Friday, June 7, 2013
Temptation: What Say Ye? Yah or Nay?
1. the act of tempting or the state of being tempted especially to evil; enticement
2. something tempting; a cause or occasion of enticement
Temptation is the desire to perform an action that one may enjoy immediately or in the short term but will probably later regret for various reasons: legal, social, psychological (including feeling guilt), health-related, economic, etc. In the context of religion, temptation is the inclination to sin. Temptation also describes the coaxing or inducing a person into committing such an act, by manipulation or otherwise of curiosity, desire or fear of loss.
1 Cor 10:13 (NIV)
"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".
The Scriptures speak of three kinds of "trouble" for the believer:
1) Discipline, judgment, or rebuke from the Lord;
2) tests, trials, persecutions, suffering; and
3) temptations or attacks from Satan.
So when trouble comes, what type is it? Is this God directly moving to correct me, or is this the promised persecution for following Christ, or have we allowed Satan access into our lives? Which kinds of trouble can be avoided? Which can't?
We all face temptation, it's an unavoidable part of life. The question is not, "Will you be tempted?" The question is, "When you're tempted, will you be ready?"
In your own strength and by your own ability, You can't. But when you put God's Word in your heart, when you lean on His strength and trust in His promises, there's no temptation you can't overcome.
Over the years, I've noticed five things that make all the difference in overcoming temptation.
First, you've got to be wise. Think about the choices you're making and the consequences before you make them. Wisdom looks ahead.
Next, you have to believe that you can resist temptation. Condemnation, guilt and shame work off of momentum, if you stop them early, they lose their power, but once they get rolling, they're hard to stop.
Third, think of facing temptation as normal life. If you're expecting a fight, you'll always be ready.
Fourth, avoid areas of weakness. Don't put yourself in situations where you can easily fall. If you struggle with managing your money, don't go to the mall when you can't afford to buy anything!
And finally, don't give yourself too much credit. We don't graduate from being tempted. It's so easy to think you've matured beyond stumbling, and once that happens, you make yourself an easy target.
God wants you to trust Him to bring victory in every area of your life. By His grace, you can!
God Tests. Satan Tempts.
Why Does God Allow Temptation?
As long as man is in the flesh, he is in the place of testing. After surveying the Old Testament Scriptures where the Hebrew words nasah (to prove) and bachan (to try) occur, a noted Hebrew scholar wrote:
"A consideration of these passages leads to the conclusion that the various evils and struggles and difficulties which are prompted from within, or which befall man from without, are ordered by God as part of the great system of probation or testing to which every child of Adam is being subjected. The agency of the Evil One is permitted for the purpose of bringing a man into that sort of contact with evil which will serve to test his real principles."
This probation can be seen in that man is continually being tested by God and tempted by the Devil. "2 My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; 3 knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience" (James 1:2-3). Just as schools have their final examinations, mankind awaits God's Final Judgment, where the Righteous will receive their final reward at the Bema Seat, and the Wicked will obtain their just punishment at the White Throne.
Thus we see that the Father does lead His people into situations of testing, for the purpose of refining, "to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep His Commandments, or no... that He might humble thee, and that He might prove thee, to do thee good at thy latter end" (Deuteronomy 8:2,16). Though Satan's purpose in tempting us is our sinning, the Father's purpose in our testing is that we might be perfected.
Each choice of man has the opportunity of praising God, when he passes his trial of faith. "That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ" (1Peter 1:7).
It is a grave mistake for the Saints to conclude that their trials were something out of the ordinary that were not supposed to happen. "Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you" (1Peter 4:12). It should not come as any surprise to the Saints of the New Covenant that God has been testing all along our love for Him. "The LORD your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul" (Deuteronomy 13:3).The result of God's testing of the Righteous is that they are confirmed in holiness.
God's proving of man is not to satisfy God's lack of knowing in advance what man will do, but that the moral process of choosing may be completed, to glorify God through man's passing of the test, and to justify God through His Judgment of those who give in to temptation. We need to respond to our testings with confidence that He Who allows these tests, will also CAUSE us to triumph by His Strength, and "deliver us from evil" (Matthew 6:13). "My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations... Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the Crown of Life, which the LORD hath promised to them that love Him" (James 1:2,12).
Physical testings are a joyful bond that we share in common with our Saviour and Deliverer, our LORD Jesus. "Always bearing about in the body the dying of the LORD Jesus, that the Life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body" (2Corinthians 4:10).
The Apostle Paul wanted us to keep "looking unto Jesus the Author and Finisher of our faith; Who for the joy that was set before Him endured The Cross, despising the shame" (Hebrews 12:2). And soon, our Reward, Who victoriously "is set down at the right hand of the Throne of God" (12:2), will greet us "face to face" (1Corinthians 13:12), and by His side we evermore shall stay. "21:3 And I heard a great voice out of Heaven saying, Behold, the Tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be with them, and be their God... 22:3 And there shall be no more curse: but the Throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and His servants shall serve Him: 4 And they shall see His face; and His Name shall be in their foreheads. 5 And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the LORD God giveth them Light: and they shall reign FOR EVER AND EVER" (Revelation 21:3; 22:3-5).
No man knows how bad he is till he has tried very hard to be good. A silly idea is that good people do not know what temptation means. This is an obvious lie. Only those who try to resist temptation know how strong it is. You find out the strength of a wind by trying to walk against it, not by lying down. A man who gives in to temptation after five minutes simply does not know what it would have been like an hour later. We never find out the strength of the evil impulse inside us until we try to fight it: and Christ, because he was the only man who never yielded to temptation, is also the only man who knows to the full what temptation means.
You Are Not Alone
1 Pet 5:8-10 Be self-controlled and vigilant always, for your enemy the devil is always about, prowling like a lion roaring for its prey. Resist him, standing firm in your faith, remembering that the strain is the same for all your fellow-Christians in other parts of the world. And after you have born these sufferings a very little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to share his eternal splendor through Christ, will himself make you whole and secure and strong.
Jesus became as human as you and I to prove that we can, like Himself, overcome the Devil and NOT give in to sin. He demonstrated that "man shall not live by bread alone, but by every WORD that proceedeth out of the mouth of God" (Matthew 4:4). With each temptation that the Devil cunningly used to try and ensnare our LORD Jesus, the Record is given to us of the method Jesus used for overcoming the temptations and the Devil-- "It is written", "It is written again", and "It is written" (Matthew 4:4,7,10). God's Word is our Defense, "His Truth shall be thy Shield and Buckler" (Psalm 91:4), and "His Name is called The Word of God" (Revelation 19:13)!
Eph 6:10,13 In conclusion be strong--not in yourselves but in the Lord, in the power of his boundless strength. Put on God's complete armor so that you can successfully resist all the devil's craftiness... that you may be able to resist evil in its day of power, and that even when you have fought to a standstill you may still stand your ground.