Key Scriptures: Joshua 7, Luke 4:1-13, James 1:14, Genesis 3:1-6, John 8:44, 1 Corinthians 10:13, 1 Corinthians 6:18-20, Ephesians 6:10-18, Galatians 5:16, James 4:7, Luke 22:40, 1 Peter 5:8-11, Psalm 119:11, 1 Corinthians 15:33
Guiding Question: How can we avoid sinning when we are tempted?
Optional Introductory Activity: Contact one of your students in advance of this activity to be your accomplice. Bring in a snack that your students love. Try to choose one that will allow you to bring in enough so that you wouldn’t necessarily notice if one or two were missing. If it is something baked, try to bring them fresh out of the oven so they are still warm and the aroma fills the room.
Place them in the room where students will see them as they arrive. Put a small note near them saying something like “Please do not eat. They are set aside for something.” Have the student who is your accomplice (hopefully a great actor!) comment on how good the snack looks. He or she should make comments wondering if the note was really for your students or for random people who might come into the room before your students arrived.
The student should not be too obvious, but should do everything possible to convince students to go ahead and eat one of the snacks – noting you won’t notice if only one or two are missing. Be nearby, so students won’t leave the room, but out of their sightline. Give the “temptor” a few minutes to tempt the other students.
When you enter the room, ask how many students ate one of the treats. Ask how many were tempted to eat one of the treats. If they are willing, have some of them share their thinking process as they decided whether or not to eat the snack.
Lesson: (Questions for students are in bold italics.) Read Joshua chapter 7. The events with Achan occurred right after the fall of Jericho. Evidently, in the chaos after the walls fell, Achan had taken some valuable items that were to have been turned in to Joshua as “devoted” things. At some point it appears, they had also lied about the theft and hidden the items with the rest of their things.
Joshua , however, seems oblivious to what had happened. He sends men on to the next battle, expecting victory as before. When they lose, Joshua is very confused. He questions God about the loss. How does God explain their loss in battle?
Achan had given in to temptation and sinned by stealing the items. That sin led to other sins, as sin often does. Achan’s sin had negative consequences – not just for him, but for the people in battle and even for his own family. Do you think Achan thought about possible consequences when he was tempted to steal the items? What was he probably thinking about when he was tempted to steal.
We can’t help being tempted – it’s basically what Satan does all day. In fact, even Jesus was tempted. Read Luke 4:1-13. What did Satan use to tempt Jesus? Did Jesus give in to the temptation and sin? What did Jesus do to avoid sinning? Jesus used his knowledge of Satan and scripture to help himself resist the temptations and avoid sinning.
God knows temptation is hard to resist. If it were easy, it wouldn’t be called a temptation! Read James 1:14. Each one of you may be tempted by different things. Something that will tempt one of you to sin, but not even be noticed by another one of you for whom that sin isn’t appealing. Temptation is based on your personal desires – the things you want for yourself. There may be godly ways to get some of those things, but Satan wants you to get them in the most ungodly, sinful way possible. So, he makes it look easier and more fun to get them the sinful way. Or he encourages you to want things that aren’t in your best interest.
And Satan is tricky. Read Genesis 3:1-6. How did Satan trick Eve? Why did she believe the lie? Read John 8:44. What does this verse tell us about how Satan operates?
So if temptations are by their very nature tempting to us and if we are also facing one or more of Satan’s lies as we are being tempted, how can we ever avoid sinning?
Thankfully, God has given us a temptation toolbox of sorts to help us when we face temptation. Read the following scriptures to find some of those tools we can use.
- I Corinthians 10:13: What important things do we learn about temptation from this verse? You aren’t the first person to be tempted by this sin. God is faithful – He wants you to resist this temptation. But you still have free choice, so how can God help you? He always provides an escape route for you to avoid being tempted to the point where you find it impossible to avoid sinning. The problem is most of us forget to look for this escape route and take it before it’s too late.
- 1 Corinthians 6:18-20. What is the first advice this passage gives us about avoiding sexual sins? Flee! Don’t just sit there when someone or something is tempting you. Get out of there! Fast! To flee is not thinking about leaving. It isn’t taking a leisurely stroll towards the door. It is running as fast as you can – as if you are being chased by a hungry lion!
