The Overcoming Believer's Life

    John 16:33, "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have
    overcome the world."

Dear reader, God wants you to live an overcoming life!  Please read the following lesson with faith, not in yourself, but in God.
The Believer's life
is an overcoming life.
Even though we will definitely have problems and personal struggles in this life, we will be able to overcome because of
Jesus. Because of Him, we have victory over the world, including sinful habits, bitterness, loneliness, guilt, fear, and discouragement.

This "Daily Maintenance" is
essential for all believers, not just beginners in hopes of becoming a new creature fashioned by the Holy Spirit.  
The proof is in what John was told to tell the church of Ephesus:  

    "I know your works, your labor, your patience, and that you cannot bear those who are evil. And you have tested those who say they are
    apostles and are not, and have found them liars; and you have persevered and have patience, and have labored for My name's sake and
    have not become weary. Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Remember therefore from where you
    have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place unless you
    repent. But this you have, that you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit
    says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God.''  
    NKJ Revelation 2:2-7

The Nicolaitans were the early Gentile syncretists, who felt they could build communities of believers with the mortar of compromise or political
correctness.  These were the false teachers that crept into the church, who disguised themselves as followers of Christ – who professed to be His
ministers and servants – but who led the people astray.  

Our prayer is to become "Overcomers" through the power of the Holy Spirit.  The "Overcomer's Series" is a gem written by
Tyson S from scribd.
com.

Lesson 2 - Overcoming Trials and Temptation

    1 Corinthians 10:13, "No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted
    beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.

Introduction

A mountain climber expects to encounter challenges on his way to the summit. Falling rocks, sudden storms, wild animals, extreme temperatures,
hidden crevices under the snow—all these dangers and more are expected. In addition to these outside challenges, the climber’s determination
will be tested by tiredness and hunger. Despite these difficulties, he prepares himself to conquer every obstacle until he reaches the summit. In
the same way, Christians expect trials and temptations in life, but depend on God to help us overcome.

Our sinful state

When we become Christian, all our sin is erased by the redemptive sacrifice of Jesus. When Jesus died, He redeemed us, or bought us back,
from the power and authority of Satan. However, even though we were given new spiritual life through Christ, we still live in this sinful world. Our
sinful nature is still something we have to struggle against. One day, God will bring a new heaven and new earth, and will replace our old bodies
with new glorious ones. At that time, God promises there will be no more sickness, death, or suffering of any kind. We will also not have to
struggle with sin, because God will deal with sin completely on the Day of Judgment. But until that day, as long as we live here on earth, we will
have to overcome trials and temptations.

(For reference: Hebrews 9:15, Romans 7:18-20, 1 Corinthians 15:42-44, Revelation 21:1-4, John 16:33)

Definition of trials and temptations

In the New Testament, the same Greek word (peirazo) is used for trial, test, and temptation. The basic meaning of peirazo is to test something to
determine its response, value, or character. When peirazo is used to describe external hardships allowed by God, we use the word “test” or
“trial,” but when peirazo is used to describe inner struggles with sin, we use the word “temptation.”
God tested the Israelites in the desert to know what was in their hearts, and tested Abraham’s faith by asking him to sacrifice Isaac. God allows
external hardships or difficult situations produce good qualities in us. When we face hardship, we learn to rely on God and to have faith in Him.
God wants to strengthen our faith through tests and trials.

    Deuteronomy 8:2-5, "Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the desert these forty years, to humble you and test you in
    order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. He humbled you, causing you to hunger and feeding
    you with manna, which neither you nor your fathers had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that
    comes from the mouth of the Lord. Your clothes did not wear out and your feet did not swell during these forty years. Know then in your
    heart that as a man disciplines his son, so the Lord your God disciplines you."

(For reference: Genesis 22:1-12, Hebrews 12:10-11, James 1:2-4, 1 Peter 1:6-7)

God does not test us to make us fail, but He intends we will “pass the test” and grow spiritually. James 1:13-15 makes it clear that God is not the
source of evil desires that come from our own sinful nature—God does not tempt us to do evil.

    James 1:13-15, "When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.”  For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone;
    but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to
    sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death."

The verses above show temptation is not from God, but comes from our own fleshly desires. Our fleshly desires always lead us into sin and
destruction, but the Spirit of God which lives inside Christians always leads us into love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
gentleness, and self-control. Each time you are tempted, you have a choice: either you can choose to obey your flesh or you can choose to obey
the Spirit. One brother in our church describes the situation like this: There are two fighting dogs inside you; the one you feed will grow stronger.
We can either feed our flesh or feed our spirit; if one grows strong, the other grows weak. So you could consider temptation a test (peirazo), but
one that determines whether we will follow our sinful nature or the Holy Spirit.

