Empowered to Fight Temptation and Cope With Discouragement
“You will receive power when the holy spirit arrives upon you.”—ACTS 1:8.
1, 2. What help did Jesus promise his disciples, and why would they need it?
JESUS knew that his disciples in their own strength were not capable of observing all that he had commanded. Considering the scope of their preaching commission, the strength of their opponents, and the frailty of the human flesh, it was clear that they needed superhuman power. Thus, just before his ascension to heaven, Jesus assured his disciples: “You will receive power when the holy spirit arrives upon you, and you will be witnesses of me both in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the most distant part of the earth.”—Acts 1:8.
2 That promise began to have its fulfillment at Pentecost 33 C.E. when holy spirit empowered the followers of Jesus Christ to fill Jerusalem with their preaching. No opposition was able to halt it. (Acts 4:20) “All the days until the conclusion of the system of things,” Jesus’ faithful followers, including us, would be in urgent need of that same God-given strength.—Matt. 28:20.
3. (a) Explain the difference between holy spirit and power. (b) What can power from Jehovah help us to do?
3 Jesus promised his disciples that ‘they would receive power when the holy spirit arrived upon them.’ The terms “power” and “spirit” are distinct in their meaning. God’s spirit, his active force, describes energy that is projected and exerted on people or things to accomplish God’s will. Power, however, can be defined as the “ability to act or produce an effect.” It can lie dormant in someone or something until it is needed to produce a given result. Thus, holy spirit might be likened to the electric current that energizes a rechargeable battery, whereas power is more like the latent energy that is then stored in the battery. The power that Jehovah grants to his servants by means of holy spirit gives each one of us the ability to fulfill our Christian dedication and, when necessary, to resist negative forces that are exerted upon us.—Read Micah 3:8; Colossians 1:29.
4. What will be considered in this article, and why?
4 How is the power given to us by holy spirit manifested? What kinds of actions or reactions might be the result of its influence? As we seek to serve God faithfully, we face numerous obstacles caused either by Satan, by his system of things, or by our own imperfect flesh. It is important that we overcome such obstacles in order to persevere as Christians, share regularly in the ministry, and maintain a good relationship with Jehovah. Let us consider how holy spirit helps us to fight temptation and cope with tiredness and discouragement.
Empowered to Fight Temptation
5. How can prayer empower us?
5 Jesus taught his followers to pray: “Do not bring us into temptation, but deliver us from the wicked one.” (Matt. 6:13) Jehovah will not abandon his faithful servants who make this request. On another occasion, Jesus said that “the Father in heaven [will] give holy spirit to those asking him.” (Luke 11:13) How reassuring that Jehovah promises to grant us this force for righteousness! This, of course, does not mean that Jehovah will prevent us from being tempted. (1 Cor. 10:13) But when we face temptation, that is a time to pray even more intensely.—Matt. 26:42.
6. Upon what did Jesus base his answers to Satan’s temptations?
6 In answer to the Devil’s temptations, Jesus quoted scriptures. God’s Word was clearly in Jesus’ mind when he responded: “It is written . . . Again it is written . . . Go away, Satan! For it is written, ‘It is Jehovah your God you must worship, and it is to him alone you must render sacred service.’” Love for Jehovah and for his Word impelled Jesus to reject the allurements that the Tempter put before him. (Matt. 4:1-10) After Jesus repeatedly resisted temptation, Satan left him.
7. How does the Bible help us to resist temptation?
7 Since Jesus relied on the Scriptures to resist the Devil’s temptations, how much more so should we! Indeed, our ability to resist the Devil and his agents begins with a determination to be acquainted with God’s standards and to adhere to them fully. Many people have been moved to live by Bible standards as they studied the Scriptures and came to appreciate God’s wisdom and righteousness. Indeed, “the word of God” exerts a power that is capable of discerning “thoughts and intentions of the heart.” (Heb. 4:12) The more one reads and ponders over the Scriptures, the more one can gain ‘insight into Jehovah’s trueness.’ (Dan. 9:13) That being so, we do well to meditate on scriptures that deal with our specific weaknesses.
8. Through what means can we obtain holy spirit?
8 In addition to knowing the Scriptures, Jesus could resist temptation because he was “full of holy spirit.” (Luke 4:1) In order to have similar strength and ability, we need to draw close to Jehovah by taking full advantage of all the provisions he has made to fill us with his spirit. (Jas. 4:7, 8) Among these are Bible study, prayer, and association with fellow believers. Many have also appreciated the benefit of maintaining a full schedule of Christian activities, which helps to keep the mind focused on upbuilding spiritual thoughts.
9, 10. (a) What temptations are common in your area? (b) How can meditation and prayer empower you to fight temptation even when you feel tired?
9 What enticements to err do you have to resist? Have you ever been tempted to flirt with someone who is not your marriage mate? If you are not married, have you ever had the urge to accept a date with an unbeliever? When watching television or using the Internet, Christians may suddenly be tempted to view something unclean. Has that happened to you, and if so, how did you react? It would be wise to meditate on how one false step could lead to another and then to serious wrongdoing. (Jas. 1:14, 15) Think about the pain that an unfaithful act would bring to Jehovah, to the congregation, and to your family. A clean conscience, on the other hand, results from maintaining loyalty to divine principles. (Read Psalm 119:37; Proverbs 22:3.) Whenever you face such tests, be determined to pray for strength to resist them.
