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Living in the Age of Signs

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Temptation is a fork in the road. It is choosing which road to travel: the high one or the low one.

Wouldn't life be easier if there were no forks, no decisions to make—if the road were simply a straight and narrow path? But the Bible gives us no magical formulas for that kind of life. It assures us that we will come to those forks regularly, and we must choose where to step. Some forks will lead down roads of sexual immorality, some of gluttony, some of materialism, some of revenge, and too many more to name. If we could see the road map, it might look like a plate of spaghetti.

In fact, the wiser and more mature in Christ we become, the subtler and more treacherous are the choices. They don't become easier but more difficult, for the devil is no fool. Advancing spiritually leads to advancing opposition. This is an important truth to remember while walking with the Lord. He will hold our hand, and He will never fail to guide us in the direction that is right and true.

It never becomes easier, but it does become more rewarding. The founder of Dallas Theological Seminary, Dr. Lewis Sperry Chafer, once said that committed Christians are placed on the front lines of the battle. It is the place where the enemy's fiercest pressure is felt, but it also offers the best view of his crushing defeat. You will never grow beyond the power of temptation. It will crop up in ever–new and increasingly devious forms, but your eyes will be filled with the glorious sights God reserves for those who follow Him with the utmost devotion.

When you find yourself on the front lines of battle, stand firm and fight!

20 Truths from Scripture

Here are twenty truths from Scripture that help tame temptation as you pursue a life of holiness in the Lord:

1 Corinthians 10:12–14 (ESV)
Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry.

Hebrews 4:15–16 (ESV)
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Matthew 6:13
And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.

Matthew 26:41
Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.

Luke 4:13
Now when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from Him until an opportune time.

1 Corinthians 6:18
Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body.

1 Timothy 6:9
But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition.

2 Timothy 2:22
Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.

Hebrews 2:18
For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted.

Romans 8:37
Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.

Romans 13:14
But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.

Proverbs 4:14–15
Do not enter the path of the wicked, and do not walk in the way of evil. Avoid it, do not travel on it; turn away from it and pass on.

James 1:2–3
My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.

James 4:7
Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.

Philippians 4:13
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

1 Peter 5:8–9
Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world.

Psalms 119:11
Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against you.

Psalms 119:67
Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep Your word.

Jeremiah 17:5, 7–8
Thus says the Lord: "Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart departs from the Lord. . . . Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, and whose hope is the Lord. For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, which spreads out its roots by the river, and will not fear when heat comes."

Ephesians 6:10–13,
Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

Daily Devotions

Today's Devotion: Things Always Improve

When Hezekiah came to the throne of Israel, the land was traumatized by a reign of terror instituted by his father, King Ahaz. During his reign, he promoted child sacrifice, idolatrous worship, disastrous warfare, and religious persecution. He closed the temple of the Lord and prohibited anyone from worshiping Jehovah. When he died, his 25-year-old son Prince Hezekiah became king, and things changed quickly and dramatically. Hezekiah was a true worshiper of the Lord, and he immediately reopened the temple, mobilized the priests and Levites, reestablished worship, and promoted revival.

God prepared the people for that moment, and the land recovered more quickly than anyone could have imagined. The people rejoiced when the events took place so suddenly.

There’s a verse that says, “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning” (Psalm 30:5). It is a faithful reminder that problems are temporary, but our blessings last forever. We persevere by faith and trust during the night, but as the dawn appears on the horizon, the sun rises quickly bringing hope and light. So don’t give up—God is preparing you to rejoice.

The best is yet to be and we can’t lose for winning!
Vance Havner

Temptation. Whether we realize it or not, it is part of our past, and it will be part of our future. The moment we resolve to stand strong and walk away is when temptation grows most intense. That is why Scripture is of paramount importance. God's Word contains the answer to resisting temptation before it's too late. Consider these verses:

No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it (1 Corinthians 10:13).

Let no one say when he is tempted, "I am tempted by God"; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full–grown, brings forth death (James 1:13–15).

Some people wonder about the value of the Old Testament in a Christian's life. The apostle Paul addressed that question in 1 Corinthians 10:11—"Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition." To what things was Paul referring? He listed them in verses 7–10. They are idolatry, immorality, infidelity, and disloyalty.

Temptation is not sin; yielding to temptation is.

With that background, Paul exhorted believers not to make the same choices the Israelites made—not to provoke God's discipline by willfully sinning. None of us is above God's discipline if we engage in sin. We must look for and take "the way of escape" God provides in every situation where temptation is found (verse 13). To think our temptation is unique is to believe a lie. "No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man" (verse 13). There are no "new" temptations in life.

The apostle James argued that if temptation becomes serious, it is because we have allowed it to do so. Our own "desires" entice us away from God and desire "gives birth to sin" (James 1:13–15). God doesn't tempt us, but He may allow temptation to enter our lives in order to give us opportunities to make obedient and mature choices.

Jesus was tempted by Satan in the wilderness, and He took the same means of escape that is available to us—obedience to God's Word (Matthew 4:1–11; Hebrews 5:8). Temptation is not sin; yielding to temptation is. There is always a righteous choice to be made if we are willing to seek it.

Complete audio message as heard at Shadow Mountain Community Church

The Age of Anything Goes

Complete audio message as heard at Shadow Mountain Community Church

We live in a time that is historically unprecedented in its open idolatry, debauchery, and pursuit of immorality, but as we look to God's Word we gain understanding on how to live for Christ during a time of moral decline. Covers Revelation 1:18-32 plus other selected Scriptures.

