We are all tempted on a daily basis. In fact, Jesus himself was tempted by the evil one during his wilderness sojourn (Matthew 4:1-11). When such situations arise, it's important to turn to Christ and ask for the strength to resist temptation, according to evangelist Billy Graham.
The 98-year-old founder of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association shared his thoughts on the issue in his syndicated advice column published February 23.
"I must be the worst Christian in the world," said the unidentified reader. "I really believe in Jesus and I want to do what's right, but every time I get around my old friends I forget all about Jesus and end up following the crowd. How can I stop being so weak?"
Graham first says that God does not want His people to be spiritually weak or to yield to temptation every time it presents itself: The Bible says, "Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes" (Ephesians 6:10-11).
The renowned evangelist reflected on Peter in the New Testament, who denied Christ not once, but three times. However, despite his despicable actions, Peter later became one of the strongest and most courageous Christians the world has ever known.
"Peter realized what he had done, and he repented of it," Graham explained. "Then Peter surrounded himself with other believers, and together they strengthened each other and grew in their faith. Peter also witnessed for Christ and let others know of Christ's love for them."
Like Peter, turn to Christ and ask for His forgiveness and help - and leave negative influences behind. Graham said to take seriously the Bible's admonition in 1 Corinthians 15:3: "Do not be misled: 'Bad company corrupts good character'".
He concludes: "In addition, get involved in a church where you'll hear God's Word and be surrounded by believers who can help you. Also, take your stand for Christ by telling others that you are now a follower of Jesus."
In an earlier devotion, Graham pionted out that when Jesus was tempted in the wilderness, he defeated Satan every time using the Bible.
"All of us are not subjected to the same weaknesses and temptations, he explained. "To one, alcohol may be the temptation; to another, it may be impure thoughts and acts; to another, greed and covetousness; to another, criticism and an unloving attitude. Regardless of what it may be, be sure that Satan will tempt you at your weak point, not the strong."
He added, "When temptations come, let me suggest that you ask God for strength-and also to show you the way He has prepared for your escape. One other word of counsel; be very sure that you do not deliberately place yourself in a position to be tempted."