Pastoral Temptation

May I remind you of four of the most powerful perils that can level even the mightiest? They are fortune, fame, power, and pleasure. Each works overtime to win a hearing, to gain a foothold, to woo us in. Not even pastors are immune to these temptations.

Whether subliminal, subtle, strong, or supreme, these messages search for chinks in our armor as they appeal to our natural appetites. “Get rich!” (fortune). “Become known!” (fame). “Gain control!” (power). “Be satisfied!” (pleasure). Each of these attractive snares invites our attention, holds out a juicy carrot, makes beautiful promises; yet, each is an enemy always crouching and ready to plunge.

Being masters of deceit, these messages employ one favorite method throughout our lives—temptation.

Let me mention a very practical thing about temptation. I have found that if I can stop the process fairly early, I’m safe. But if I leave my hiding place and venture toward the bait, there is a point of no return. I cannot turn around. If I go that far, I’m sunk.

So how can we have victory over temptation? First, our natural focus must be counteracted. Openly confess your weakness to a trusted friend. Hide nothing. Use Scripture memory to replace sensual thoughts with spiritual thoughts.

Second, our leisure time must be guarded. Cultivate a plan, perhaps an exercise program, an intensive reading program, a hobby, a series of practical projects to occupy your time. (You might even brush up on your Hebrew or Greek.) Watch out for those movies! If necessary, keep the television off. And stay away from any activity on the internet that has no accountability.

Third, our close companions must be screened. Take a good look at your circle of friends. Do an honest evaluation of those with whom you spend personal time. I can offer you a principle you can bank on: until you clean up your companionships, you’ll never clean up your life.

Fourth, our vow to God must be upheld. Just as jealously as we would guard the marriage vows, we’re to guard our promises to God and our commitment to purity.

Excellence—moral, ethical, and personal excellence—is worth whatever it costs. Pay the price. Start today!

Nothing less will ever satisfy you or glorify God.


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4 thoughts on “Pastoral Temptation

  1. Chuck,
    Thank you so much for your life and ministry as unto the Lord, you have been a real blessing to me and many others. Just one thought as a fellow pastor of a number of years, could you give some biblical input for your excellent ideas?

  2. I am confused about how much time is acceptable to spend with unsaved people or others who may not believe exactly as we do. I have friends all in different spiritual states: unsaved, Christians in ‘faith crisis’; Christians from my own church (more likely to share common beliefs) and from other churches. I know I need to be grounded in the Word and also believe I should befriend others who don’t know Christ. And I do mean ‘befriend’ – really like them even where they’re at – not just with the intention of converting them. Do you have thoughts to share on this topic?

  3. Kika,
    Chuck did a great series a couple of years ago with Greg Laurie that addresses some of what you’re asking. You can listen to those messages free at:
    “No Compassion–No Harvest”
    “Interview: Chuck Swindoll and Greg Laurie”
    IFL also produced a book to accompany the series, “Passion for the Gospel”:
    I hope this helps.
    God bless.

  4. Hi, Rick,
    For a fuller treatment on Chuck’s teaching from the Scriptures on temptation—you might check out IFL’s broadcast library. Particularly note that you can search Chuck’s messages by Scripture reference. I looked, and while there isn’t anything on Genesis 3, Chuck does have content on 2 Samuel 11. It’s totally free for you to listen:
    Chuck also has many articles on-line that deal with practical issues, such as temptation:
    If you’re looking for a few good in-hand resources, you might consider:
    Cultivating Purity in an Impure World (excellent resource on sexual purity)
    Also Chuck’s classic works on David and Joseph:
    I hope this helps. May God powerfully bless your ministry, Rick.