Friday, April 23, 2010

T is for Temptation


Nobody likes to talk about temptation. Temptation is one of those things we know exists but because of its regular and negative effect on us we like to forget it exists. Many people deal with the subject of temptation in a number of ways. Passing off personal responsibility is the most common way temptation is dealt with. For example:

Flip Wilson used to say, “The Devil made me do it.”

Another way of dealing with temptation is making light of it through humor. Mark Twain used to say, “I deal with temptation by yielding to it.” Mae West once said, “I generally avoid temptation, unless I can’t resist it.”

May be you like Sam Levenson’s way of thinking of temptation, “Lead me not into temptation, just tell me where it is, I’ll find it.”

My personal favorite take on temptation has always been, “The problem with fleeing temptation is that we always leave a forwarding address.”

How should we view temptation? The Apostle Matthew tells us in his gospel, “Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing but the flesh is weak.” (Matthew 26:41, ESV)

The Greek word that Matthew used is the word πειρασμος. It is used approximately twenty one times in the Greek New Testament. It carries a double meaning of both trials and temptations. Our human spirit has good intentions but our nature is wicked. Our sinful flesh or nature has a 100% proclivity to sin. This is why God creates a new nature in us when He saves or redeems us. He doesn’t mess around with the old by renovating it.

When πειρασμος is used for temptation it means to test a man’s fidelity, or his integrity, his virtue or his constancy. Temptation is an internal enticement to do evil. Temptation may be aroused or prompted by external and outward circumstances. Temptation is always an internal enticement to sin, or to violate the standards of God. Succumbing to our internal enticements even if stimulated by external circumstances is rebellion. Fortunately God forgives our rebellion when we confess our sins to Him.

James, the half-brother of our Lord and first pastor of the Jerusalem Church wrote a short letter to Jewish Christians who had been scattered throughout various countries. These new Christians were being persecuted for their new faith in Jesus Christ as God’s Messiah and they were succumbing to temptations leading to sinful acts. James said this in this letter:

Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am being tempted by God,’ for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.” (James 1:13-15, ESV)

So, how will you deal with the internal luring and enticement of our inner being? Will you pass the buck and like Flip Wilson, simply say that the devil made you do it?

Will you deal with as Mark Twain did by simply giving in to it? Or maybe like Mae West, if you can’t resist it then you give in? Hopefully you are not like Levenson running full bore towards it. Remember fleeing it won’t do much good if you leave a forwarding address in order for temptation to find you.

I am sure you are like me and many others. You will deal with as Christ prescribed, watching and praying. Oh, there is that word I like so much, watching γρηγορεω, or the English word, Gregory, hmmm why do I like that? (Every time you see or hear the word watch you should now be thinking of my name, Gregory)

We will give strict attention to our inward proclivity and we will, be cautious when our internal desires attempt to lure us or entice us, especially when external circumstances are egging our internal desires on.

And we will pray. We will ask God for wisdom to recognize our innate sinfulness. We will ask God for His strength and energy to put down and kill those wicked proclivities. We will ask God to be victorious because we have done our part and we have trusted Him.


Wanda said...

Gregg, another great explanation you've provided. I always come away learning something new from your post like today watch means Gregory. I have a cousin name Gregory. I particularly like 1 Cor 10:13 and pray that I'll not only see but seize the way of escape that God provides.


You always come up with a thought provoking blog that get the old grey cells working,....usually when
I can't sleep. Well done on another successful blog.



People don't talk about temptation much, thanks for stepping up and doing so. Great post, very interesting!! Have a blessed weekend!

RCUBEs said...

Sometimes, they come so subtly but we are given the freedom to choose and we can't always blame the enemy. God promised to always provide a way out. But sadly, we take the wrong door instead. Glad you shared about this. Blessings.

Linda said...

Thank you for another thoughtful and educational post. When I first read the title I thought "No - don't want to think about the T word!" I so liked what you said about temptation testing a person's fidelity. Hadn't thought about that before.

Lisa said...

I've succumbed to temptation and have lived to reap the consequences of that. I don't want to live that way anymore. Thanks Gregg for showing us that there is another way, if we so choose it. And I do!

Praise God for a wonderful post,

PS - no worries about not knowing what to say on the Earth Day post. I think it was sweet that you at least made an attempt. :)

Mike Andrews said...

Great post Gregg....Thanks very much brother, for sharing this all important problem (issue) that faces each and everyone of us on daily basis......The greatest example to flee temptation is demonstrated by Joseph, when he said to Potiphar's wife "Look, my master does not know what is with me in the house, and he has committed all that he has to my hand. There is no one greater in this house than I, nor has he kept back anything from me but you, because you are his wife. How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?" Gen 39:8-9. We always need to flee from all forms of temptation, because the end result is habitual sin. Paul reminded us that we always have a way out of all temptation... "No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.” 1 Cor 10:12-13. The question is are we really looking for the door that He has for us to escape in? Amen brother for this post!

Beth said...

Great post as usual, Gregg! :)

Loren said...

What an awesome post....thank you for sharing this! Temptations can be oh so subtle or at times ~ they may scream "GIVE IN NOW" How will I handle them...Just as you have shared

And we will pray. We will ask God for wisdom to recognize our innate sinfulness. We will ask God for His strength and energy to put down and kill those wicked proclivities. We will ask God to be victorious because we have done our part and we have trusted Him

Thank you Gregg

Have a blessed weekend

arlee bird said...

Good information. I am going to me posting about temptation on my Bible study post for this Sunday to continue with last Sunday. I've watching your comments on those posts and hoping you are monitoring me for correctness. Thank you for the support you've given me so far.


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ilovepink1078 said...

Hi, Gregg!
How are you doing?Hope you've got what you been looking for.

By the way,I'm sorry I was not able to visit you because I had been away for a week attending the International Convention of The CFC-Handmaids of the Lord held in Victoria’s City, Negros Occidental. Also, I was sick because stress. Right now, I am trying to catch up with my schoolwork due to my absences.

Wanna keep in touch! pink