“And don’t let us yield to temptation, but rescue us from the evil one.” – Matthew 6:13.
In Surprised by Joy, C. S. Lewis surveys the state of his own heart and finds “a zoo of lusts, a bedlam of ambitions, a nursery of fears, a harem of fondled hatreds.” Although we may not express it in such terms, we all face similar temptations, weaknesses, and struggles.
The raw fact is that Christians throughout church history have done battle with temptation. Many people have gone to great lengths isolating themselves from others with the hopes of never being tempted. But unless you find a way to be completely isolated, you will be tempted.
There is a powerful verse that will help us as we wrestle with temptation. That verse is Hebrews 4:15: “ This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin.” Think about that for a second. It says Jesus was tempted as we are. That is a powerful verse. Jesus was tempted. It changes how we should look at temptation.
Temptation is something we face every day. TV commercials and print advertisements are designed to thrive on temptation. They want to play on your desires in order to convince you that you need something by tempting you. For the average person, 99 percent of the advertisements mean nothing to you; they go in one ear and out the other because you aren’t interested. However, over 1 percent makes a connection. The product or service appeals to you. When you accept the lure of those advertisements that is temptation as James describes it. James 1:14 says, “Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away.”
What James is saying is that temptation is a lure. We are being lured all day long by temptation. Temptation is not a sin. You don’t have to feel guilty about temptation. Temptation simply means you are human. Remember, Jesus was tempted. Yet, Hebrews 4:15 also tells us Jesus didn’t sin. It’s not temptation that is wrong, it’s what you choose to do with it that matters. It’s not until we give in to the lure that we will be captured by sin. In that moment of temptation, you also have a great opportunity to show what you value; the world or Jesus. Temptations are battlegrounds to demonstrate what our heart desires. The key to fighting temptation is not only to avoid the temptation but to desire Christ above everything else.
Know that if you give in to temptation, the Lord still loves you. God knows you aren’t perfect, and God still wants you near Him. Know God’s grace is new for you every morning. Lamentations 3:22-23 says, “The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning.”
- How do you protect yourself from the lure of temptation?
- What can you do this week to escape the lure of temptation?