Temptation sounds like a bad thing. We know from our personal experiences that it can lead to a heap of trouble. When we are enticed, we often follow. But have you ever considered that temptation, in and of itself, is not a sin? You do not have to give in to the temptation. You do not have to listen to the lie.
A temptation becomes sin when we surrender to our own evil desires. Unless it is enticing, it has no pull. Like a fisherman, the Enemy sets bait, or a trap, in an attempt to lure us to take a bite. But we have a choice. We can leave the Enemy empty-handed and send him packing home. According to James 1:14-15…
“But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.” (emphasis added)
Speaking from my own personal experience, temptation is such a lie. It baits me with, “Yell at your kids and you will feel better.” “Eat a chocolate chip cookie and while you are at it, eat some more. Your cravings are too strong to overcome.” “When you are feeling sad, go shopping and buy a bunch of things you don’t really need. A new outfit will make you feel better about who you are.”
I recently gave in to such a temptation. The long summer hours of hearing children whining hour upon hour got the best of me. I reached my boiling point. And rather than surrendering the moment to Jesus, allowing Him to do a work in my heart…I gave in to the voice which said, “Go ahead and let you child know how they are making you feel. It is all their fault that you are having a bad day.” But you know what? The voice of temptation was wrong. It was a mirage. I ended up feeling 10x worse than I did before losing my temper. Plus, I made my son feel bad and ended up profusely apologizing for my poor behavior.
I had a choice. I could have walked away from the temptation (and would’ve been much better off). Temptation has no power on its own. A sin is born when we allow the evil desire to be conceived.
But here is an interesting twist, which I had never considered before…temptation can be turned around and used for our good. A temptation can open our eyes to the areas we need to work on. It reveals where we are lured. Like a heart echogram, it shows the residual, hidden areas where our flesh is hanging out.
Temptation exposes our flesh into the light so we can hand it over to the Lord. Yes, temptation can lead to sin. However, there is another option. Temptation can lead to freedom as well. A temptation only remains a temptation if it entices you. In other words, what is tempting to me may or may not be tempting to you. God allows us to be tempted to root out our evil desires. He has good as His ultimate goal.
“No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” 1 Cor 10:13
God will not let you be tempted beyond your ability. You see, it is God who ultimately is in charge of what temptations come your way. And if God is in charge, we can know that He will use it for our good. He uses temptation to uproot, expose, identify, and destroy the hold sin has on us. Do not read this the wrong way. God is not the one tempting you. James 1:13 sets the record straight by stating, “Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and He himself tempts no one.” However, it is God who allows temptation to come our way so that we will turn to Him.
When we face temptation, we do have a choice. We can choose to take the easy route, or we can choose to run to God. He always has our best interest in mind. He is on our side. He wants to turn our temptation into something good.
How have you experienced freedom from defeating the lure of temptation? Maybe the craving of food has lost its power over you? Or you no longer are lured to take another drink? Go ahead and share your thoughts below.