A critical look at temptation

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.


12 thoughts on “A critical look at temptation

  1. Mmm. Why do you single out homosexuality? There you are, talking about temptation, and your own temptations, and Jesus’ temptations- thank you, interesting- and suddenly you go and pick on the gays.


    • I was not “picking on gays,” I was using it as an example, just as I used my own temptations as an example. We all have our struggles and my opinion on the act of homosexuality has absolutely nothing to do with what I think of the people who live this lifestyle. I do have friends who are gay and it doesn’t make me like them as people any less. Honestly, my opinion is the same toward those who choose to live with one another outside of marriage or use drugs or drink to the point of getting drunk. I don’t like the action and don’t believe that it follows Biblical principals, but I don’t use that as a determinant of the persons themselves.

      • OK. So why did you not use the example of habitual drunkards, or heterosexual cohabitees, or indeed adulterers? I am glad that you have gay friends, and that does not determine your view of the people- so again I ask- why gays?

        You may have heard that there is a vigorous and determined attempt at the moment to prevent gay people from gaining rights and privileges which straight people take for granted, in the public recognition of our relationships and what goes along with that. The POTUS wants us to have these privileges, but a small group of very determined people seem to want us not to, even though our having those privileges does not prejudice them in any way. It is as if that determined group think of homosexuality as the uniquely wicked and disgusting sin. You don’t, do you?

      • I write about things that I am experiencing or reading about at that time. My husband has been reading a book written by a former homosexual and it was the example that came to mind (that is where the daily challenge reference came from).
        While I have opinions on political issues, I don’t feel that this has to be one of those. How people choose to life is their personal choice, just as how I live is mine. I do not see that is should be the governments choice for any lifestyle (likewise, of certain political groups saying that I am not allowed to pray or talk about my faith in certain arenas).
        Homosexuality is not a unique sin, but I do believe that the Bible tells me that it is a sin. It is no worse than any other (lying, premarital sex, drunkenness, cheating, using the Lord’s name in vain, etc.) I am sorry if you feel I was attacking the homosexual community by using that as my “hot topic” as that was not at all my intent. Like I said before, I typically just use examples from what I have been reading/experiencing/talking about with others and that happened to be one of them.

      • Then may I make a request? Change it to adultery.

        Feelings of desire may come upon people, and may feel overwhelming. It is theoretically possible that you may feel this temptation, if not succumb to it. Whereas it seems that homosexual desire is not a temptation you are likely to suffer (correct me if I am wrong).

        You see, we experience hatred. You may have seen that video of Charles Worley calling for us to be put behind a high electric fence. I am not saying your post is hateful- I am saying it will give aid and encouragement to the haters, who think this issue particularly important. There are Christian churches who allow as members divorced and remarried people.

        Some people do think that homosexuality is the ultimate Sin, the worst, most disgusting thing in the World, the most important thing to campaign against. Show them you are not one of them.

      • I try very hard to respect each person I meet and to not push what I believe on them. At the same time, as a follower of Jesus, I am called to live my life differently than the rest of the world. I am sorry that there are people out there that are so ignorant as to group a people of a certain lifestyle choice into this box of something to be hated and treated as a lower class. I am not one of those and I believe that the manner in which I wrote my blog should reflect that. There are many other times that I have written on my other weaknesses and struggles and because I acknowledge that I am a sinner that continually needs Jesus to forgive me, I also write a lot about love and forgiveness.
        True Christians (church or individual), if living a life of truly following Jesus, are welcoming to everyone. But while I will love and respect the individual and welcome them, I will not pretend that I agree with the lifestyle they have chosen.
        I have very close friends who chose to move in with their boyfriends and I told them (lovingly) that I didn’t agree. They knew where I stood, they knew why I had that opinion and that was the end of it. I don’t continually bring it up as I stated what I believed and because of that we are closer friends now because we aren’t trying to hide our convictions.
        If I were to use adultery as an example, I would upset someone else. It doesn’t matter what the actual example is, someone who doesn’t agree will always have an issue with it. And that’s perfectly fine.
        I know that the gay community has experienced an extreme level of hatred from people who claim to be Christians and it breaks my heart. Jesus called us to love everyone, but I would also like to include that he never condoned the lifestyles that he considered to be sinful. There are plenty of examples where he showed grace and love, but also called the individual out for their sin and told them to “go and sin no more.”

      • and on that, we are going to have to agree to disagree. Nothing I said in any way “attacks” homosexuals. I say that there is an argument that homosexuality is the way someone is born and that while there is no proof to support or negate that argument, individuals who have left the homosexual lifestyle say that it is a struggle and a temptation that they deal with on a daily basis. The point is that those particular individuals have chosen to change their lifestyle because they believe (as I do) that God calls us to live differently.

  2. This is an awesome, Biblically based ‘done-to-earth’ look at what every person who is breathing struggles with daily. If they say they don’t struggle with it, they’re struggling with lying!

  3. Wow, what an interesting bunch of posts today. Just thinking that ANY sin could be considered an ‘attack’ to those who chose to partake in that sin. The Bible clearly does not rank any sin except that of denying Christ as Lord and Savior.

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