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The Nature Of Temptation

Calvin: Do you believe in the devil? You know, a supreme evil being dedicated to the temptation, corruption, and destruction of man?

Hobbes: I’m not sure that man needs the help.

What is temptation? Often people today think of “temptation” as the desire to have just one more piece of chocolate or maybe the inability to resist a delicious looking dessert. Temptation has been trivialized in our society to refer to impetuously wishing to do something which you think of as naughty but not serious. The Bible refers to temptation very seriously because it views temptation as the desire to oppose the moral law of God in act or attitude.

One more piece of chocolate pie may be a problem for you but does it really compare to the consequences of rebelling against God? Richard Sibbes makes an important point when he writes, “Satan gives Adam an apple, and takes away Paradise. Therefore in all temptations let us consider not what he offers, but what we shall lose.” Temptation offers the illusion of happiness but its consequences yield only everlasting torment.

Yet, all are tempted. Do not be discouraged when this happens, pray that God would hold on to you so that you do not yield and fall. Jesus told his disciples, “Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Matthew 26:41) Once temptation is yielded to, it grows in power. What makes this so difficult for many of us is that we truly don’t want to discourage temptation completely. We deceive ourselves into believing we are in control. We think we can toy with sin as a cat does a mouse; only too late do we realize that temptation is really the cat.

Paul writes, “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13) If you honestly and firmly determine to do your best to avoid temptation and pray with all your heart for God’s deliverance, He is faithful to provide you with the means to stand against Satan’s clever devices.

If you are a Christian, the Holy Spirit of God is living within you to guide and to help you resist the temptation to sin. However, if you are a Christian who often neglects church attendance, reading the Scriptures, and prayer – your resistance will be weak when the trial of temptation comes upon you. Don’t rush to put your hand into the fire and then pray not to be burned, but pray, rather, to have the wisdom to understand fire and keep your hand out of it.

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