How do you handle (or why should we even try to resist) the temptations to have sex, drink, steal, etc?
Why should you resist temptation? Because you're worth it! (Previous and current hot topics have dealt with this question, which are helpful to read -- "Integrity Matters," "Sexual Morality," "Temptation Overcome"). The Bible tells us, "Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart" (II Tim 2:22).
Why do we "flee…lusts"? Because doing things for self-gratification or for social acceptance may have an effect which we think we enjoy, but which is only temporary and often harmful. Sooner or later, we'll have to confront the problems we have now created as a result of looking for pleasure, happiness, peace, friendship, escape, or love in someone or something other than God.
See, temptation's goal is to make us feel incomplete, unworthy, inadequate and then to make us believe that doing what it suggests (drinking, sleeping with someone, getting high) will fix everything. It'll make us cool, bring us pleasure, make us forget our problems. But it won't -- because rather than face the real issues, yielding to such temptations is really an act of running away from or trying to ignore problems.
What most of us are really looking for is love, acceptance, an overwhelming sense of peace and comfort. Unfortunately, people who give into temptation are "looking for love in all the wrong places," as the song goes. We've all heard that we can't depend upon people, things, or places to make us feel loved or happy. It's true. So who can we turn to? Where can we go to feel accepted, loved, comfortable with who we are? How do we get there?
The Psalmist answers: "Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? or who shall stand in his holy place? He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully" (Ps. 24:3, 4). Feeling loved comes from feeling the presence of God, from standing in His "holy place." In God's place, there are no temptations. In God's eyes, we are pure.
Therefore, we can start expressing our purity and feel this all-encompassing love. God gives us courage with which to defend our purity, enabling us to stand up to the many temptations that come our way. As we do this, we'll discover a blessing far greater than the one for which we thought we were searching. Jesus promises: "Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God" (Matt 5:8). What a promise!
Here are just a few Bible citations and viewpoints that individuals have found helpful in dealing with different types of temptations and offer for our own thoughtful consideration:
Unfortunately, for a teenager, life is full of temptations -- skipping class, doing drugs, having sex, drinking alcohol. Some teenagers form gangs and use violence to solve their problems. Others steal, bet, and lie. Not all teens give into these temptations. Actually, most don't. Those who do get sucked into temptations need the support of others around them to help them out. All these problems can be solved. The answers are in the Bible.
To heal violence, abuse, and aggression, we can listen to the words of God's angel: "Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do any thing unto him" (Gen. 22:12). God wishes for peace and love between all people, young and old alike.
To confront theft, we can do what the Bible tells us: "And if it be stolen from him, he shall make restitution unto the owner thereof" (Ex. 22:7). If a teen steals something, he needs to return it immediately, showing responsibility, sorrow, and repentance for his actions.
To stop lying, we must practice telling the truth. Often it seems that if we're stuck in a pit, the best way to get out of it is to lie our way out of it. But the Bible states: "Thou shalt not raise a false report" (Ex. 23:1).
Samuel Thomas, teenager
To deal with sex, we also turn to the Bible, from which we may conclude that sex as a committed, loving act is acceptable within marriage. But if marriage is simply a venue for sex, then it is sinful. In the case of indulgence, adultery, or premarital sex, sex is also unacceptable and sinful. Paul said:
Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body. What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's. (I Cor. 6:18-20)
Hunter Hoffman, age 15