Temptation to sin is a topic that everyone is familiar with. It’s been said that temptations are the single greatest source of human anxiety. Over the years of visiting with Christians, I can vouch for the fact that succumbing to temptations cause problems of gigantic proportions. All of us are subject to temptation! Even Jesus faced temptation.
“Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am being tempted by God’, for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death.” James 1:12-15
What is sin? Is it just murder, stealing and adultery? No…sin is missing the mark of perfection, God’s holy standard of righteousness. Sin will take you further than you ever wanted to go, cost you more than you ever dreamed you would pay, and keep you longer than you ever thought you would stay. One of the greatest temptations facing a believer is to settle into a spiritual complacency in which we no longer recognize sin in our life.
God allows us to meet difficult circumstances to increase our spiritual maturity and our patience. God never tempts us to sin. The temptations we face are to prove us or test our quality. They are designed to purify us. Jesus was tempted…”yet without sin.” Not until we yield to temptation does it become sin.
I consider 1 Corinthians 10:13 to be one of the greatest verses in the entire Bible. It is one of the first verses I memorized as an adult. I have quoted it frequently, week in and week out, letting it minister to others and myself. I urge you to memorize it and use it frequently, throwing it straight in the face of Satan as God’s promise to you. “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.” 1 Corinthians 10”13
Sin doesn’t just jump right out at us with neon lights and blaring sirens. It moves in subtly and cunningly. A good hunter always prepares his trap with the right bait for the right prey! Satan customizes temptation to lead us away from God. Jesus answer to temptation was to pray and that should be our model too. “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.” (Matthew 6:13) For “The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations.” (2 Peter 2:9a) We will not always succeed in victory over temptations, but when we fail and ask forgiveness, God is faithful to forgive us.
I like this quote from Jim Elliot, the missionary who was martyred for his faith. “Unwillingness to accept God’s “way of escape” from temptation frightens me – what a rebel yet resides within.” Even better is this unknown quote…Unless you have never been tempted, don’t pass judgment on someone who has yielded.