Our church just began a several week study on temptation. Over the next several posts I will try to give some of the big ideas from these studies. So here goes.
Temptation (defined): to be drawn away and enticed to satisfy one’s needs and desires in ways contrary to, or independent of God and His revealed will.
It’s important to see that temptation is not usually rooted in unlawful desires, but in unlawfully fulfilling legitimate desires. It’s not the desire to be significant that’s wrong. It’s trying to become significant without God that’s wrong. Sexual desire is not wrong. But fulfilling those desires in ways contrary to God’s standards is. Eating food is necessary to life. But food can also become a harmful addiction.
Most “sins” have legitimate needs somewhere in back of them. Temptation involves illicit sources for meeting our needs.
Some facts about temptation:
1.Temptation is not something abnormal. It is common to all. You are not alone. As long as we are in these mortal bodies we will be tempted. This does not mean there is no victory. But it means there is no victory without constant vigilance.2.Temptation itself is NOT sin. Even strong temptation is not sin. We sin when we succumb and act on the tempting thoughts. For instance, having fearful thoughts is not sin. But acting on those fears instead of trusting God is sin.3.God is NOT displeased when we are tempted. He may actually be at work! Most people feel guilty for simply being tempted. This is not true guilt. For instance, recognizing that a man or woman who is not your spouse is attractive is not sin in itself. But crossing over into lust or fantasy is.4.We do NOT overcome all temptation by fleeing from it. While we can flee from many sources of temptation, often we must face it! A person with an addiction to alcohol can (should) stay out of the bar and remove alcohol from his/her home (i.e. “flee from it”). But the same person may have to face the presence of alcohol at legitimate business and community functions (i.e. face it).5.Even well-seasoned, spiritually mature Christians still face temptations. Temptation will always be a challenge in this life. In my early twenties I once asked an 83 year old Minister how old a man had to get before sexual temptations subsided. He looked at me humbly, and sincerely responded, “I don’t know. I suppose I have not gotten there yet.” I realized then that as long as we are in these mortal bodies we must be vigilant to keep ourselves pure.