I don’t know about you, but when I get a text message, phone call, or email, the dopamine level in my body (that bodily neurotransmitter that plays a role in sensing pleasure) rises a bit, and I smile. Why? Well, because those notifications suggest that someone out there is trying to contact me, someone out there likes me, someone out there believes I’m significant! Then I look at the contact and see that it’s just a junk text, phone call, or email, and the smile slowly slips from my face. Does that ever happen to you?
Did you know that the average American gets about 15 spam text messages per month, according to research from Statista, a German company specializing in market and consumer data. Americans received an average of 144 spam calls in 2020. Of those, 58% were some forms of fraud. Texas was the most targeted state. Dallas, Houston, Austin, San Antonio, and Fort Worth all rank in the top 10 targeted cities.
Scams (calls, texts, emails, and all the rest) are virtually nonstop. But why? Well, because they work! Scam call victims lost an average of $182 last year and Americans collectively lost $19.7 billion in 2020, and that is up from $9.2 billion in 2019. When you get these contacts, the best thing to do is not answer, click on, or reply. Just ignore them and go about your business.
You know what? In many respects temptations are a lot like those pesky and unrelenting spam and scam contacts we receive. Whereas the latter come in the form of calls, texts, and emails, the former, according to 1 John 2:16, come in the form of the lusts of the flesh (passions), the lusts of the eyes (possessions), and the boastful pride of life (position). Temptations originate from within us (our sin nature), from outside us (our sinful world), and from beyond us (our sinful adversary, Satan).
The way we must deal with temptation is also the same way we must deal with spam and scam contacts . . . ignore them and don’t respond! But practically speaking, how do we do that?
Let me suggest six ways to deal with temptation from Scripture. First, understand that like with spam, everybody has to deal with temptation (James 1:14-15:4:1) and God promises that when we encounter it, He will provide the way to overcome it, if we depend upon Him (1 Cor. 10:13; Heb. 4:15-16). Second, pray as a lifestyle and when specifically tempted (Matt. 6:13; 26:41; Lk. 11:4; 22:40; James 4:7). Third, memorize Scripture, especially regarding weak areas in your life, and use specific scriptures in times of temptation as Jesus did (Matt. 4:1-11; Lk. 4:1-13; Rom. 12:1-2; Eph. 6:14-18; Phil. 4:8). Fourth, avoid people, places, and circumstances with whom and where you are most tempted (Prov. 7:25; 1 Cor. 15:33; 1 Tim. 6:9). Fifth, remove yourself mentally [in your thoughts] and physically, if possible, from places when tempted (Gen. 39:11-12; 1 Cor. 6:18; 10:14; 1 Tim. 6:11; 2 Tim. 2:22). And sixth, reach out to Christian friends and counselors for prayer, accountability, and encouragement regarding your persistent struggles with temptation (James 5:16; Heb. 10:25).
You don’t have to answer, click on, or reply to spam or scam contacts when they raise their ugly heads. You can ignore them. And even though harder to do so, the same is true of the temptations we encounter. Listen. If you are currently in a private battle with sinful addictions, temptations to which you are routinely succumbing, but you want to overcome them, then don’t give up and don’t get down on yourself! You’re not alone; we all struggle in some and differing ways. If you are a child of God in Jesus Christ, remember that God loves you and nothing changes that, even the sinful habits you are battling. Please confess your sin and need to God and follow the six suggestions above.
If I as your pastor can help, please do not hesitate to contact me. There will be no condemnation, just concern, a listening ear, and a desire to help fellow travelers and strugglers find their way and find rest for their souls.
Hey! We are all in this thing together!