Have you ever loved and hated something, at the same time?
Take the subject of temptation… is it a good thing or a bad thing? Well… Yes! There are some who believe that the best way to get rid of temptation is to give in to it. I suspect that all of us, at one time or another, has given into temptation. And what’s worse, high stakes and painful consequences would be thought of as an effective deterrent *not* to give in, but, more times than not, that hasn’t proved to be the case… we often fail, again and again.
One thing for sure… Scripture has a lot to say about temptation, so we shouldn’t be surprised when it comes our way. If Satan, had the unmitigated gall, to tempt our Lord and Savior, what makes you think that he wouldn’t do whatever he can to tempt us? Unfortunately, the Scriptures do not tell us that we won’t be tempted after we come to the Lord. In 1 Peter 5:8, Peter warns us that “Like a lion, your adversary, the devil, prowls around looking for someone to devour.” And don’t you find that temptation seems to happen more when we’re tired, feeling stressed or alone, or when we’re away from home?
I’ve often thought that isolating myself from every temptation would render a successful outcome. That might be the case if I was an alcoholic and deliberately stayed away from the bars. However, I believe that the victory is not in avoiding the spiritual assault, but rather, through working the resources of the Holy Spirit, by claiming victory, in the midst of the temptation! Romans 12:21 states “Be not overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” But as quickly as the temptation comes, it can leave us! Matthew 4:11 reads that Satan left Jesus and the angels attended Him. Satan and the spiritual forces of wickedness are relentless! For those of us not currently in a season of temptation, we’re about to be, so be prepared!
C. S. Lewis reflected on temptation by stating “No man knows how bad he is, until he has tried very hard to be good… only those who try to resist temptation know how strong it is.” We’re really never that spiritual that we become impervious to temptation! The sad part of temptation is that it slips into our lives… slowly at first, but then with increased frequency and intensity. Until one day, we wake up, and find that there isn’t enough room for both Satan and Jesus in our lives… and too often, it’s Jesus that is asked to leave!
So… is there an ‘up’ side to this whole temptation controversy? Actually, as true Christians, temptation allows us test our convictions. Deuteronomy 8:2 eludes to the concept that our convictions are only as strong as when they hold up under pressure. True obedience can never fully be tested until there is a chance to disobey! To that end, temptation is never meant to weaken us, but rather to strengthen us from the encounter. Temptation helps us to see how we will respond when pressure is applied… how we will answer the question when asked, and how we will respond to the event when it occurs. What is important is to remember that temptation is only a question, waiting for an answer. Our response to the temptation becomes the answer!
Heavenly Father… as Peter reminds us in Your word “These trials have come so that your faith, of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire, may be proved genuine, and may result in praise, glory, and honor”, please keep us strong enough to fight the good fight as there are so many opportunities to be tempted. ALL around us, Lord, the battle against You rages on. Please help us to be aware of temptation and please send your Holy Spirit to give us supernatural strength and self-control to resist all the forces of darkness. We ask that you guard our minds and our hearts… in Jesus’ name… Amen!
gstefanelli (Greg Stefanelli)