5 observations about temptation and what they say about God and us.
- They don’t come from God
- They lead us away from God
- They give birth to sin
- They deceive
- They are common
Firstly, temptations are as common as weeds in a garden. You can pull them up, but you’re inevitably going to see another one soon. They are common, not only in how often they happen but in who they happen to. 1 Corinthians 10: 13. Paul says “no temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it”.
1. The problem with temptation is sometimes we blame God and others for it and say I wouldn’t have done this if God hadn’t put it there first – case in point ‘Adam and Eve’ when he had eaten the apple and God found them hiding in the garden said words to the effect that “This woman YOU put here with me told me to eat.” You put her here God.
2. Temptation itself is not a sin. Jesus was tempted and he was without sin. We must acknowledge that temptation works in conjunction with our will to lead us to sin. And as you may already know, God cannot abide sin because he is holy. This is why we associate the truth that God is unchanging, with the truth that he does not tempt us. God cannot do anything that would detract from his own glory. If God had one thought or one deed that detracted from his glory he would be guilty of the very thing we are guilty of, that is to be guilty of departing from God’s will. Imagine if we tried to change the chemical composition of water from h2O to H2P or H1O, it would cease to be water and it is the same with God, if he tried to change part of him and his glory, he would cease to be God.
3. Remember that the wages of sin is death and a thought to consider is when we think we have a harmless temptation, it can unfortunately lead us to exchange the truth of God’s glory for much lesser things.
4. The deceptive part of temptation is that it seeks to distort what God has called good, that which should bring God the most glory. It seeks to distort created things and make them ultimate things. In the 21st century, we put feelings ahead of obediance and can sometimes turn our desires into idols. Even the mighty can fall, just look at the story of David and Bathsheba.
5. The problem we have as people is not that we are tempted. It is that we actually desire the evil that is tempting us. Adam wanted the apple more than he wanted God. David wanted Bathsheba more than he wanted the Lord. Only Jesus was able to turn down the temptations of the deceiver (Satan – the father of lies). He could triumph, not just because he was God, because we know that he was also a person like us. He triumphed because he desired God and his will above anything else. His heart and God’s heart, his will and God’s will were one. When you see the totality of Jesus’ life and all his decisions you see how truly remarkable it is that he is said to be WITHOUT sin. That means there was never a moment that his and His Father’s will were not one.
Finally, the only way to combat the tempter, the deceiver, is through the victory won for us at the cross. Cultivate a heart that is in love with your savior. You must love Jesus more than you love anything in this world. The new heart has already been given to you. This is not another command of the law being given to you. This is an invitation to encounter the living God your creator. To be wrapped up in his love. He chose to give us birth through the word of truth. Respond to that truth with joy. Joy that causes you to take pleasure in the gift giver more than the gift itself. This kind of heart and mind will prevail in the truth over temptation. The truth for you is that God has given you a new birth, a new life, and a new heart. Walk in the truth. God bless you.