When it comes to junk food, nearly everyone has a weak spot. Maybe for you, it’s the perfect salty bag of chips. Or maybe it’s beef jerky or those tiny pizza rolls. Maybe you have a sweet tooth and you just can’t pass on ice cream or cookies… or both. Whatever it is, we all have something that taps into our weak spot, our cravings. When it’s around us, we just can’t seem to help ourselves. And it’s more than just junk food, right? That “gotta-have-it-right-now” temptation can pop up in a lot of different areas. Gossip. Movies. Spending money. Sex… Temptation is everywhere. But what are we supposed to do about it? Most of us know that giving in never makes our lives better, so what is it about the things that tempt us that makes us feel so powerless to say no? Thankfully, Scripture has a lot to say when it comes to temptation. And while there’s no promise that it will ever go away, we can find the courage to resist it, replace it, and avoid getting hooked.
Session One: Bait & Switch
Bottom Line: Look for the hook.
Have you ever felt like you’ve been tricked? Maybe you got a sweet deal on designer sunglasses only to discover they were knockoffs. Maybe you clicked something online that seemed legit only to get a virus that won’t go away. Or maybe a friend begged you to loan them 20 bucks and magically “forgot” to pay you back. No matter what it was, it’s never fun to feel like you’ve been fooled. In the Bible, James, Jesus’ brother, says that temptation works the same way. It tricks us. It entices us by hiding the real danger behind lies and excuses that make it look harmless or even good for us. And that is how we get hooked. But James also reminds us that we have a choice. We can choose to recognize those lies, call them what they are, and look for the dangers hidden behind them. And when we do, we will find the strength to resist them and win the battle against temptation.
Session Two: The Cookie Jar
Bottom Line: God cares more about what we embrace than what we avoid.
Have you ever been tempted to pull a fire alarm—not because something was on fire but just because you knew you weren’t supposed to? Or what about speeding? Do you tend to creep over the speed limit even when you aren’t in a hurry? Play games on your phone in class even when you know your grades are bad and you should pay attention? There is just something about breaking rules that feels irresistible. Even when it doesn’t benefit us at all, knowing something is off-limits makes it more appealing than ever. That’s why simply knowing we shouldn’t or telling ourselves “don’t do that” isn’t helpful when it comes to fighting temptation. But what other options do we have? In the New Testament, James doesn’t talk about temptation by simply telling us all the bad things we shouldn’t do. Instead, he gives us something else to focus on—a strategy that is less about avoiding bad things and more about embracing something better.