Think your temptation may be OK?Â You may be right! Here’s why…
Temptations… we all have them… they’re the stuff in life that we want or would enjoy in the short-term, but that we may regret later on… the forbidden fruit, if you will. Giving in to temptation is considered the inclination to sin, or missing the mark. I personally find that when I give in to temptation the most damaging consequence is that I distance myself from God.
Is there a list of these sins?Â Well, I found a rather long list of them… 667 to be exact… you can glance through them byÂ following this link, it includes the scripture verse where each sin is mentioned in the Bible. That’s crazy… 667??? We do know that Moses brought down the 10 Commandments, for sure. Beyond that, I only glanced through the 667 (and didn’t verify any of the Bible verses)… many of them do seem like nono’s…
None of us is exempt from sins or their temptations. Sometimes what’s easy for me to stiff arm is exactly what troubles you. We often try to rationalize them… pretending that this or that is A-OK when we know it’s really not.
The mantra of overcoming our temptations has always been to recognize our vulnerabilities and avoid placing ourselves in tempting situations…
“Donâ€™t carelessly place yourself in tempting situations. Avoid them.”Â Proverbs 14:16
… and staying out of the danger zone…
“Don’t be so naive and self-confident. You’re not exempt. You could fall flat on your face as easily as anyone else. Forget about self-confidence; it’s useless. Cultivate God-confidence.”Â 1 Corinthians 10:12
I believe that’s all good and sound advice. Solid wisdom right from the source, the Bible.
I wrote this piece as I’ve been facing some very attractive temptations… so I thought I needed it… and that maybe others would benefit too 🙂
Well, low and behold there is something else that I picked up along the way… perspective, if you will, that I found to be helpful…
The most important behavior to mastering temptation…
If you think about our needs, they fall within one of three areas: physical, emotional and psychological. Temptations can likewise be placed in these three categories.Â All of your needs you can fulfill without them being sins… it’s a matter of how you do this so that you’re not satisfying the right desires in the wrong way.
The devil said to Him, “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.”
Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone.'”Â Luke 4:3-4
So what in the devil (hee) does that have to do with my sin?
Ha! Turning stone into bread isn’t a sin, right? Jesus could have easily done this, we know that for sure. So what’s wrong with this picture? It’sÂ not really the act, but the reason behind it… you see, Jesus was led by the Holy Spirit to the desert, where for 40 days He was tempted by the devil (Lead by the Holy Spirit? Yep, there’sÂ God’s WillÂ in play again…). Jesus fasted during this time, so at the end of 40 days He was hungry (there’s the need…). The evil one was attempting to get Jesus to take a short cut… and satisfy His immediate needs at the expense of His long-range goal of resisting temptation, and thereby redeeming humanity and offering us salvation in His victory. Pretty sweet, yea?
Granted, not all sins fall into this category… “it’s not really the act, but the reason behind it…” but many do, particularly those that are needs, or we could find a work around that would be all good with our Heavenly Father.
Cool? How about an example a little closer to home… here’s one… lust. Or, maybe let’s just say sex. OK, we said it… I know it’s been a while since we got on this subject here, but it’s one many of us can relate to, OK!! (Not to worry, I’ll keep this squeaky clean 😉 )
Ok, we know that sex in itself isn’t necessarily a bad thing. We know, from the Bible, that God made us (man and woman) to fit together as one flesh when we’re married, right? If I’m not married, I still have these needs… desires… you know what I’m talking about… so, should I satisfy the temptation… the desire… in the wrong way? Ummmm, probably not. Can I try to justify it to myself… ummmm, probably, at least sometimes I know I have. Isn’t that quaking to temptation? Yep… Yep… OK, Yep. But the act of sex itself isn’t necessarily a sin… so I just need to find the right 1 and get hitched! Then we can make passionate love as many times a day as we like… right? Right on!!
Well, you and I both know there’s more to picking the perfect mate than just steamy hot passionate sex, right? Right! Plus, we all know that the spark of passion often wears off in a committed relationship or marriage, usually after 2 to 4 years… unless, of course, you happen to be cut from the same piece of cloth… then… cowabunga… you may just find yourself waking up giggling from awesome surfer dreams… well, you get the picture, right! Yep, these blessings are the sustenance of everlasting… and for mastering your temptation.
Just don’t put yourself in a situation of temptation when you can obviously avoid it… and if there’s a work around to avoid a sin… go for it! That’sÂ putting oil in the lamp…
Are you setting yourself up in any way to quake to temptations when you could be satisfying the right desires instead?
Image for this post courtesy of Master isolated images / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Great post, Chris.
Being tempted isn’t the sin. Succumbing to temptation is. Even Jesus was tempted. It’s why Jesus taught us to pray: lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. Temptation is there; always will be. Our job–with God’s help through the Holy Spirit–is to not say “yes.”
Thanks Carol, I feel like I can get a little long winded sometimes… then, this Mother Teresa thing keeps coming up…
“If you want a love message to be heard, it has got to be sent out. To keep a lamp burning, we have to keep putting oil in it.” Mother Teresa
I think realizing temptation isn’t sin is very important for people to grasp. Even Jesus was tempted. Jesus even experienced fear (He prayed more than once for the cup to be removed from Him, asking if maybe there was another way to save the world.)
But ultimately Jesus never sinned. He was tempted but he knew what to do with those temptations.
I hear so many Christians beating themselves up for being tempted.They need to understand the temptation isn’t the problem (unless you are putting yourself in the way of temptation- strip clubs) it’s what you do with the temptation that can lead to sin.
True T.C., I find myself sometimes doing this. Good point!
Good stuff Chris. Temptation comes but we have the resources to flee or overcome it. Just the word I needed to hear today.
Glad that you found this helpful Joe!