You hear the word "temptation.” What do you think of? For some of us it might be best to NOT answer this question out loud. For others it might be dark chocolate or getting even or pushing the envelope or wanting to take what is not ours. In every case, temptation is directly built upon our human desires, and our human desires left unfettered will continually fabricate webs of attraction, entitlement and deceit. These webs are binding, sticky and tenacious, and once we allow ourselves to touch them we may find ourselves too close to walk away, too weak to resist and too willing to try it out – you know, "just this once!" Temptation has shattered many relationships, disrupted many positive pathways and broken the contentment of many lives. Temptation is unfortunately not only alive and well, it is being fed, fostered and flaunted by our present society! What do we do! How do we get that temptation genie back in its bottle?
For a Christian, the first thing to accomplish is the understanding of what “temptation” actually means in the Bible. Like many words in the English language, the Greek word for temptation has different shades of meaning. For instance, it says that when Jesus went into the wilderness for 40 days after his baptism, he was going to be “tempted” by Satan. Tempted here obviously means enticed, while in 2 Corinthians 13:5, it tells us to “examine” ourselves and that is the same Greek word! Obviously the Bible isn’t telling us to entice ourselves (though I am sure that some would love for that to be the case) but it is telling us to scrutinize ourselves. Entice and scrutinize - same Greek word – different applications and slightly different meanings. The bottom line here is that temptation is a hard testing spurred on by either good or evil that challenges the very core of our character!
So, how do we learn to recognize, do battle with and overcome temptation? As you might have thought, the Bible gives us several significant tools to help us here. First, it gives us reasons why we need to fight this fight and then it gives us a step-by-step process to do the fighting with. James 4 is a vital chapter for us in our foundation to fight temptation. Second, the Bible also gives us examples of those who succumbed to the enticing allurements of temptation. Some of these examples are detailed enough for us to observe what happened that allowed the seed of temptation to be planted, to take root, to sprout and to grow into the devious life-sucking mess that temptation inevitably brings.
Using the tools of enlightenment and example together is a powerful way to form our battle plan against temptation. Oh, and throwing in a story from Greek mythology also helps to make the point! Please check out our September 11, 2017 podcast, “How Do I Deal with Enticing Temptations?” and see for yourself. We are all plagued with temptation on one level or another and that means we are all subject to falling prey to that which would hurt us and those around us. Learn how to fight the fight – it just might save you untold grief!
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