By: Cole Stoecklein
12 So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! 13 No temptation[a] has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted[b] beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted,[c] he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. – 1 Corinthians 10: 12-13
My wife recently made a purchase that has invited a great temptation into my daily life. An overwhelming temptation. My wife bought Oreos. But these aren’t your average Oreos… These are white fudge dipped miniature Oreos.
Resisting the temptation to eat these Oreos has become a daily struggle. I can feel my heart, soul, and mind boiling over in desire as I sit on my couch and try to tell myself, “you just ate dinner, you don’t need them, they won’t satisfy, you’ll just feel guilty, don’t do it…” Nonetheless, I always find myself standing in the pantry wiping Oreo crumbs off my shirt a few moments later.
Isn’t that how temptation feels sometimes? Like an overwhelming urge or desire, that no matter what you do or tell yourself, you always find yourself falling into again? There has to be a better way to fight this battle.
There’s an old Cherokee Indian proverb that has helped me visualize and grasp the Biblical methodology for fighting temptation.
An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. “A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy. “It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.”
He continued, “The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.”
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”
The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”
My whole life I have battled sin with one methodology: Try to remove, resist, and flee from temptations as much as I possibly can. Essentially, I try to starve the evil wolf inside my soul. Interestingly enough, this is only part of the Biblical methodology we find in the Scriptures for fighting temptation. Paul, in his own way, ascribes to the methodology of the Cherokee Indian proverb. In 1 Corinthians 10:12, Paul reveals his method for resisting temptation. He says, “So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful in case you fall!”. In the Greek language, the word for “be careful” means to “look after, provide for, and take care of”. Paul, much like the Cherokee Proverb, is encouraging us to provide the good wolf in our soul with food so that we can win our battle with temptation.
What does this look like? How do we feed the good wolf within us? This could be reading God’s word daily so that, when temptation comes, you have Scripture readily available in your mind to fight the temptation. Set aside to time to pray earnestly about the temptations you are facing in your life. Provide yourself with people who are willing to keep you accountable to the sins that you are looking to remove from your life. Spend quality time with people you love. Exercise, take a nap, read a book, listen to a podcast. Whatever fills your spiritual tank, do that!
Starving the evil wolf inside of us is a great start to fighting temptation, but eventually we are going to feed on something. What if we committed to filling our soul with the good things, so that the bad becomes less and less appetizing? Next time I’m sitting on my couch thinking about Oreos, I’ll reach for something much more beneficial to me. Perhaps some fruit. Because if I don’t feed the good in me, I’ll be wiping oreo crumbs off my shirt in no time.