Facing Temptation

Life is temptation. It pursues us through childhood, adolescence, adulthood, all the way up to the gates of heaven. It comes at us at work, it entices us during leisure. It invades our thoughts, our dreams, and even in our prayers.

Yes, God could have created us without the yearning for such behavior, but He chose not to do so, for it is in the very act of temptation that can be used for the greater good.

It is through temptation where we learn of the evil impulses within us and pulls back the curtain on our sinful natures. It humbles us. When we choose to resist, it makes us aware of how reliant we must become on God’s strength as opposed to our own in order to overcome.

James 1:12 teaches us to consider ourselves “blessed” by temptation (which interesting enough is the same Greek word used in the Beatitudes for blessed), because when we resist the trial we will receive the crown of life.

Make no mistake: God is not the author of temptation. He allows it, but does not create it (James 1:13). It is not God’s nature to draw us in to sin. We must look in the mirror for that source. We become tempted when we are dragged away and enticed by our own desires—longings for something other than God, or something more than God has chosen to give us.

Sin is given birth when the temptation is allowed to build into images that become fueled by the desire to fulfill these images. Thus, our minds and emotions have joined forces in a path towards destructive behavior. When we act upon this behavior, sin is committed.

It is in the lingering thoughts where our will needs to be engaged before the action occurs. Temptation itself is not sinful—only in our actions do we give birth to sin. And rest assured, Satan will gladly lead us further down the path away from God if we so allow it.

Search the Scriptures and look at the verses that describe the ways of the devil. The father of lies will invade our thoughts and fuel our own rebellion if we give him a foothold. That is why so many verses depict our battles as spiritual in nature (James 4:7; 1 John 4:4; 2 Corinthians 10:3-5; 1 Peter 5:8-9; Ephesians 6:11-17; Luke 10:19; 1 Corinthians 10:13).

When the urge is upon you, literally fight the battle with the very Word of God. Use a favorite verse of Scripture and boldly proclaim it and meet the temptation head on before it can overwhelm you. We must recognize the power in God’s Word if we are to defeat temptation, just as Jesus modeled for us in the desert.

The better equipped you are, the better your knowledge of God’s Word, will allow you to prevail in times of temptation. He has overcome the world, and as His disciples, we have been given the example of how to do this. However, we first must realize that the power to overcome the world does not rest in our own abilities—we must allow Him kingship over our hearts.

Discipleship, then, becomes the pathway to resisting temptation. Do not neglect your daily study.