“When tempted, no one should say…”
Have you ever found yourself in a situation of temptation that you felt was unbearable? No way out but to satisfy the perceived need, want or desire! We all have. And the consequence is always “less than the best”, and sometimes very hurtful and destructive.
The “process” of temptation, the “trigger” can begin with something very, seemingly, simple and innocuous. Visual triggers are very common, especially for men, but there are many others. The trigger is, typically but not always, something we do not plan for or control, however, what we do afterwards is very much within our control. Triggers create feelings. These feelings can then progress to errors in our thinking (“I can get away with this and no one will know”)…progressing to decisions where we, consciously, place ourselves in situations in which failure, giving into the temptation and acting upon it, is probable. The Bible speaks of this process with terms such as “evil desire”, “enticed”, “birth to sin” and “birth to death”. (See below)
“When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.” James 1:13-15
Biblical history records that King David was visually-tempted (the trigger), which quickly progressed through feelings, thinking errors, seemingly unimportant decisions and finally placing himself in a position of certain failure:
One evening David got up from his bed and walked around on the roof of the palace. From the roof he saw a woman bathing. The woman was very beautiful, and David sent someone to find out about her. The man said, “She is Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah the Hittite.” Then David sent messengers to get her. She came to him, and he slept with her. 2 Samuel 11:2-4
Our choices impact not only ourselves but those around us!
David’s decision to allow temptation to control him resulted in the deaths of both Bathsheba’s husband and the child that was conceived from this sexual encounter. David’s submission to temptation resulted in adultery, murder and the death of an innocent child. And, “…the thing David had done displeased the Lord.” 2 Samuel 11:27, which resulted in continued struggle for not only David but the entire nation under his rule. “Now, therefore, the sword will never depart from your house, because you despised me and took the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your own.” 2 Samuel 12:10
“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” 1 Peter 5:8
Satan will set you up for failure! I have learned that from experience. He will tempt you with one promise of pleasure and promise you more if you will follow his directions. God will never tempt you! He may, however, test you. The purpose of God’s testing is to reveal your strengths and weaknesses, thereby preparing you to be successful in your battle against temptation. Earlier in David’s life he faced “tests” involving lions and bears attacking the sheep he was caring for. These tests revealed his strengths and weaknesses and honed his skills, thus preparing him to face Goliath (1 Samuel 17:34-37). Without these tests he would not have been prepared.
God’s testing is meant to build you up, not tear you down. Satan’s tempting is meant to destroy you. David, instead of defeating lions and bears, as he did in his youth, fell and was defeated by a PIG…Pursuit of Instant Gratification. Don’t fall for the lie!
“Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.” James 1:12
What did Jesus do?
We all need an “exit-strategy”; a pre-set plan of what to do when temptation knocks at our door. Jesus had one…
Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written:
“‘He will command his angels concerning you,
and they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’”
Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’”
Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”
Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’” Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him. Matthew 4:4-11
Jesus’ “exit-strategy” was to know and apply Scripture…“It is written”, “It is also written”, “For it is written”. Jesus was tempted with food when he was extremely hungry; possibly stressed from loneliness or a sense of abandonment and the promise of worldly and material wealth. This was one of the “Goliath’s” He had to face on His life-journey. He was prepared. Because He prepared; because He had an exit-strategy He was successful…“Away from me Satan!…”.
Here are a few Scripture verses that help me during those times. Perhaps they will be a blessing to you as you face your temptations today…
No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it. 1 Corinthians 10:13
Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted. Hebrew 2:18
Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. Galatians 6:1
Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are–yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Hebrews 4:14-16
My brothers, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring him back, remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins. James 5:19-20
Are you ready for the “Goliath” (temptation) you may face today or tomorrow?
What is your exit-strategy? I now have one. It includes, immediately, refocusing my eyes and thoughts when triggered by a temptation. It includes remembering that any person involved in my temptation and/or trigger is a child of God deserving respect, love and care. It involves prayer and memorizing Scripture to counteract any negative or ungodly thoughts. And it involves transparency with trusted accountability partners who will help to guide me through the times of struggle, doubt and temptation and help me maintain godly and healthy boundaries.
May you, be confident as you approach “the throne of grace”. May you be self-controlled knowing God “will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear”. May you be at peace knowing that Jesus “himself suffered when he was tempted” yet was able to resist. May you be amazed that God intimately knows your struggles and is therefore able to help you when you are tempted. May you be filled with joy knowing God will never tempt you or set you up for failure. And may you be determined, to “gently” restore those around you who have fallen to temptation; thereby, helping them to turn away from sin and toward Christ.
Click below and watch this very short youtube video. You will find it both amusing and convicting:
Any “marshmallows” in your life? Yes, I know….me too!
Your fellow Marshmallow-survivor…tempted…failed…saved by Grace through the One who was tempted but never failed.
PS Have you failed? Have you fallen to temptation? Do you feel condemned? Trust in Jesus and claim this promise: “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.” Roman 8:1-4
Image courtesy of Naypong at FreeDigitalPhotos.net