Submitting to the will of God has nothing to do with our desires. It isn’t an act on our part of “giving up part of ourselves,” that we should have anything to boast about. It is giving the decision making process back to God (whose it was in the first place), because we know and trust that he will guide us to the best decision anyway. We can’t simply believe in God. We have to live daily for God, starting by submitting our will for His.
This includes one of the toughest areas of life: temptation. We deal with challenges in our personal lives, whether in how we look or how we act. We deal with challenges in our social lives on what is permissible and where that infamous “line” needs to be drawn. We deal with it in our professional lives through the ever changing balance of work and family or deciphering the difference between obeying the boss and honoring your own morals. Every aspect of our life is affected by temptation and that is Satan’s goal. He wants us to struggle and suffer. He wants us to say that we can do it on our own and laugh at our failings. He delights in our mistakes and boasts in our selfishness desire to be so incredibly independent that we allow ourselves to become independent from the one who can help us through (sometimes even carry us through) that very struggle.
Temptation is a tricky subject only because we don’t like to hear about it. Sure, Jesus was tempted, but come on, he is God after all. But the point is that Satan came and tempted Jesus with those things that he knew that he wanted most. Satan tempted him with those things that Jesus would have been desiring the very most at that moment. It’s been said that the fruit (most commonly described as an apple, though historians say that a pomegranate would have been more likely) in the Garden of Eden was precisely that one thing that Eve could not resist. The type of fruit was irrelevant. It wasn’t the piece of fruit that tempted Eve so much. It was the possibility of knowing more than she did. It was the opportunity to be god-like. And Satan knew that temptation all too well. It was his own downfall and now, he jumped at the opportunity to make it the downfall of God’s great creation, and it was.
Temptation ties back to the idea of our own selfishness standing in the way of trusting God and knowing that he has our best interest at heart. But temptation itself is not the problem; it’s giving in to that temptation.
Mathew, Mark, and Luke all tell the story of Jesus’ temptation. It begins with a fast. Jesus is seeking God and desiring to be closer to him. After 40 days, he is clearly hungry. Satan tempts Jesus with food, his greatest physical desire at that point. He then tempts his mind, telling him to prove that he is indeed the Son of God, something that Satan obviously knows but he also knows that the human heart is weak and prone to pride. Finally, his last stitch effort for to tempt Jesus with his position. He tempts him with that which is already rightfully his as the Son of God. Satan realizes that Jesus wants his kingdom restored and offers it to him—for a price. (Matthew 4:1-11, Mark 1:12-13, Luke 4:1-13).
Temptation attacks our greatest weaknesses, whether we acknowledge them as the root of the problem or not. For a long time I dealt with what I thought was just physical temptation. I assumed that was the issue because I always seemed to have to have a boyfriend and I soon began pushing boundaries that I had previously set. But physical affection was not my actual weakness. I had an irrational fear of being alone.
As I grew older, the only nightmares that I continued to have involved the death of one of my family members due to them saving me from some extravagant scenario (from being eaten by a monster, to saving me from a fire, to saving me from who knows what but it was done CIA/spy style). The only one who didn’t die saving me, was the one who died because I couldn’t save him. That was the nightmare I had for my husband.
It is clear that my fear was losing the people that I knew loved me enough to die for me. My weakness was acknowledging that I couldn’t save the person who I would willingly die for. My weakness for being alone translated into a variety of sins, but until I understood what weakness Satan was targeting, I didn’t know how to combat him. And once I knew, I realized that I could not combat him alone. It had to be God. Because when it comes down to it, even if I lose every person I love, I am still not alone because I have Christ who lives in me.
There are so many of these temptations that the world tells us are okay. Even in a lot of churches, the Bible is approached as just some out of date book that can’t deal with the realities of life today. Homosexuality, sex before marriage, gambling, pornography. It is all just a part of life. All of these come with their own set of challenges and struggles. Taking a hot topic, like homosexuality, and saying that it is just the way that a person is born is not an excuse. While there isn’t enough proof either way to support this statement, those that have overcome homosexuality have stated that it is a struggle and a temptation that they deal with each and every day, but that they do it because they know that is how God has called them to live.
We all have our “forbidden fruit” and no one is strong enough to conquer it in their own strength. It is only by submitting to the will of God and allowing him to be victorious in our lives can we be freed from these ties. We cannot simply adhere to the “we are victorious, period” mantra, but we must be willing to sacrifice those temptations, those hidden desires to allow him to be victorious in our lives on a daily (sometimes hourly) basis. We have to allow him to be the overcomer in our lives. We must acknowledge that we have overcome because God has overcome it for us.
That is when we can finally sacrifice our own will to the will of God and step forward in our pursuit of His purpose for our lives.