In the Lord’s Prayer we say, “…lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” It is one thing to say it…quite another to obey it.
We must begin by distinguishing between temptation and sin. Temptation is an invitation to decision that leads to action. It can be difficult to tell when the line is crossed, but temptation is not sin – yielding to it is. Hebrews 4:15 says that Jesus was “…tempted in every way just as we are, yet without sin.”
Sin always has serious repercussions. Drew Anderson, in the Reader’s Digest wrote, “While my wife and I were shopping at a mall kiosk, a shapely young woman in a short, form-fitting dress strolled by. My eyes followed her. Without looking up from the item she was examining, my wife asked, “Was it worth the trouble you’re in?”
On a more serious note we should recognize that temptation often functions through what may be natural, legitimate, God-given desires that become unbalanced and/or abused. Hunger for example can lead to gluttony and obesity; sexual desire can lead to adultery and a whole array of other indiscretions. And temptation that is habitually yielded to will introduce patterns that are insidious, powerful and destructive.
Take pornography for example. Yielding repetitively to the temptation of viewing pornographic materials become first a fascination and then an obsession. The obsession requires feeding, (typically overfeeding) which results in an addiction. Sometimes this drive or lust will be fulfilled with a twist resulting in perversion. This is particularly horrendous for Christians because it results in their becoming slaves to sin rather than servants of the Savior.
What to do? First, remember that we have weaknesses; mine may be somewhat different than yours, but we all have them. Figuratively speaking, don’t spend a lot of time looking at the forbidden fruit. There are many other trees in the garden that are pleasant to look at and good to eat.
To run away rather than to stand and resist is sometimes the greatest act of courage. Genesis chapter 39 provides the account of how Joseph was tempted by Potiphar’s wife. Rather than staying and resisting he removed himself from the situation and the temptation.
Be reminded that yielding will bring negative consequences. “Sensible people foresee trouble and hide from it, but gullible people go ahead and suffer the consequence” (Proverbs 22:3).
Embrace the promises of God. “God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand…He will show you a way out…” (1 Corinthians 10:13).
Finally, be glad that overcoming temptation brings spiritual maturation and strengthens character. “Fire tries Iron, and temptation tries a just man.” Thomas a Kempis
Pastor Ross Helgeton Senior Pastor – Erskine Evangelical Free Church Phone: 403 – 742 – 5020 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
FAITH & REFLECTION