How Can I Resist Temptation?
Karen is at the party for no more than ten minutes when she sees two boys arrive carrying several large paper bags. What’s in those bags is no mystery. Earlier, she had overheard the same boys saying that there would be “lots of booze” at this party.
Suddenly, Karen hears a familiar voice behind her. “What are you just standing there for, Miss Boring?” Karen turns to see her friend Jessica clutching two freshly opened bottles of beer. Jessica holds one right in front of Karen’s face and says, “Now don’t tell me you’re too young to have a little fun!”
Karen wants to refuse. But the pressure to accept is more powerful than she expected. Jessica is her friend, and Karen doesn’t want to come across as . . . “Miss Boring,” as Jessica called her. Besides, Jessica’s one of the good girls. And if she’s drinking, then what’s the big deal? ‘It’s just a beer,’ Karen tells herself. ‘It’s not like taking drugs or having sex.’
WHEN you’re young, temptation comes in many forms. Often, it involves the opposite sex. “The girls at school are aggressive,” says 17-year-old Ramon. “They like to touch you and to see how far they can go with you. They won’t take no for an answer!” Deanna, also 17, found the same thing to be true. “One boy came up to me and put his arm around me,” she says. “I punched him in his arm and said: ‘What are you doing? I don’t even know you!’”
You too may face temptations, and it might seem as if the pressure just won’t let up. Continuous temptation can be like repeated knocking on your door in spite of the “Do Not Disturb” sign. Do you hear that knock more often than you’d like? For example, do any of the following tempt you?
□ Looking at pornography
□ Drinking alcohol
□ Engaging in sex
□ Taking drugs
□ Other ․․․․․
If you put a ✔ next to any of the above, don’t conclude that you’re just not cut out to be a Christian. You can learn to control wrong desires and to resist temptation. How? It helps to recognize what’s behind temptation. Consider three factors.
1. Imperfection. The inclination to do wrong is common to all imperfect humans. Even the apostle Paul—a mature Christian—candidly admitted: “When I wish to do what is right, what is bad is present with me.” (Romans 7:21) Clearly, even the most upright person will occasionally become aware of “the desire of the flesh and the desire of the eyes.” (1 John 2:16) But dwelling on enticements to do wrong only makes matters worse, for the Bible says: “Desire, when it has become fertile, gives birth to sin.”—James 1:15.
2. External influences. Temptation is everywhere you look. “At school and at work, people talk about sex all the time,” says Trudy. “On TV and in movies, it’s always made to seem so glamorous, so exciting. You rarely see the negative consequences!” Trudy knows from experience how powerful the influence of peers and the media can be. “I thought I was in love at 16,” she recalls. “My mother sat down with me and told me that if things kept going the way they were, I would end up pregnant. I was horrified that my mom would think such a thing! Two months later, I was pregnant.”
3. “The desires incidental to youth.” (2 Timothy 2:22) That phrase can include any desire that is typical of young people, such as the craving for acceptance or the yearning to forge your own identity. Those desires aren’t wrong in themselves, but if left unchecked, they can make temptation harder to resist. For example, the longing for your own identity could drive you to turn against the good values you’ve been taught at home. That’s what happened to Steve when he was 17. He says, “I rebelled against my parents and did anything and everything they had taught me not to do—all this shortly after being baptized.”
How to Resist
Admittedly, the forces described above are powerful. Nevertheless, you can resist temptation. How?
● First, identify the temptation that exerts the strongest pull on you. (You may already have done this on page 65.)
● Next, ask yourself, ‘When is this temptation most likely to occur?’ Put a ✔ next to one of the following:
□ While at school
□ When alone
□ While at work
□ Other ․․․․․
Knowing when temptation is likely to occur might even help you to avoid it altogether. For example, consider the scenario at the beginning of this chapter. What warning did Karen have that there would be trouble at the gathering she attended?
How could she have avoided the temptation in the first place?
● Now that you’ve identified the temptation and determined when it is likely to occur, you’re ready to take action. Your first priority is to figure out how to minimize or eliminate contact with the temptation. Write below what you could do.
(Examples: If after school you regularly encounter schoolmates who urge you to smoke with them, perhaps you could alter your route to avoid crossing their path. If you often receive unsolicited Internet pornography, you might consider installing programs to block the source and all similar sites. Also, you could be more specific when selecting the key words you enter in a search engine.)
Of course, you can’t avoid all temptations. Sooner or later, you will probably be confronted with a particularly powerful enticement—perhaps when you least expect it. What can you do about that?
When Jesus was “being tempted by Satan,” his rebuff was immediate. (Mark 1:13) Why? Because he already knew where he stood on the issues that arose. Jesus had already resolved to obey his Father at all times. (John 8:28, 29) He really meant it when he said: “I have come down from heaven to do, not my will, but the will of him that sent me.”—John 6:38.
On the next page, write two reasons why you should resist the temptation you most often face and two actions you could take that would help you to resist that temptation.
Why you should resist:
Actions that will help you to resist:
Remember, when you give in to temptation, you become a slave to your desires. (Titus 3:3) Why allow yourself to be controlled by your cravings? Have the maturity to control your urges rather than allow your urges to control you. (Colossians 3:5) And make it a matter of prayer that you continue to do so.—Matthew 6:13.*
READ MORE ABOUT THIS TOPIC IN VOLUME 2, CHAPTER 15
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“God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear, but along with the temptation he will also make the way out in order for you to be able to endure it.”—1 Corinthians 10:13.
Use the “Peer-Pressure Planner,” found on pages 132 and 133 of Questions Young People Ask—Answers That Work, Volume 2, to plan responses you can use when someone tries to tempt you into wrongdoing.
DID YOU KNOW . . . ?
God foretold that Jesus would prove faithful, but that doesn’t mean that Jesus was like a robot, programmed to obey. Rather, Jesus was a free moral agent. His faithfulness was a choice—not a foregone conclusion. That is one reason why he prayed intensely when under trial.—Hebrews 5:7.
To build up my determination to resist temptation, I will ․․․․․
Some people, places, and circumstances I need to avoid include ․․․․․
What I would like to ask my parent(s) about this subject is ․․․․․
WHAT DO YOU THINK?
[Blurb on page 68]
“What helps me is knowing that I have the most powerful Being in the universe on my side and that I can ask for his help at any time!”—Christopher
[Box/Picture on page 67]
Take a compass, and position it so that the needle points north. Now place a magnet at the side of the compass. What happens? The needle no longer gives an accurate reading. Instead, it is turned toward the magnet.
Your conscience is like that compass. If properly trained, it will point “north” and help you to make wise decisions. But harmful association, like a magnet, exerts a pull that can distort your moral judgment. The lesson? Try to avoid people and situations that may throw your moral sense off course!—Proverbs 13:20.
[Picture on page 69]
When you give in to temptation, you become a slave to your desires