The What and Why of Temptation
Be Strong, Be Well — Saturday, August 22
Temptation is the process by which all of us are lured away from righteous and godly behavior. Temptation is everywhere, and comes in all forms, because it originates with Satan. He doesn’t sleep (1 Peter 5:8). He never stops trying to pull us away from God’s ways by appealing to the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life (1 John 2:16).
James tells us temptation works by the appeal to our own desires. This is why he also says God is not the one who tempts us. In His perfect holiness and purity He is incapable of tempting us with evil (James 1:13-15).
Each one of us is drawn away, lured, and enticed by our own desires or lusts. We’re looking for the satisfaction or pleasure associated with the particular enticement. We end up getting trapped or ensnared. This is sin, and sin condemns with spiritual death. And to think just how very temporary that satisfaction is (Hebrews 11:25).
Christians must recognize what temptation is, and how it works, to avoid getting caught up in it. By the very nature of temptation we know it can be resisted. “Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you” (James 4:7). When we think about Satan running away from us, we should be motivated to stand up to him.
“You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4).
So why does the devil tempt us? It’s because he hates God and righteousness. He became our adversary a long time ago to try and destroy God’s creation of humanity —the very ones made in His image. He is subtle and deceptive. He can even transform himself into something that appears godly.
“And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works” (2 Corinthians 11:14-15).
We take great comfort in knowing Jesus Christ was tempted in every way we are tempted, yet He never sinned (Hebrews 4:14-16). Because of this He became our High Priest who sympathizes with our weaknesses and helps us now when we’re tempted. “Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”
We will be tempted until we leave this world. But God is faithful and he will not allow us to be tempted above what we can bear. Plus, along with the temptation He will make a way to endure it (2 Corinthians 10:13). Although we will not always resist (1 John 1:8-10), we thank God we have Jesus Christ and His blood to forgive us, and help us to get back on track.
“The Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations and to reserve the unjust under punishment for the day of judgment” (2 Peter 2:9). —Chris