(For reference: Galatians 5:16-25, 6:8; 1 Peter 4:1-2)

In addition to coming from our sinful desires, the Bible also says temptation comes from Satan. He is called “the tempter” in Matthew 4:3 and 1
Thessalonians 3:5. Satan uses sin to lure us away from God and eventually destroy us. In every case when Satan tempts people, he offers
something that looks good but is actually sin. For example, he offered Eve fruit that gave knowledge and was good to eat. If you read the story of
how Satan tempted Jesus, you will see he always used some good reasons why Jesus should sin.

(For reference: Genesis 3:1-6, Matthew 4:1-11, 2 Corinthians 11:14)

The Book of Job offers a great example of how tests and temptations are different. God allows a hardship to come as a test, with the intention
that we will overcome and be blessed. But Satan tries to get us to sin against God.
Satan was given permission to do all kinds of harm to Job to see if Job would curse God. Job lost his children, his possessions, and was himself
afflicted with painful sores all over his body. Human reasoning would say God had abandoned Job, and surely Job was tempted to blame God. In
fact, that is what Job’s wife argued; she played right into the plans of Satan!

    Job 2:9-10, "His wife said to him, “Are you still holding on to your integrity? Curse God and die!”  He replied, “You are talking like a foolish
    woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?”  In all this, Job did not sin in what he said."

Even though Job did not know why God allowed these things to happen to him, he accepted that God was the one who would eventually save
him. Job recognized his troubles as a test from God, and also recognized Satan’s scheme. He did not rely on human reasoning but held fast to
his faith in a righteous God.

    Job 23:10-12, "But he knows the way I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold. My feet have closely followed his steps; I
    have kept to his way without turning aside. I have not departed from the commands of his lips; I have treasured the words of his mouth
    more than my daily bread."

How to overcome trials and temptation

1. Avoid temptation
 Everyone faces temptation. Job was a righteous man, but he still faced trials and temptations. Jesus is God, yet the Bible says He was tempted
in every way just as we are (He did not sin, however). We need to realize that trials and temptations happen to everyone, both righteous and
unrighteous. Therefore, just like the mountain climber tries to take the safest route, we should also be careful and try to avoid falling into sin.

(For reference: Hebrews 4:15, 1 Corinthians 10:13)

Remember that temptations are traps where we are enticed by our own sinful desires. If we give in to temptation and sin, then we have fallen into
the trap. The Bible uses many descriptive words to illustrate how temptation is a trap in Proverbs 5:3-4, Galatians 6:1, 1 Timothy 6:9, 2 Timothy 2:
24-26,  and James 1:14. A trap is either hidden so we can’t see it or it has some bait to lure us in—it’s something that is both destructive and
easy to fall into.

What is the best way to keep from falling into a trap? Avoid it! If we are serious about following God, we should be wise and keep ourselves far
from sin. Remember that temptations always look appealing and that Satan uses human arguments to tempt us. But instead of debating how
close to get to sin, we should run in the opposite direction.
 
Let’s look at some examples of how we can avoid temptation:

  • Sexual sin—For men, temptation to sin sexually often comes through media: magazines, TV, or the Internet. A good way to avoid
    temptation is to take away access to those media.
  • Drug addiction—The best way to avoid being tempted to drink, smoke, or use other drugs is to stay away from situations where we might
    be offered those things. Don’t keep those drugs or paraphernalia around—get rid of them!
  • Love of money—Jesus said we cannot love money and love God. He also said wherever our treasure is, there are heart will be also
    (Matthew 6:21). Each time we faithfully give our tithe and offering to God, we remind ourselves of what Jesus said. Because our heart will
    be where our treasure is, tithing and giving is a good way to avoid the love of money.

2. Watch and pray

A mountain climber must be aware of his surroundings. Dark clouds warn him to build a shelter, deep snow means an avalanche is possible, and
certain types of rock are dangerous to climb. Similarly, because we know trials and temptations will definitely come, we have to pay attention,
listen to the Holy Spirit, and ask God to strengthen us and deliver us from evil.
Consider Jesus: He endured the most difficult trial anyone has ever undergone by watching and praying. Before Jesus went to Jerusalem for the
Passover, before he was arrested and crucified, He warned His disciples many times they would face a severe trial. But even on the night Jesus
was betrayed, the disciples slept as Jesus prayed passionately.