We represent Christ in vivid and urgent times. Advancing technologies, coupled with the loss of spiritual values, have created an age of peril and constant challenge. We never thought we'd see a day of such rapidly crumbling foundations or such brazen evil. Here are three D's we need for viewing life through the lens of eternity and standing firm amidst a deteriorating culture.

Determination

Above all else, we've got to live with determination as young Daniel did in pagan Babylon. He and his friends were enrolled in a godless educational system, given secular names, clothed in Babylonian garments, and fed an extravagant diet. But Daniel placed boundaries in his life. He knew the lines he would not cross. The Bible says, "Daniel was determined not to defile himself" (Daniel 1:8, NLT). The New International Version uses the word "resolved." The New King James Version says he "purposed in his heart." The New American Standard Version says he "made up his mind."

I like those terms. Every portable electronic device, used incorrectly, is an invitation to evil. Every screen in your home is potentially lurid. Every conversation in the workaday world has the potential to be profane, rude, or ill advised. Every meal is a temptation to gluttony. Every motive that propels our actions is suspect. The shifting values of the world leave us defensive and uncertain. In a time of moral confusion, family breakdown, church marginalization, economic uncertainty, and rising secularism, we've got to be determined to stand firm for Christ, to be resolved, to purpose in our heart, to make up our mind.

One of the most interesting characters of the Reformation was Desiderius Erasmus, born in Rotterdam in 1466. He was exceptionally intelligent; and, following the deaths of his parents when he was thirteen, he gave himself to studying in the schools and monasteries of Europe. He became one of the greatest scholars and most creative writers in Christian history, possessing a heart for the original texts of the Bible. As he studied the Greek New Testament, he realized God sent Christ to ransom us at the price of His blood. He grew critical of the church of his day, especially of those who "refashioned the Holy Scriptures as though they were made of wax." He endeavored to get the Greek New Testament into the hands of Christians and to restore the church to true spirituality. His efforts paid off, for his influence ignited such stalwarts as Martin Luther and Ulrich Zwingli, the Reformation heroes of Germany and Switzerland. In words that could be spoken in our own day, Erasmus said:

When all is dark, when the world is in tumult and men's opinions differ so widely, where can we take refuge if not in the Gospel teaching? This generation is the most corrupt there has ever been. When did tyranny and greed lord it so widely and go unpunished? When was so much importance ever attached to ceremonies? When did iniquity abound with so little to restrain it? Our plight would indeed be sorry if Christ had not left us live coals of His teaching. We must blow up those coals into flame. The winter of our wickedness never brings the fire of love so low that it cannot be rekindled. Christ is like a source of eternal fire.1

Yet when Luther blew the coals into a flame, Erasmus (by then old and ill) didn't know what to think. He vacillated between Luther and the Pope. He anguished. He refused to take sides. He was afraid to study Luther's writings for fear he would have to render an opinion about them. And today he is remembered as the fountainhead of the Reformation who, when push came to shove, lost his nerve.

That may not be a fair analysis of Erasmus, but the lesson shouldn't be lost on us. When push comes to shove, let's be more like Daniel than Desiderius. Let's be determined and resolved to remain faithful to Christ and His moral values and His doctrinal truths whatever the cost.

Devotion

We've also got to live with devotion to our Lord Jesus. Devotion is different than determination. I may be determined to remain true to my wife, but it's another thing to be devoted to her. The word "devotion" conveys wholehearted love. As it relates to Christ, this means strong and consistent fellowship with Him.

It's important to have the right convictions, but deep convictions without divine fellowship turns us into mere zealots. If we hold the truths of the Gospel without spending time with the Giver of the Gospel, we'll lose the internal sweetness of our faith. Christianity is not just a cause to which we are dedicated; it is a Christ to whom we are devoted.

I think it's important to have a little desk somewhere, a table, a chair, a quiet spot, a private place, a closet—and there to meet with the Lord every day in devoted Bible study and prayer. It's not simply a routine, but a relationship. It's a shelter from the storm, the shadow of a mighty rock within a weary land. If we are going to be dedicated to the truths of Christ, we must be devoted to the time we spend with Him.

Demonstration

That leads us to a life of demonstrating Christ to the world. Some years ago, Ralph Carmichael wrote a wonderful little song called "A Quiet Place." It is about our daily devotional life, that time when we find "a quiet place, far from the rapid pace, where God can soothe my troubled mind." I like the way the song ends. Carmichael wrote:

Whether a garden small,
Or on a mountain tall
New strength and courage there I find.
Then from this quiet place
I go prepared to face
A new day with love for all mankind.

When we are dedicated to our convictions and devoted to our Lord, we leave our quiet place of fellowship to demonstrate His love to those we meet during the day. We become active and vibrant examples of the children of God. We let our light shine before men that they might see our good works and glorify our Father in heaven.

Today the foundations of society are crumbling, and unthinkable evils are prevailing. But we can stand firm in the conflict and flourish in our testimony if we look at our world through the lens of eternity. That means living a life full of determination, devotion, and demonstration.

1Quoted by David Bentley–Taylor in My Dear Erasmus (London: Christian Focus, 2002), 94.

Age of Anything Goes

Sheila Walsh interviews Dr. David Jeremiah about the current moral climate in America.

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Life Is Too Colorful to Be Afraid of Red

The Account is a dramatic Turning Point Television production. The story follows a 1960s ad agency as they develop a campaign to convince the culture of ten different beliefs that they think America will never accept—beliefs we see running rampant in our world today.

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