The course of temptation
Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. – James 1:14
13 Let no one say when he is tempted: ‘My temptation comes from God.’ For God himself is untemptable by evil and tempts no one.
14 But temptation comes to each one, because he is lured on and seduced by his own desire.
15 Then when desire conceives, it gives birth to sin, and when sin is full-grown, it gives birth to death.
16 Do not be led astray, my dear brothers and sisters.
The history of temptation and sin began in the garden of Eden. Have you ever wondered how the process of temptation works? C. S. Lewis used his imagination and visualized and explained the art and science of temptation. In The Screwtape Letters, chapter 9, Screwtape an experienced, master demon is mentoring his apprentice Wormwood. Screwtape’s advice is as follows:
Start with some pleasure – if possible one of God’s good pleasures – and offer it in a way God has forbidden. Once the person bites, give less of it while enticing him to want more. Provide “an ever-increasing craving for an ever diminishing pleasure,” until finally we “get the man’s soul and give him nothing in return.”
A temptation is an opportunity to accomplish a good thing in a bad way, out of the will of God (Wiersbe). The world is filled with temptation. The Father warned Cain, and the warning applies to us all.
Genesis what 4:7 Sin is crouching at the door, eager to control you. But you must subdue it and be its master.
Temptation is possible because of our own human weaknesses. All temptations are merely suggestions for satisfying our selfish desires. These desires fall into one of three categories: the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, the boastful pride of life.
1 John 2:16 For all that is in the world – the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life – is not from the Father but is from the world.
Temptation is the desire to place our selfish wants and yearnings before our desire to please the Father. Our uncontrolled desires trap us. Yielding, creates an inexorable downward spiral from desire, to sin, to death.
Each of us is born with a desire for some wrong thing. And, if we deliberately encourage and nourish that desire, it will grow and become stronger and more powerful. Inevitably it will result in sin – and that is the way to death.
REFLECT & PRAY
And though this world, with devils filled, should threaten to undo us,
We will not fear, for God has willed His truth to triumph through us:
The Prince of Darkness grim, we tremble not for him;
His rage we can endure, for lo! His doom is sure, one little word shall fell him (Luther).
Father temptation is in everyday reality. It is so easy to succumb. Strengthen me to be more alert and aware. Give me wisdom in each circumstance to know how to best resist it.
The Father is pure, good, holy, and above temptation. He is not the source of temptation, for temptation is evil and there is no evil in Him.
Humans have the innate propensity to blame others for their problems. In the story of the Fall, Adam blamed his wife, and the Father for giving Eve to him, Eve blamed the serpent, and the serpent did not have a leg to stand on (Lutzer).
James urges us to take personal responsibility for sin and resist it. We are not to meekly fall into the traps and snares that the enemy has laid out.
1 Corinthians 10:13 No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation, he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.
It is not the Father’s desire for us to yield to temptation, but He does not spare us the experience of temptation. The Father does not shield us from the vicissitudes and struggles of life. To grow and mature, we must learn to successfully handle and overcome testings and temptations.
How can we escape?
Hebrews 4:15 For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.
The Lord Jesus Christ has faced and overcome temptation. In the wilderness, He was tempted by the enemy. He successfully resisted him. How? The Lord Jesus Christ had internalized the Word of God. He depended completely upon the Father for strength, endurance, and wisdom. With each challenge regarding the desire of the eyes, the desire of the flesh, and self-aggrandizement and pride of life, He countered by quoting the Word of God.
We learn from the example of the Lord Jesus Christ and follow it. When temptation comes, we need to recognize it for what it is and resist it. The Father has made us A magnificent promise. As we practice what He has told us to do, our ability to recognize, grapple with, and overcome temptation will increase as well.
James 4:7 Submit to God. But resist the devil and he will flee from you.