Whether we like it or not, temptation is coming. Maybe the past few days have seemed kind of lax for you and you are starting to feel comfortable, like you have this overcoming temptation thing down. Trust me, as soon as you get settled in that, Satan will pound you. He is just looking for a more opportune time (cf. Luke 4:13).
We have already learned several activities that prepare for temptation:
3. Bible Study
However, none of this will get us fully ready to face temptation if we do not have poverty of spirit.
Matthew 5:3 says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (ESV). The word translated “poor” in this text (ptochos) is extreme. It doesn’t mean, “Hey, buddy, can you spare a dime? I need a boost.” It means, “If I don’t get help, I’ll starve.” Thus, being poor in spirit is the spiritual equivalent of Lazarus in Luke 16:19-21.
Poverty of spirit recognizes I have nothing to offer God. I can’t pay for my forgiveness. I can’t even work my forgiveness off by being good enough for the rest of my life. I have no bartering power. The reason I have no bartering power is because I have no power at all.
So long as we think we are somehow powerful enough to face temptation with only a little help now and then, we will inevitably fall. That is the heart of I Corinthians 10:12, “Therefore let anyone who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall” (ESV). If we think we are standing on our own legs we won’t make it. Only when we recognize we walk on legs God has given us can we overcome the temptation. Because only then will we let God fight the battle and rely on the strength He gives.
Paul demonstrated this in II Corinthians 12:7-10. When he thought he was strong, he was weak. But when he realized how weak he was, then he relied on God and then he was strong because of God. As Ephesians 3:20 says, God is able to do far more abundantly than we ask or think by the power working within us. Philippians 2:12-13 explains we can work out our salvation with fear and trembling because God is at work within us.
Rest assured, Satan will tempt you greater than you can handle by yourself. But he cannot tempt you greater than your strength when you are relying on God. Why not just pick up your poverty of spirit and rely on God? Do it now. Don’t wait until your are faced with temptation. That will be too late. Recognize your poverty now and rely on God now.