When you are in a moment of temptation, it is extremely difficult to think with a long-term perspective. The potential benefits and pleasures of giving into the struggle can become intoxicating. Thinking about temptation with a short-term mindset is a recipe for disaster. The less you consider the future, the more likely you are to give into temptation. But the more you consider the long-term consequences of giving into short-term gratification, the less likely you will be to give in.
This is why Proverbs 29:18 tells us, “Where there is no vision, the people cast off restraint” (BSB). If you lack a context for the way your decisions in the now will affect the future, you will not be restrained by wisdom, but rather, you will be unrestrained in your decisions. You will do what feels good rather than what is good.
Consider the story of the prodigal son. He left home to live a life of sin because he failed to consider the long-term ramifications of such actions. Had he understood how his choices to throw off restraint and live wildly would lead him to one day be starving in a pigstye, he might have made different decisions. Seldom do we actually connect our decisions to pursue short-term gratification with the long-term pain and hardship those decisions will ultimately bring.
The goal of today’s lesson is simple: to help you connect giving into temptation with the pigsty it leads to, and to see how standing strong helps you move toward the life you ultimately want.
First though, we have to tackle a big lie people often tell themselves when they give into temptation. Rarely does the decision to pursue short-term gratification produce immediate consequences in your life. Because of this, it can be tempting to believe that you can sin without consequences. Nothing could be further from the truth. The lie that we can plant the seeds of sin in our lives without reaping the consequences is just that—a lie. Don’t ever confuse the lack of immediate consequences with a lack of consequences. Romans chapter 3 tells us that “the wages of sin is death.” Galatians 6 tells us that “a man reaps what he sows.” James chapter 1 tells us that “sin, when it is full grown, gives birth to death.” All sin eventually leads to death. Period. There are no exceptions. The sooner we get this revelation deep in our hearts, the better.
So with all of that in mind, let’s dive into an exercise that will help you live with greater clarity and vision. A fair warning—this will be an extension of some of the journaling work you did in the first day of this journey—but do not ignore it. You will be going much deeper in a way that should be profoundly helpful. What is this exercise? It’s taking time to intentionally map out where your choices will lead you in the future. When you consider not only the short-term gains, but also the long-term consequences of your actions, you will live with much greater sobriety and make choices that align more consistently with your long-term goals. You will transition from thinking “I can’t be happy without this” to “I can only be happy without this,” a critical shift in belief that everyone who gets free must ultimately go through.
Remember, getting free isn’t just about saying no. It’s about finding a better yes—and that better yes is the life God offers you if you will only follow His lead. It’s not a life without trouble or hardship—but it is one where you are fully alive and step into who He created you to be.
Day 21 Freedom Work
Scripture Reading — Read Proverbs 29 and Galatians 6. Consider the pros and cons of living with a short-term vision vs a long-term vision.
Journaling Exercises — Answer the following questions at length in your journal. Aim to spend at least 15-20 minutes per question and go into as much detail as possible. When you are completed with the two questions below (aim for at least one full page for each question), make sure to come back and read through these journal entries regularly. This will help to cement a new vision in your mind.
- In as much detail as possible, write out all of the negative consequences you are currently experiencing as a result of having given into the specific sin you struggle with. Then, using your imagination, write down in detail what your life will look like 5 years from now if you change nothing. What pain, heartache, and destruction will your sin produce in your life and in the lives of those you love?
- In as much detail as possible, write out all of the benefits you will experience when you make the difficult choices to walk away from your sin. Write out the life you could be living 5 years from now. What impact will five years of consistently making the difficult decisions to leave your sin behind and say yes to something better have in your life? In your relationships? In the way you see yourself? In your vocation/calling? Why do you want this life? What will be required of you to step into it? How will God help you get there?
Prayer — Father, help me to think soberly about the choices I make. It often feels that I have no choice in the matter. The pull of sin and temptation can feel so strong at times—but I know that you always provide me a way out. Help me to see how I can only experience true life by following you. By your Spirit, reveal to me any areas where I am living in deception. Expose the lie that sin has no consequences. Help me to see choices to sin for what they are—steps toward death and destruction. Give me a bigger vision for my life. I want true life, not just temporary relief and pleasure! Build a dream in me for the life that you will lead me into when I partner with the work the Holy Spirit is doing in me. Amen.