Tuesday, 09 December 2008 20:00
What is it?
What do you think of when you see the word "temptation"? The word suggests a situation where you face a choice. You feel the pull to do something that is somehow wrong or forbidden. Deep down in your heart you know what is right. But there is this urge to give in anyway. A choice has to be made. What can you do to resist temptations?
The Bible speaks of three sources of temptation: the devil, the world, and our own sinful nature. The devil is a fallen angel, the enemy of God. The devil is eager to lead people, who have been created in the image of God, astray. He uses the world as his ally. The world tempts us through what we see, hear, and experience. There are temptations to devote our lives to fulfilling desires for more and more riches, power, or pleasure. Self-centredness is a trap that people also fall into as the world encourages pursuing self-fulfilment. Have you never thought: "I shouldn’t have done that?" Have you never wondered: "Why did I do that, when I knew it wasn’t right?" The apostle Paul, author of various books of the New Testament (the second part of the Bible), expressed this as follows: "I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do" (Romans 7:15). We have a sinful nature, a nature that has weaknesses and an inclination to cater to them.
The apostle Paul knew that he could not deal with temptations in his own strength. He also pointed to the solution. "What a wretched man that I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God – through Jesus Christ our Lord!" (Romans 7:24-25). The Bible teaches us that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. He came into this world to be the Saviour of sinners. He took our human nature upon himself. He lived a life of total, sinless devotion to God. He died on a cross to obtain salvation for sinners. As Paul put it: "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 6:23). Eternal life is life with God, received through faith in Christ. As Christians, we know we are still sinners. But we learn of forgiveness. We also learn to live as children of God, guided by His Word and Spirit. Temptations don’t disappear. But gradually we learn to deal with them. That is part of what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ, someone who acknowledges Him as Lord. Do you want to learn more? You are welcome to come to church. You won’t find perfect people. But you will find people who are willing to learn, just like you.