- Ephesians 6:10-18. What does this passage teach us about avoiding sinning when tempted? This scripture makes it clear, this is a battle! Satan wants you to sin and leave God. He wants you to go to Hell instead of Heaven. He is willing to fight for your soul. But God is too! He has given you armor to fight the battle with Satan. What are the pieces of armor? What do they represent? How can each help you avoid sin?
- Galatians 5:16. What does this verse teach us? If we walk in the Spirit – listen to the warnings the Holy Spirit gives us, focus on the godly things the Spirit wants us to think about and do, it will be a lot easier to not feel it is so necessary to gratify our desires of the flesh – to sin every time we are tempted. When we take our focus off of us, we aren’t as tempted to believe the world is about us and we should have everything we want in whatever ways it takes to get them.
- James 4:7. What do you think this verse means? We have an example in the temptation of Jesus. Notice what happened after Satan tempted Jesus several times and failed? He left didn’t he? It appears that Satan comes and goes a bit. If we resist his temptations that is. Maybe Satan decides to go away and rethink his strategy and try again later to get us to sin. The Bible doesn’t make it really clear. What it does make clear in this passage though is that if we can resist sinning when tempted, we get some sort of break as Satan flees from us for awhile. Of course the opposite could also be true. If we give in to temptation and sin, Satan may hang around for awhile. After all, he’s been successful this time. Why not keep tempting you since it seems to be working so well?
- Luke 22:40. What clue does this verse give us? While this is addressed to specific people, it like many things in the Bible is also true for us. We can pray for God to help us avoid temptation.
- 1 Peter 5:8-11. What does this passage tell us to do? Have you ever seen a movie where there were watchmen on guard? They stay awake while others sleep. They watch while others are distracted. They are looking for the first signs of any danger, so they can warn everyone to be prepared. God wants you to be watchful. Be on the lookout for situations or people who will tempt you. Avoid them and if you can’t avoid them, be prepared with one of your other tools to avoid sinning. Sometimes we are more vulnerable to temptation, because it surprises us. We weren’t prepared to fight against it, so we fall for it much easier than if we had been prepared.
- Psalm 119:11. What does this verse say will help us? Did you know memorizing scriptures can help you avoid sinning when tempted? Jesus used that tool very well. Why memorized? Because in the moment of temptation, you may not have time to Google to find and read an appropriate verse. If you are tempted to lie though and already have a verse memorized, you can keep saying that verse to yourself until you can find that escape route God has for you to get away from the temptation.
- 1 Corinthians 15:33. What does this verse remind us about temptation and sin? If you are constantly hanging out with people who tempt you to sin, you will probably sin at some point. It’s hard to be tempted constantly by your friends and resist. In fact so hard, that this verse tells us if we hang out with ungodly people we will become corrupted ourselves. If your friends keep tempting you, it’s probably time to start looking for some new friends.
Avoiding sin when we are tempted is hard. That’s why Jesus died for our sins – so we could have forgiveness when we do sin. But God expects us to avoid sin – not just count on grace to cover it – and sin any time we want. God gives you tools to avoid sinning when tempted, but you have to use them. If not, you are starting down a tough path with lots of negative consequencs.
Skills Activity: Review the basic principles from the lesson. On some sort of board or large paper capture all of the strategis from the lesson on ways to avoid sinning when tempted.
Give the students various scenarios that might happen in their lives. Have them brainstorm as many ways as possible to get out of each scenario without sinning. Encourage them to think about what they would say as well as what they would do. As students become more comfortable, encourage them to create tough scenarios for the class to “solve”.
You may want to capture all of the student responses and develop a document to give them with all of the strategies for avoiding sin when tempted. Give them the strategies on paper as they will be more likely to keep them and see them again from time to time. Encourage them to put some of their favorites in their phones or some other accessible place. Challenge them to memorize a few key verses they can remember when tempted.
Application Challenge: Find another story in the Bible where someone was tempted. Did they give in to the temptation and sin? If they didn’t, what strategies did they use? If they sinned, what could they have done to ignore the temptation? What strategies did you need to add to your life for when you are tempted? Try using them the next time you are tempted to sin.