10 There is something else to remember about the Devil’s temptations. Satan approached Jesus after He had been fasting for 40 days in the wilderness. No doubt the Devil thought that this was a particularly “convenient time” to test Jesus’ integrity. (Luke 4:13) Satan looks for convenient times to test our integrity too. It is vital, therefore, that we keep ourselves spiritually strong. Satan often attacks when he perceives that his target is at its weakest point. So whenever we feel tired or discouraged, we should be more determined than ever to petition Jehovah for his protective help and holy spirit.—2 Cor. 12:8-10.
Empowered to Cope With Tiredness and Discouragement
11, 12. (a) Why do many feel discouraged today? (b) What can empower us to resist discouragement?
11 As imperfect humans, we feel discouraged from time to time. That may particularly be true today because the period in which we live is especially stressful. We are passing through perhaps the most difficult times that mankind as a whole has yet experienced. (2 Tim. 3:1-5) As Armageddon approaches, economic, emotional, and other pressures are mounting. It should not come as a surprise, then, that some find it increasingly hard to fulfill their responsibility to look after and provide for their families. They feel tired, burdened down, worn-out, and even burned-out. If that is true in your case, how can you cope with the pressure?
12 Remember, Jesus assured his disciples that he would give them a helper—God’s holy spirit. (Read John 14:16, 17.) This is the most powerful force in the universe. With it, Jehovah can “more than superabundantly” provide the strength that we need to endure any trial. (Eph. 3:20) By relying on it, said the apostle Paul, we receive “power beyond what is normal,” even though we are “pressed in every way.” (2 Cor. 4:7, 8) Jehovah does not promise to remove stress, but he does assure us that by means of his spirit, he will give us the strength to deal with it.—Phil. 4:13.
13. (a) How has one young person been empowered to cope with a difficult situation? (b) Do you know of similar examples?
13 Consider the example of Stephanie, a 19-year-old regular pioneer. At age 12, she suffered a stroke and was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Since then, she has undergone surgery twice, received radiation treatment, and suffered two more strokes, which left her with limited movement on her left side and limited vision. Stephanie has to save her energy for the things that she considers more important, such as Christian meetings and field service. Yet, she perceives Jehovah’s strengthening hand helping her to endure in many ways. Bible-based publications containing experiences of fellow Christians have uplifted her when she has been downhearted. Brothers and sisters have supported her by sending her letters or by speaking encouragingly to her before and after meetings. Interested people too have shown appreciation for what Stephanie is teaching them by going to her home to receive their Bible instruction. For all of this, Stephanie feels a great debt of gratitude to Jehovah. Her favorite scripture is Psalm 41:3, which she believes has been fulfilled in her case.
14. What must we avoid when we are discouraged, and why?
14 When we are tired or under pressure, we must never reason that the way to deal with stress is to cut back on spiritual activities. That is the worst thing we could possibly do. Why? Because such activities as personal and family Bible study, field service, and meeting attendance are the means by which we receive revitalizing holy spirit. Christian activities are always refreshing. (Read Matthew 11:28, 29.) How often brothers and sisters arrive at meetings feeling weary, but when the time comes to go home, it is as if their energy has been renewed, their spiritual batteries recharged!
15. (a) Does Jehovah promise that he will make life effortless for a Christian? Explain Scripturally. (b) What does God promise us, leading to what question?
15 This is not to say, of course, that the load of Christian discipleship is weightless. It takes effort to be a faithful Christian. (Matt. 16:24-26; Luke 13:24) Nevertheless, by means of holy spirit, Jehovah can give the tired one strength. “Those who are hoping in Jehovah will regain power,” wrote the prophet Isaiah. “They will mount up with wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not tire out.” (Isa. 40:29-31) That being the case, we would do well to ask, What truly is at the root of spiritual fatigue?
16. What can we do to eliminate possible causes of tiredness or discouragement?
16 Jehovah’s Word urges us to “make sure of the more important things.” (Phil. 1:10) Likening the Christian life course to a long-distance footrace, under inspiration the apostle Paul recommended: “Let us also put off every weight . . . , and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.” (Heb. 12:1) His point was that we must avoid needless pursuits, needless weights, that will tire us out. It may be that some of us are simply trying to squeeze too much into already busy lives. So if you often feel tired and under pressure, you might benefit from reviewing how you meet the demands of secular work, the frequency with which you travel for pleasure, and the intensity with which you pursue sports or other leisure activities. Reasonableness and modesty should move all of us to recognize our limitations and keep unnecessary commitments to a minimum.
17. Why may some feel discouraged, but what assurance does Jehovah provide in this regard?
17 It may also be that some among us feel a measure of discouragement because the end of this system of things has not come as soon as we expected. (Prov. 13:12) Any who feel this way, however, can draw encouragement from the words found at Habakkuk 2:3: “The vision is yet for the appointed time, and it keeps panting on to the end, and it will not tell a lie. Even if it should delay, keep in expectation of it; for it will without fail come true. It will not be late.” We have Jehovah’s assurance that the end of this system of things will come right on schedule!
18. (a) What promises give you strength? (b) How will the next article be of benefit to us?
18 Surely, all of Jehovah’s faithful servants long for the day when tiredness and discouragement will be gone, when all alive will enjoy “youthful vigor.” (Job 33:25) Even now we can be made mighty on the inside through the action of holy spirit as we participate in invigorating spiritual activities. (2 Cor. 4:16; Eph. 3:16) Do not let fatigue cause you to miss out on eternal blessings. Every trial—whether caused by temptation, tiredness, or discouragement—will pass, if not immediately, then in God’s new world. In the following article, we will examine how holy spirit empowers Christians to withstand persecution, resist harmful peer pressure, and endure various other adversities.
How Would You Answer?
• How does Bible reading empower us?
• How do prayer and meditation empower us?
• How can you eliminate potential causes of discouragement?
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Christian meetings can invigorate us spiritually