I attended the National Association of Nouthetic Counselors (www.nanc.org) conference last week in San Francisco. When I attend events like this I often hope to leave with one or two really good ideas or really helpful concepts that help me to grow and help me minister to others.
Last week I was truly blessed in the session by Nicholas Ellen. His subject was dealing with temptation. This topic could be dealt with in many ways, but Nicholas taught from James 4. You see, he started by explaining that the way you deal with temptation is to learn to desire different things!
Let me explain a bit. He argued that temptation is more like a delivery person than a salesmen. In temptation, the product sells itself. If I enjoy being drunk and the way being drunk makes me feel than I am tempted. Of course, if the product is present the temptation is even stronger. But if I am a person that hates the taste of alcohol and had one really bad “drunk” experience, then that person’s level of temptation is much, much lower. Why? Because the product, alcohol, has nothing to offer that person.
Friends, if you are going to deal with your temptation, you must learn to value your relationship with Christ instead of valuing whatever that product (i.e. temptation) might deliver.
There is a place for helping counselees learn to avoid places of temptation – that is Psalm 1 kind of living. But if we are going to face temptation head on then we must also stop believing that lie that the temptation is actually good for us.
Instead, we can rest on the promises that Jesus has made us new and truly given us all things anyway. We will gain victory in our temptation when we realize and live out the fact that Jesus is all we need.