What is really happening when we are tempted?
It is not unusual to want to blame the temptations on our circumstances or the people involved in our temptations. But what is really to blame?
It is not unusual to be tempted. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 10:13 that temptations are common to man. It’s also not unusual to want to blame the temptations on our circumstances or the people involved in our temptations. We can think that if the circumstances were different, or if people were different, then I wouldn’t be tempted like this. That is, sorry to say, all too common.
The simple truth of God’s Word tells us otherwise. Outward circumstances can work as a trigger, but the actual temptation is because the sin in our– our lusts or desires – is alive and reacts to the circumstance. It is written clearly in James 1:14: “But everyone is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed.” We cannot blame the others. To do that would be to exalt oneself against the knowledge of God, saying we have no sin. (2 Corinthians 10:5; 1 John 1:8)
Acknowledge the truth
It is absolutely vital that we acknowledge that truth about ourselves if we want to grow in the virtues of Christ. Paul acknowledged that in his flesh, nothing good dwelt, and we must be in the same spirit. So much unnecessary suffering could be avoided if we were to love the truth and live according to it.
In James 4:1-2, James asks the question, “Where do wars and fights come from among you?” He writes that they come from the desires that are in the flesh. Why are there problems between people – co-workers, husbands and wives, brothers and sisters? Because we wish the others would change so things would be easier on ourselves.
The truth of the matter is that we have pride and think more highly of ourselves than we ought, and we place unreasonable demands on the others. Isn’t it because we are full of impatience, stubbornness, and lack longsuffering? If we could acknowledge the truth about our own sin and stop judging the others, but judge and cleanse ourselves from sin, then peace would come over the whole problem. If we continually cleanse ourselves, then thankfulness, patience and longsuffering grow instead. (Colossians 1:10-11) A simple truth and a simple solution to many problems.
Jesus did it first
We have Jesus as our example. He didn’t revile when He was reviled, or threaten when He suffered. He committed everything to God, who judges righteously. (1 Peter 2:22-23) Then He judged what He found in His own flesh.
Paul writes further in 1 Corinthians 10:13, that God will not allow us to be tempted beyond our ability to bear it, and has made a way of escape for us. James also writes to “count it all joy when we fall into various trials.” James 1:2. Our hope is for transformation, which we can only attain if we first see the sin in our flesh, which is exposed when we are tempted. When we see it, then we can overcome it!
When we are tempted it is a vehicle to obtaining of the life of Christ. Instead of becoming anxious, thinking something strange has happened, we can go boldly to the throne of grace to find grace and mercy in our time of need. (Hebrews 4:16) We need to battle through until we come to victory and rest from sin.
The way of escape in temptation
Paul exhorts us to “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God: and the peace of God which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7.
Peter also writes, in the context of humbling ourselves under God’s mighty hand, to cast all our care upon Him, because He cares for us. (1 Peter 5:6-7) This is the way of escape for us in temptation. If we make use of God’s Word and judge ourselves, we won’t be judged, but will receive power to overcome sin and live a life in constant victory.
James writes: “Blessed is the man who endures in temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.” James 1:12. Just think that as a result of our battle, the virtues of Christ will grow in our life. An amazing life to live!
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.