Importance of Tracking Temptation
Importance of Tracking Temptation
In previous blogs we have looked at confession to God and others. We have looked at what role a mentor or sponsor or accountability plays. We have looked at the concept of a sexual sin inventory, as well as a 30 day media fast. We have challenged you to have an “Escape Plan” when tempted, etc.
In this blog, we will look at the importance of tracking our temptation so we can grow in our own self-awareness of when and how we are tempted. We will also look at heart, meaning what are those negative emotions that leave us vulnerable to lust, pornography, etc. The hope is that you will see how Jesus wants to heal your heart and meet you in the midst of those negative emotions.
Temptation Tracker (overview)-
We must remember that we are not just in the business of behavior modification. We want Jesus to transform our hearts! This is why the Temptation Tracker is so important. The Tracker can be very useful in helping me determine what is really going on in my heart.
-Assignment: Create a 30 day calendar. For 30 days, track when temptation strikes.
Temptation Tracker (more details)-
First, let me explain the tracker:
Temptation Tracker (created by Doug Hutchins, used with permission)
Assignment: Create a 30 day calendar. For 30 days, track when temptation strikes.
Tracking Details: If you DO NOT encounter idolatry temptation, then place a √ on the corresponding calendar day. If you DO encounter temptation, then do the following:
Time: record when temptation strikes (looking for a specific time)
Location: where were you when it happens (bed room, living room, etc.)
Feeling: how were you feeling when temptation hit (Bored, Lonely, Afraid, Angry, Stressed, Sad, Shame, Tired, etc.)
Questions to Answer Regarding Tracker
1.What were the most common days that temptation struck?
2.What were the most common times (be specific)?
3.What was the environment like - where were you? Were you alone?
4.What were the most common emotions?
5.What devices were you tempted with—cell phone, home computer, laptop, ipad, etc? What device was the most tempting?
Example 1: You may determine that you are tempted every night before you go to bed. This will help you know to go to bed without any devices near by. You can do your 30 min plan right before bed, and you can contact who is holding you accountable and ask them to pray.
Example 2: You may discover your primary point of temptation is your phone. Maybe the best thing to do is get rid of your smart phone and get something simple like a flip phone. Yes, that’s radical, but Jesus tells us if our eye causes us to sin then to gouge it out or if our hand causes us to sin, then to cut it off.
Example 3: My issue was anger. I was really battling anger almost every time I was tempted to lust and look at porn. What does that show? It shows I really don't have a lust problem, but that I have an anger problem. My anger issue was impacting my lust. I wasn't dealing with my anger so I was bowing down to porn. I did not need to modify my behavior and be more pure. I needed God to deal with the anger in my heart. I needed to know my own forgiveness and be able to give that forgiveness away to others. Once I understood that, it really reduced how often I was tempted to lust.
Don't misunderstand me. I was still tempted and am still tempted. Behavior modification is not wrong. It is just incomplete. We must retrain our brains in how to respond to idolatry temptation. We must change our behavior, but long term behavior change only happens if I look at my heart. The reason I love the Temptation Tracker is because it helps with both.
You can apply this tracker to anything (video games, eating, fantasy football, social media, movies, shopping, overworking, etc). I am sure I am leaving some out, but you get the idea. None of the things I just mentioned are sinful unless I make an idol out of them. Some things are explicitly sinful like porn, etc.
I am so thankful I had the chance to meet Doug Hutchins so he could show me this tool. I hope it is as helpful to you as it has been to me and so many others.
My point is this: Ask the Lord if there is an area of idolatry where you struggle. If he reveals one to you, then utilize the tracker for 30 days and see what God reveals to you about your heart.
Going after the heart is so important!!! When my two mentors helped me with my pornography battle, they helped me with one fundamental truth. There was a heart issue behind my idolatry struggle. I could not see this. I was blind to the real issue.
The following is me pigging back on top of what we just looked at with the temptation tracker.
Remember this - Feeling: how were you feeling when temptation hit (BLAST)
If I'm BORED, I might lack purpose. I may need to see life as worship and spend myself for the needy. (Colossians 1:15-16 & Isaiah 58:6-12)
If I'm LONELY, I may need to see how Jesus can meet my aloneness need, and it might be helpful to know that Jesus battled loneliness too. (Psalm 88 & Matthew 26:36-46)
If I'm ANGRY, I need to receive God's forgiveness for my sin and give that forgiveness away to those who have wronged me. (Ephesians 4:32)
If I'm AFRAID, I need to experience God's perfect love. (1 John 4:18)
If I'm SAD, I need to experience God's comfort. (2 Corinthians 1:3-4)
If I'm STRESSED, I need to learn how to trust in God and God alone. (Proverbs 3:5-6)
If I feel SHAME, I need to know that Jesus covers my shame with His righteousness, and I need to experience this truth about my identity in Christ. (2 Corinthians 5:21)
If I'm TIRED, I need to either experience rest for my soul (Matthew 11:28) or physical rest by just going to bed (Lamentations 3:22-23)
We must remember to look at issues of the heart, not just behavior. This temptation tracker is a tool that helps us look more deeply into our temptation patterns. It might help us see what days of the week and times of day really tempt us the most. It might even reveal some negative emotions I’m not letting Jesus meet me in. If Jesus meets me in those difficult emotions, He can heal the heart.
This concludes our Getting Started Blog Series. Like we have mentioned, the goal is to do all of the “Getting Started” tips in 30 days or so. A great tool to help you with this is cravefreedom.com.
Following the Getting Started Blog series, we will pick up right where we left off with BLAST. We will take a more in depth look at the negative emotions that potentially could lead us to lust.
Must Remember: Idolatry or sexual sin struggle or pornography is not the real issue. We must learn how to take our burdens to Jesus (Matthew 11:28-30), and we must learn how to see our identity in Christ (Ephesians 1:3-14). This does not happen in 30 days. It is a process and takes time.