A note from Kelly King: All of us must be transparent when it comes to temptation. No matter whether the sin is against our own physical body or the body of Christ through gossip or pride, there are some practical steps to hold us accountable. Many times that is through the relationship with another believer—someone you trust who will point you to biblical truth. In today’s article, Ashley Chesnut gives some practical ways you can help others when they face temptation.
For the first time in her life, she finally confessed her sexual sin. Sitting across from me with her honey cinnamon latte, she bravely let someone else know that she wasn’t as holy or pure as she projected to be, and as she told me her story, she verbalized how trapped she felt by her sin. She didn’t feel like she could stop, even though she was disgusted with herself all over again each time she gave in.
Together, we examined why she sinned, and we discussed steps she could take next time she felt tempted. One of those steps involved reaching out with an SOS to a close friend, letting someone else know about her temptation in the moment and giving her someone to talk to instead of acting out.
In discussing this option, I realized that neither this sister or her friend knew what to say or do in such a conversation. The friend needed coaching in how to respond when someone says, “I feel tempted right now.”
So, in case you’re the friend in such a situation, here are some helpful ways to respond:
Ask your sister what’s going on.
Give her an opportunity to tell you about her temptation, what’s going on, and what she is feeling. To even send an SOS text is a huge step to let others in. Acknowledge this and affirm that it indicates the work of the Holy Spirit in your sister.
Remind her of truth about her identity.
She may not know what she needs in this moment, but you can speak truth to her about who she is in Christ. My sweet sister saw herself as gross because of her sin, and she felt shame for even struggling with this sin. In conversations with her, I remind her of what is true about her identity, of how—at salvation—she became clothed with Christ’s righteousness. So when God looks at her, He knows her sin, but He sees the righteousness of Christ. This is how the New Testament can call Christians saints. We are holy because Christ has made us holy. Let your sister know this is how Christ sees her and this is how you see her.
Rehearse why Christ is worthy of our fight against sin.
When we’re not in the middle of being tempted, it’s easy to identify why we shouldn’t give in to sin. But when the heat is on and that sin looks good, we need help remembering the why. What is our motivation for fighting sin in the first place? Christ. It’s so easy to forget Who He is and what He has done, but if I can turn my eyes upon Jesus, the things of earth truly do grow “strangely dim” as the hymn says.
“For those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit have their minds set on the things of the Spirit” (Rom. 8:5).
If a sister reaches out to say she’s tempted, ask her to identify her reasons for not giving in. Ask her why Christ is worthy. Describe God’s attributes to each other and how you have seen His goodness and faithfulness in your life. Help each other shift the focus to Him.
Make a plan.
Based on the person’s temptation, how can they continue to fight well when they get off the phone with you? Do they need to physically go somewhere else or do something active? Do they need to journal what they are feeling and thinking and discuss that with God? Do they need to spend time reading and meditating on Scripture? Do they need to help or encourage someone else in that moment? Do they need a friend to come and be with them? Do they need you to hold on to their phone, tablet, or computer for the night or for a couple of days, weeks, etc.?
Err on the side of caution here. We shouldn’t trust ourselves but, instead, we should acknowledge how weak we are when it comes to sin. I’ve had one girl in our Singles Ministry who asked her small group leader to keep her e-reader for her for several months so she wouldn’t be tempted. She was humble enough to recognize that committing to fight sin meant that she had to give up the device that was enabling her sin. This is a practical application of Jesus’ command to cut off the hand or eye that causes us to sin (Matt. 5:29-30).
As Paul wraps up his description of the armor of God, he urges believers to “Pray at all times in the Spirit with every prayer and request, and stay alert with all perseverance and intercession for all the saints” (Eph. 6:18).
Pray for your sister and pray with your sister. Together, ask the Lord for strength in your weakness (2 Cor. 12:9-10), to deliver you from evil (Matt. 6:13), and for perseverance and faithfulness to endure (1 Cor. 10:13). Ask the Lord for a greater love for Him and a greater hatred of sin, and praise Him for the victory that He has over sin and death.
As Christians, God has given us the gift of the body of Christ, and we need each other’s help in combatting sin. Guilt and shame function like squatters in our souls, and if we listen to them, we will isolate from fellow believers instead of reaching out to them. Letting someone know the real you—like my sweet sister bravely did—means overcoming fear and pride, but the benefit of doing so far outweighs the cost. Will you take a step to confess your sin to a fellow believer and ask them for help?
If you’re the one on the receiving end of such a request, remember that God does not condemn that person for their sin (Rom. 8:1), and neither should you. This is an opportunity to encourage and to come alongside a sister in Christ—to be the body of Christ as God intended it to be. In light of these things, let us love each other well. Let us keep the “one another” commands of Scripture: serving one another (Gal. 5:13), speaking truth to one another (Eph. 4:25), encouraging and building one another up (1 Thess. 4:18; 5:11), praying for one another (Jas. 5:16), teaching one another (Col. 3:16), being patient with each other (Eph. 4:2; Col. 3:13), and spurring one another on toward love and good deeds (Heb. 10:24). Let us love as Christ loves and let us point each other to Him—the Author and Perfecter of our faith.
Ashley Chesnut serves as the Associate Singles 20s/30s Minister at The Church at Brook Hills in Birmingham, Alabama. She has a Master of Divinity from Beeson Divinity School and a Certificate of Biblical Counseling from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. While Ashley has a passion for discipling young women, she also loves her city and wrote a children’s book about it called Down in the Ham: A Child’s Guide to Downtown Birmingham. When she’s not at the church or meeting with girls, you can probably find her at the farmer’s market or trying some new local restaurant.