Matthew 26 (KJV):
40 And he cometh unto the disciples, and findeth them asleep, and saith unto Peter, What, could ye not watch with me one hour? 41 Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.
A friend of mine writes books about family matters, one of his quotes is ‘peer pressure is only as strong as family identity is weak.’ (Gary Ezzo)
Peer pressure is an external emotional pressure that works to get you to conform to a certain line of thinking or behavior. Its pack mentality; go with the crowd. The bigger the crowd the stronger the influence. Gravely, negative behavior has come about in kids from great families because peer pressure won.
A family must create or discern its own identity and develops its own ‘family pressure’. If there is buy-in by most or all of the members then a sufficient offset to peer pressure exists. It’s really a battle between two different mindsets- the family vs. the peer crowd. It’s two different crowds. It’s two different directions. It’s two different sets of values.
If a child spends more time with their friends than with their family the influence of their friends will be strengthened. If they spend more time with their family then they will find family values and ideas to be more acceptable.
So you have to believe in the set of values you follow. It helps if you are around others who also believe in those same values, so you can successfully live out those values in your life.
Now Jesus said to watch and pray so that you won’t fall into temptation. Can you see how you will be stronger against temptation if you spend time with God in prayer? You will be influenced with His values, His desires, His ways. As you get to know Him better the influence and ways of the world become more and more distasteful. Temptation loses its strength. The more time you spend with God in prayer the stronger you will be against temptation. As a matter of fact, temptation becomes a non-issue.
Resisting temptation is easy if you are strongly identified with Jesus. If you identify with being part of God’s family then you know who you are.
Do you know how much I’m tempted to do drugs right now? Zero! Not at all. I’m not around drugs. I don’t hang out with people who are doing drugs, I have no desire for the high that drugs produce. I’m quite happy without them. So there is the freedom from temptation because of the proximity to the temptation.
But when I was in high school, I used to take my guitar and go out behind the school on the other side of a hill and play my guitar for all the kids who were getting high. I never saw them doing the drugs I could just always see that glassy look in their eyes and I noticed their altered state of mind. I was around them a lot. Apparently my guitar playing was quite impressive when they were high. But I can tell you quite honestly that in all that time I was never once tempted to partake in their drugs. I knew who I was, I was regularly reading my Bible, I was constantly praying. I was aware of God’s presence. I also knew who my family was and what they stood for. Actually in my family we used to make fun of people who had to use alcohol or drugs to have a good time. To be quite honest in my young mind, an image had formed through family conversations to the effect that joy was for higher life forms and lower life forms had to use drugs and alcohol to partake of joy. Because of this mindset, right or wrong, I never envied the people who were getting high. I just enjoyed playing guitar for them, because they seemed to enjoy it as well.
So, I want to encourage you that temptation may be quite helpful to you in that it exposes where you may have a weak philosophy about something. Maybe you don’t believe something as deeply as you should. The Devil looks for open doors not solid walls. So go revisit what you believe in the area you are being tempted in. Go find out why you believe what you believe. You might need to fortify something. You might need to strengthen your beliefs so that you’ll be stronger. I guess I’ll have to write more about this later. Be blessed! You can be strong.