By Gloria Nesloney
Have you ever heard anyone say, I was tempted to help someone with their groceries? Or, I was tempted to give extra in tithe and offering? I was tempted to sit at a restaurant and help feed a whole family. Wouldn’t the world be better if we were tempted to do what is good for the people or especially to be pleasing to the Lord? But why is it that temptation is considered an attribute of the enemy? Let’s find out what the bible says about temptation, how it works in our lives, and how to overcome it.
What is Temptation?
How does Temptation Operate in Our Lives?
What Are the Consequences of Giving into Temptation?
How Can We Overcome Temptation?
Let’s turn to the Book of James 1:12-15
12 Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.
13 Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: 14 But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust and enticed. 15 Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.
What is Temptation:
Temptations come in various forms and can test our character and faith. Temptation, in the Biblical sense, is a situation in which one experiences a challenge to choose between fidelity and infidelity to one's obligations toward God. When you don’t have a plan of escape or plan of action, you may find yourself in a web that may seem hard to break free from. Temptation always tells you it will be okay, but it doesn’t count the cost of how it can lead you further than you wanted to go. Temptation, though not sin, is the wide path, but if someone doesn’t recognize its potential destruction, one will easily be given into sin.
In our human nature, we are not immune to temptation. People often find themselves enticed by sinful desires, and while sin may offer temporary enjoyment, it comes at a high cost. James 1:13 says "When tempted, no one should say, 'God is tempting me.' For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He tempt anyone. It's important to recognize that when temptation comes knocking, we should not blame God; instead, we must take personal responsibility for our choices. James emphasizes that we should never attribute our temptations to God. God, being pure and holy, cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He tempt anyone. It's crucial to understand that temptation is not a divine test but a result of our own desires.
Temptation doesn't have the power you don't give it. How do you know you are being tempted? If you must ask, "Is this wrong of me to do this?" The answer is immediate through the Holy Spirit. But it's when you ignore the prompting or quench that still, small voice of truth that you become ensnared. Temptation often leads us away from God's path, as it arises as a desire for things not in line with God's will for us. This desire can be enticing, making worldly success appear easy and attractive.
How Does Temptation operate in our lives?
Let's see what James 1:14 says: But each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed.
Temptation is not an external force imposed upon individuals but rather an internal struggle rooted in one's desires. It suggests that temptations arise from within, often fueled by unfulfilled desires, cravings, or weaknesses. This perspective challenges the notion that external factors alone are responsible for leading individuals astray, highlighting the importance of self-awareness and self-control. Self-awareness is of the mind, will, and emotion, and self-control is a fruit of the Holy Spirit.
Luring and Enticement: Like a Fish on a Hook
The verse employs vivid language to describe the process of temptation, using terms like "lured" and "enticed." These words paint a picture of temptation as a seductive force that captivates the individual's attention, drawing them away from their intended path. This characterization emphasizes the power of temptation to subtly and insidiously influence one's thoughts and actions.
Pride, Prosperity, or Pleasure - Pride reveals itself through I can do this by myself self-achievement. I don’t need anyone telling me what to do. This is an internal struggle because deep inside, they push everyone aside to get to the top, trusting in their ability. Prosperity can reveal itself through gambling, even video games of gambling. Since you are not really hurting anyone, it can’t be wrong, right? The pleasure of things of the world, especially ‘lust of the flesh, of the eyes, and the desire, doesn't cause sin. It is the bait of sin. Sin is the bait of Satan. What you do with the desire determines how far someone will go. If someone knows that they can resist temptation, then they won’t act out on the thought. Jesus tells us in Matthew 5:27-28 27 “You have heard that it was said, 'You shall not commit adultery. ' 28 But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
One of the key takeaways from James 1:14 is the notion of personal responsibility. It implies that individuals have a degree of agency in resisting temptation. By recognizing their desires and vulnerabilities, individuals can take proactive steps to guard against succumbing to temptation. This aligns with the broader biblical message of self-control and moral responsibility. If you dwell on the desire, you start planning how to get what you want. Then the mind games begin. You start making agreements with your soul on how you can do certain things and not get caught. You then break the law and hope not to get caught again. That is called transgression. Transgression is breaking an ordinance, a law, against yourself or another. In this case we break the commandment. When you don’t get caught enough, you get trapped into sin. When you sin enough you get into bondage like a prisoner. Then it is hard to become free.
The Consequences of Giving into Temptation
James 1:15 teaches us that when desire gives birth to sin, and sin matures, it leads to death. In other words, when we allow our desires to lead us into sin, it sets in motion a destructive process that can ultimately lead to spiritual death. When we give in to temptation, we experience inner turmoil. We rationalize our actions in a self-centered way, rather than seeking to align with God's plan for our lives. This often results in confusion and chaos, far from the peace that God offers.
The Power of Choice and Personal Responsibility:
James underscores the power of our choices when faced with temptation. We can resist and overcome temptation if we choose to do so. Failing to resist temptation, as James explains, has severe consequences, including strife, division, isolation, confusion, fear, and even spiritual death. We must recognize that the decision to give in to temptation is ours to make, and it comes with responsibility.
God's Faithfulness in the Midst of Temptation and Trials:
We are reminded that God remains faithful in all circumstances, no matter how challenging they may be. He never abandons us, even in the midst of intense temptation or trials. God is our dependable guide, our source of strength when we are weak, our healer when we are hurt, and our way when we are lost. He is ever-present, willing to lift us when we fall, and ready to forgive when we fail. But you have to call on Him first, not as a last resort. But if you find yourself stuck, call on HIM anyway, He has a way out for you.
To overcome temptation, we can follow these practical steps:
Avoid Entertaining Tempting Thoughts: As James suggests, when tempting thoughts arise, don't dwell on them. Instead, redirect your focus to something positive and in alignment with the truth of God's Word.
Flee from Temptation: If you find yourself in a situation where temptation is strong, remove yourself from that environment. Sometimes, physically distancing yourself from temptation is the best way to resist it.
Do Not Give In: Remember that yielding to temptation leads away from God's will. Stay strong and resolute in your faith. Seek support from your community and rely on prayer and scripture to fortify your resistance.
Seek God's Guidance: When faced with temptation, turn to God in prayer. Seek His guidance and strength to overcome it. Trust in His wisdom and power to help you make the right choices.
Accountability: Share your struggles with a trusted friend or mentor who can hold you accountable and provide encouragement during moments of temptation.
Renew Your Mind: Regularly engage in spiritual practices such as reading the Bible, attending church, and praying to renew your mind and strengthen your faith.
By practicing these steps, you can build resilience against temptation, stay on the path of God's will, and experience the lasting peace that comes from aligning your desires with His divine plan for your life.
James Chapter 1:12-15 teaches us the importance of taking personal responsibility when faced with temptation and understanding the consequences of yielding to it. While temptation can lead to sin, it is not an inevitable outcome. God's faithfulness remains constant, and He provides us with the strength and guidance needed to overcome temptation and stay on the path of righteousness so that we don’t have to sin. We can find comfort and assurance in God's unwavering commitment to us, no matter the trials and temptations we face.
In closing, Let’s not forget that the Lord promises us a blessing when we have overcome temptation in James 1:12 Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.