“Stan,” I began one morning, “Can we talk about temptation? It seems that I’m constantly being tempted to do such and such. It makes me feel just terrible!”
“Temptation is a good sign,” Stan responded.
“Good sign for what?” I asked.
“Two things,” he replied. “First, you are a human. Second, you are alive.”
Continuing, he added, “I know for certain Satan doesn’t tempt dead people. And I don’t think he tempts non-humans.”
“But,” he added, the bigger question is not whether you are tempted, but whether you give into the temptation. Everyone falls into temptation, but not everyone falls into sin by giving into the temptation.”
“Falling into temptation versus falling into sin,” I repeated. “Is that a valid distinction?”
“Oh, I think so,” Stan replied. “In my mind, all I have to do to see the difference in the two fallings is to look at Jesus. The Bible records that He faced all sorts of temptation, but he did not sin.”
“Probably easy for Him,” I replied. “After all, He is God. And, if I remember correctly, you said a friend described Jesus as what God looked like walking around on two legs.”
“That’s right,” Stan replied, “but don’t forget Jesus was also fully human. And it was as a human that He was tempted, not as God, and yet He did not sin.”
“How did He do that?” I asked.
“He choose not to fall into sin from being tempted,” Stan replied. “He chose to resist Satan. It’s the same with me and with each one of us, it’s a matter of choice.”
Continuing, he added, “While I think sinning is a matter of choice, I don’t think being tempted is the same thing. Temptation is not a choice; it comes with being human, but what I do with the temptation is certainly a choice that’s up to me.”
“There can be some tough choices,” I replied.
“Yes and no,” Stan said. “Depends on who I allow to lead my choices. If I am surrendered to the leading of the Holy Spirit, the choice to be like Jesus is really quite easy.”
“However,” he concluded, “if I am surrendered to following the leading of myself and the decisions I make on my own, there’s a pretty good chance I will make the wrong choice as to what I fall for.”
My son, if sinners entice you, do not consent. Proverbs 1:10.
For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Hebrews 4:15
Prayer: Thank you, Father, for providing the way out of every temptation of the evil one. Thank you, too, for showing me that to be tempted is to be human, but to follow the temptation into sin is to choose to be separated from you and from your will. Thank you for the provision of the Holy Spirit who is in me to help, guide, and counsel me in the way to avoid falling into sin after I have been tempted. I confess that too often I choose not to follow His lead away from being tempted. Please forgive me for all of those failings. And please, Father, help me to follow every step of your lead so I choose to take advantage of all you have for me to resist temptation and not to fall into sin. Thank you I can and do bring these prayers before you in the name of Jesus. Amen.
Think on this: Being tempted is not a sin, but what we do with the temptation can lead to sin. Do you agree with that? Why or why not? Do you find yourself constantly tempted by the same thing you know in your heart is not what God has for you? If so, how are you doing in resisting that temptation? How does God think you are doing? What would it take for you to be prepared to resist every temptation that comes your way? Can you do that on your own or do you need some help? Where would that help come from?