Should I eat an entire bag of FRITOS at 11:00pm?
Should I lie to get out of something I don’t want to do?
Or, more timely – should I comment on the hurtful, and easily disproven, statement made by a person who labels themselves as “Christian”, on Social Media?
(The answer for all the above – for me, at least – is “No.”)
I don’t really mean to make light of temptation, it can determine the way a person lives…there are some temptations for all of us that seem insurmountable and there are some people for which temptation, and fighting against it, takes over their entire life and being.
“Temptation” noun, a desire to do something, especially something wrong or unwise
If it’s “wrong or unwise” why would we want to do it? For me there are several things that come into play, maybe these are true for you also:
- At the moment I’m thinking of “the moment” and not the long-term effects
- I can easily “grade” the temptation and accept that which is seemingly LESS wrong (for instance, as strange as it may seem, I’m not often tempted to murder…but AM often tempted to sit instead of exercise…or find an excuse to NOT do something I should)
- The enticement of the act appears beautiful and easy (I’m not often attracted to, or enticed to, something that is difficult, stressful, ugly or distasteful)
All of those things are things that I KNOW in my mind…Momentary pleasure isn’t the BEST pleasure, wrong and unwise is still wrong and unwise at ANY LEVEL…especially if temptation turns to something that separates me from, or offends God.
Spiritually, what can we be sure of, when it comes to temptation?
- Everyone is Tempted, and it’s not sin, in itself. Although we may feel guilty about our temptations, the amount of temptation or the constancy…temptation itself is not a sin, everyone (including Jesus…MATT 4:1) is tempted and shouldn’t feel guilty about it
- We are tempted when we are drawn from God’s desires by our own Sure, some things hit us out of the blue, but other times we adjust our vision to see what WE want over WHAT GOD WANTS, which is always better for us and our happiness. (JAMES 1:14)
- God does not tempt us, but He may “test” us. (JAMES 1:13) “Why would God lead me here?” is a question that is sometimes asked…and what about Jesus’ own temptation when the scripture says He was “led by the Spirit” to the wilderness to be tempted. Temptation is sometimes used to “test our mettle” as it was with Jesus, but even Jesus teaches us to pray that we don’t get tested. (MATTHEW 6:13)
- We are never TRAPPED by temptation…though it may seem so. (1 CORINTHIANS 10:13) We are promised that we are not alone in our temptations, no matter what they are, and that our Father will never allow us to be tempted beyond what we are able to bear (SIDE NOTE: this scripture is often misquoted as saying that a person will never receive “more TROUBLE than they can handle”…which is NOT what the scripture – or experience, for that matter – teaches us. This scripture specifically says that we will not be TEMPTED more than we can take).
- Just say, “no” (JAMES 4:7) There’s an easy answer to temptation…it’s the word, “no”. You can say this word to yourself AND to the Tempter (yes, there IS an actual person behind your temptations)
The positive side of TEMPTATION is that perseverance and denial leads to strength, integrity and peace. And the old adage (which I’m certain is in the Bible somewhere, in some form) “If it looks too good to be true, it probably is.” is right and true. Never let your God-given common sense take a back seat to your desire…all desire, and all self-desire isn’t bad, but the more you align yourself to God (“Draw close to Me, and I will draw close to You.” JAMES 4:8) the more you will be able to observe life from a clear perspective…the more you want to be comfortable quickly, the more resistant you will be to God and the more susceptible you will be to temptation.
Remember: when you ARE doing God’s will…you WILL be tempted. That’s a good sign that someone doesn’t want you on the right track…one of my favorite quotes is
“The will of God will never take you to where the grace of God will not protect you. To gain that which is worth having, it may be necessary to lose everything else.” – Bernadette Devlin
Be watchful, be careful, be strong…be well.