Taken from the book, Breaking Free from the Bondange of Sin—Henry Brandt and Kerry L. Skinner ©1994 Harvest House Publishers
Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death. Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. James 1:13-16 NKJV
What is temptation? Smiley Blanton, noted psychiatrist, offers a good definition:
Every day of your life, no matter how sheltered you are, you face some choice in which the wrong action is so seductive, so plausible, so pleasurable that it takes a conscious effort of will to reject it. Temptation is universal, as old as the Garden of Eden. Much of your happiness or unhappiness depends on your ability to handle it—instead of letting it handle you.
As a Christian, you are committed to give of your income to the Lord, but the furniture is shabby and the sales are on. You are tempted to withhold your tithe “just this one time.”
You have promised to spend the evening with your family. A fellow worker, however, has two tickets to the deciding ball game of a crucial series. He wants you to go with him. You are tempted to go.
Temptation does not always appear as a terrible, undesirable evil thing that you won’t want to do or aren’t interested in doing. But you may be greatly tempted by something you want to do but know you shouldn’t. (Or it could be the reverse—something that you should do but don’t want to.)
At the moment of temptation, the thing may seem so right. An impulsive purchase that wrecked the household budget seemed so right at the time. The temptations that bother most people are not those that would clearly lead into sin. Not many people struggle hard with the temptation to steal.
In advance of a temptation you must make up your mind not to yield to it. Character is forged from encounters with life that tempt you to do wrong. The erring attraction is always present. Paul reminded the Corinthians
“So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!” 1 Corinthians 10:12
All men are tempted to please only themselves, but the pathway to inner peace is to lose yourself in God’s way, to follow Him and do His will at all costs. Inner peace comes to those who seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness (Matthew 6:33), to those who “pursue righteousness [and] godliness” (1 Timothy 6:11). To enjoy God’s peace, you must “pursue the things which make for peace” (Romans 14:19).
Where will you place your faith? In the conduct of a man? In the words or writings of some individual? Or in God and His Word? You must make this choice alone and then face the ceaseless temptations to change your choice.
We have discovered that the man who violates Biblical principles will be unhappy, whether he appears to be or not, just as the man who disobeys the rules of health will be sick, whether he likes it or not. We say this by faith. But we say it by experience too. The unhappy, tense, anxious, miserable person who comes to a counselor for help is usually knowingly or unknowingly violating some Biblical principle.
Let me “tempt” you to make a one-year test of studying and applying to your life what you find in the Bible. To study, to ponder, to test what the Bible says takes time.
Your challenge is to accept the Bible as your guide and to obey God’s commands fully. If you do, you will find that the Bible is a mirror in which you see yourself as you really are. And when you see yourself, what you do is still up to you. You can correct what ought to be corrected. But you will be tempted to look away and forget what you saw (James 1:23-25). And in looking away you will soon become absorbed in counter attractions that will not let you return for a second look.
Are there areas of your life in which you need to turn from temptation and adjust to God?
Applying what God is pointing out to you is essential. How will you apply this truth to your life today?
Write a short prayer to God that summarizes your thoughts.
Did God bring to mind someone who needs to hear this truth? Who?