life, consider a fast! Sometimes our spirit can feel so heavy and our mind greatly perplexed, that we can’t even pray! Fasting helps quiet the soul and allows you to hear God’s voice more clearly. While on a fast, you will know when you get a breakthrough because you will experience an overwhelming sense of peace and contentment. Most times it happens during a fast, but there have been times when I did not feel that peace until after the fast was over. Your problem and worry will just fall off. The thing that bothered you will no longer have such great impact!
If you are greatly tempted in an area of your life, along with prayer, fast! You will not only be feeding your spiritual body, but starving your physical body of its cravings, habits, and desires. Many people who attempt to challenge temptation on their own effort fail miserably. Sadly, they think it is willpower. “You can do anything you put your mind to,” is the mantra so many proclaim. Yet, sadly many young men and women are battling, and some succumb, to debilitating addictions. Beloved, can I tell you it’s a battle of the spirit and not of the flesh! Unless you began to attack the addiction from a spiritual standpoint, you will never win!
And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. (Galatians 5:24, 25 ESV)
We crucify the flesh with fasting. Therefore, choosing to walk by the spirit, which helps us not to give in to what the flesh wants, we allow the Holy Spirit to fight the battle of temptation on our behalf.
3. Decision making.
Whenever you have a big decision to make i.e buying a house, car, or contemplating a business venture, considering marriage, moving, a job, or whatever may be of importance to you, it is imperative that you fast before a commitment is made! Oftentimes, you may feel you are certain about a decision until the next day your mind has changed, you then go back and forth in your thoughts until you have worked up a headache! There are three voices speaking to us at any given time: ours, satan’s, and God’s. Fasting is the eliminator! It allows you to hear God’s voice more clearly or better heed His will and direction for your life. Many times through fasting, God has told me not to go or move in a certain direction that I thought I wanted to move in, and later allowed me to see the traps that were set before me.
4. Weight loss issues.
Albeit spiritual fasting is not for weight loss, but as servants of Christ we must address issues of the body of Christ. Many women struggle with their weight, and some have become greatly despondent and depressed because maybe they had children, have full-time jobs, an illness etc., and have put on weight over the years. Countless women and men fail at their weight loss goals because they are trying to achieve success in their own strength. Year after year, many join gyms, try fad diets, and put their hope and faith in a fat burner pill, only to find the few pounds they may have lost is regained plus more! Firstly, pray and ask God to help you with your weight loss goals. Then try diligently to incorporate fasting into your lifestyle. When you first start fasting, it will begin to train the body to eat less. If you can start disciplining the body to fast on a regular basis, you will find that it becomes easier as time goes by. The more you fast, the more pounds you will shed. Fasting is the quickest, healthiest form of weight loss if done properly. Moreover, fasting shrinks the stomach! Overtime, you will find that you are not able to eat as much food as you used to after a fast, which can greatly enhance your weight-loss efforts. So before you resolute to lose weight this year, how about considering a fast and asking God for His guidance? You’ll not only strengthen your body, but also your soul.