    Matthew 26:36-41; 43, "Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over
    there and pray.” He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to
    them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.

    Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I
    will, but as you will.

    Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. 'Could you men not keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter. “Watch
    and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.'

…When he came back, he found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy."

When Jesus prayed, God’s will for Him was confirmed, and He received strength to do God’s will. But the disciples did not watch and pray; they
did not listen to the Holy Spirit or seek strength from God. As a result, when the trial came, they reacted out of their human nature and not
according to the Spirit of God.

This story is a good example of why we need to “watch and pray” in order to overcome trials and temptations in our lives. “Watching” means we
always listen to the Holy Spirit so that we don’t react to situations according to our human nature. “Praying” means we ask God for strength to
overcome trials and temptations. Jesus prayed to the Father for strength, and Luke’s gospel says an angel came and strengthened Him.

3. Stand firm on God’s word

The most challenging aspects of climbing a mountain are technical climbs, where the climber must use anchors in rock or ice to prevent
themselves from falling. God’s promises found in the Bible are the Christian’s anchor during the most difficult trials and temptations. When we are
firmly anchored in God’s word, we will overcome trials and temptations.

When Jesus was tempted in the desert, He used scriptures to answer Satan. In the same way, when we face temptations or difficult situations in
our lives, we need to take a firm stand on God’s promises in the Bible. For example, if we are in financial difficulty, we should confess God’s
promises that the children of the righteous will never beg bread (Psalm 37:25). If we are in need, we should also practice giving, because Jesus
promised that those who give to God will receive abundantly more in return (Luke 6:38).

One of the most important Bible promises to remember regarding temptations is in 1 Corinthians 10:13

    1 Corinthians 10:13, "No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted
    beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it."

Isn’t it wonderful?  This verse says that God will always be with us to help us overcome temptation. He really does want us to “pass the test” and
is with us, even when it seems we cannot bear any more. God has a purpose to perfect us.

Paul was also tested by temptation (in addition to other trials), but Paul knew God was working even in the most difficult times.

    2 Corinthians 11:29-30, 12:9-10, "Who is weak, and I do not feel weak?  Who is led into sin, and I do not inwardly burn?  If I must boast, I
    will boast of the things that show my weakness. …Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power
    may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am
    weak, then I am strong."

These promises and many others are essential tools in helping us get through tough times. We need to study God’s word and use those
promises to anchor our faith in the midst of trails and temptations.

4. Don’t give up

If a mountain climber is going to make it to the summit, he needs determination and faith. In the same way, we need to make a firm decision to
overcome trials and temptations in our lives and believe it is possible. God promises us enough grace to get through every difficult situation, and
He who promised is faithful—it is up to us to hold onto God. We cannot give up in our struggle against sin.

So far in this lesson, we’ve compared overcoming trials and temptations to climbing a mountain. But unlike most mountain climbers who choose
their challenge, Christians cannot pick and choose which challenges they face. We have no alternative—we must overcome trials and
temptations in our lives. We may fall along the way, but we must determine to get back up and continue climbing the mountain because there is
no alternative.

Hebrews 10:19-39 paints a vivid picture of a church that suffered severe persecution, yet the author encourages the readers to continue on in
their walk with God. He tells them to not give up meeting together, and to encourage one another as they press on toward the goal. The author
also warns the readers in verses 26-31 not to give up in their struggle against sin. Instead, Christians should continue to persevere no matter
what temptation or trials come our way. If we do this, we will receive our reward.

    Hebrews 10:35-36, "So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done
    the will of God, you will receive what he has promised."

Conclusion

Every Christian can expect to face trials and temptations. Trials are inevitable difficulties in life that God uses to mature us, while temptations
come from our human desires. God wants us to resist temptation and pass the test, but Satan uses temptation to make us fall.

There are four keys to overcoming trials and temptations: avoid temptation, watch and pray, stand firm on God’s word, and don’t to give up.

Discussion Questions
    1. Explain how a trial from God is different from a temptation from Satan?
    2. Why does God allow us to go through trials?
    3. Should we be surprised to face difficulties in our lives?
    4. What should we do in response to difficulties?
    5. How can you avoid temptation in your life?
Daily Maintenance:  Overcoming Trials and Temptations
"Balancing the Goodness of Torah with the Grace and Mercy of Messiah"
Congregation T’shuvat Yisrael-Daily Maintenance: Trials/Temptations
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