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 Vol. 3, No. 8 

Page 12

August, 2001

What Is Temptation?

By Mark Weaver

Temptation is the process by which man is lured away from godly behavior. In the world in which we live, temptation is absolutely everywhere. We are tempted by inappropriate dress, inappropriate use of our time and inappropriate feelings. In short, we are tempted by the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life.

How then does temptation actually work? The Bible tells us in James 1:13 that God does not tempt man. If this is the case, then why are we tempted? Why do we seek to do that which is contrary to the will of God? To put it simply, man is tempted by his own desires (James 1:14). The Bible also tells us that sin is pleasurable for a season (Hebrews 11:25). Like many things in our world, the temptation to sin is usually accompanied by a denial of its eventual cost. The Bible says that sin leads to death (James 1:15). How much easier it would be to resist temptation if every time we were in danger of sinning, a little warning would go off "Danger, danger, death ahead!" While this is an amusing imagination, the truth is we must train ourselves to have this very reaction. We need to understand how we are tempted to sin so we can better resist it. James 4:7 says that the devil will flee from us when we resist him. This promise from God is very precious in that it shows us that not only will Satan flee from us, but that it is possible for us to resist him.

One of the great questions about temptation is, "why?" Why is man tempted? As we have already said, it is not God that tempts man. Why then does the devil tempt us? Just as the devil desired Simon Peter in Luke 22:31, so he also desires us today. Satan has been our accuser for lo, these many years. In the same way that he brought destruction on Adam and Eve with the deceitfulness of sin, he seeks to do the same to us today. He does this in a very subtle way. The Bible tells us that Satan and his angels can transform themselves into angels of light. We can see this in the world today; people who live contrary to the will of the Lord (adulterers, homosexuals, etc.) try to portray themselves as having the moral high ground.

You will notice that if you see a homosexual character on television, he or she is almost always portrayed as kind and loving and in all ways superior to those judgmental people who say they are doing something wrong. This is nothing new, but only Satan seeking to give another temptation to yet the next generation of society through the deceitfulness of sin.

Temptation also has a positive aspect for the Christian. First Peter 1:6-7 shows us that temptation is a method of refining our faith. That is, temptation helps us to grow as Christians. This is the exercising of our faith; just as the exercising of the body produces a stronger body, so also the exercising of our faith produces a stronger faith. Temptation also produces endurance. James 1:2-4 shows us that we should be happy when temptation arises because it tries our faith, and by trying our faith, it increases our endurance or our ability to resist temptation. Strong, growing Christians are not produced by the absence of temptation, but by resisting it. Temptation keeps the Christian humble. As we grow as Christians, we need to remember that temptation still comes to us just as it comes to the man who was baptized last night. Even the apostle Paul suffered temptation through his thorn in the flesh that served to keep him humble (2 Corinthians 12:7).

Happily, we are to be judged by Jesus Christ who was tempted in all points like as we are, yet without sin. Jesus will be our Judge. Immediately after his baptism, he went into the wilderness, there to be tempted by the devil. He was offered the same things we are offered: the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life. And yet, he did not sin. When we appear before the judgment bar of Christ, we will not be able to say, "Well, Lord you do not understand," because he lived among us.

In conclusion, although man can be drawn away by his lusts and enticed, God is faithful and he will not allow us to be tempted above what we can bear, but along with the temptation will make the way out that we can endure it (2 Corinthians 10:13). God has given us the victory through his son, Jesus Christ, so that we can have the hope of a home in Heaven with him. Second Peter 2:9 tells us that the Lord knows how to deliver the Godly from temptation. We then, as Christians, should think on the precious promises that the Lord has given us that we are able to resist temptation.

Copyright 2001 Louis Rushmore. All Rights Reserved.
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