The reality is; we all have been tempted once or twice in our life. We have been faced with making a decision, we know what choice would be best for us, but we choose what we want instead of what is right. Then we begin the process of justifying our decision. We all are tempted by something. Greetings in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
As we think back on the journey of life, we remember the stories along the way. Some of those stories involve leading someone into temptation. We all have weak points and we derive some entertainment in exposing other’s weaknesses. We have fun seeing if we can get so and so to do this or that.
Some temptations are not for fun but for satisfying our desires. We get tempted to do something that may not be right but it feels good.
Some say temptations really don’t affect others, or do they? Take the temptation to choose the donut over the apple. Yes, I am very familiar with that one. That doesn’t affect anyone else, does it? Of course it does, it is not life and death; unless I eat a lot of donuts, but every choice influences someone.
Some temptations are personal struggles and difficult to overcome. We should understand that all temptation has its root in satisfying ourselves. The root of temptation starts in our mind and follows through to our actions. We talked last week about integrity and temptation certainly compromises our integrity. The two cannot exist in the same place.
As we give in to our temptations, we gain confidence that it is okay, we get embolden, and we go further. Sometimes our guilt wants to get others involved. What starts in our mind now draws in others and we lead others down the road to a place that isn’t good. Temptations have their roots in places that are not good. Remember this verse from last week?
John 10:10; The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.
Temptation has its root in evil, the thief that steals, kills and destroys. So why does it seem so inviting. Why do we even consider it?
We do it to satisfy our desires. We try it because we think we can deal with the consequences of our choices. We don’t think anyone will find out. We don’t think a little bit will hurt. Everyone is doing it!
We read in Genesis of the first encounter with temptation;
Genesis 3:1-7; NLT; The serpent was the shrewdest of all the wild animals the Lord God had made. One day he asked the woman, “Did God really say you must not eat the fruit from any of the trees in the garden?”
“Of course we may eat fruit from the trees in the garden,” the woman replied. “It’s only the fruit from the tree in the middle of the garden that we are not allowed to eat. God said, ‘You must not eat it or even touch it; if you do, you will die.’”
“You won’t die!” the serpent replied to the woman. “God knows that your eyes will be opened as soon as you eat it, and you will be like God, knowing both good and evil.”
The woman was convinced. She saw that the tree was beautiful and its fruit looked delicious, and she wanted the wisdom it would give her. So she took some of the fruit and ate it. Then she gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it, too. At that moment their eyes were opened, and they suddenly felt shame at their nakedness. So they sewed fig leaves together to cover themselves.
Notice how the serpent began the conversation; “did God really say”, “you won’t die”, “God is trying to hide something from you”. There it is in a nutshell, the rational we use to justify temptation. We question the authority. We question the consequences. We question the reasoning about the rules. If we are honest with ourselves, we are familiar with this process.
The challenge is to not go there! When we recognize the direction that leads us into temptation, stop before we start. I know, that is easier said than done. We are much more comfortable asking for forgiveness instead of permission. But we fail to realize one important consideration, bad consequences.
If we avoid the temptation, we avoid the bad consequences. If we give in to it, the bad consequences are real. The passage says; their eyes were opened and they felt shame. If we read a little further, we read they were separated from God and removed from the garden. Oh, and there is the consequence that mankind, from that point forward, was corrupted because of their sin.
Jesus taught us to pray to God not to be led into temptation, but deliver us from evil. That is what God offers us in the sacrifice Jesus made for our salvation, delivery from evil.
We need to realize that we have been led into temptation and agreed to do things that are not beneficial for us. We need to recognize the shortcomings of our understanding and depend on God for guidance and direction.
Adam and Eve were given paradise, the most perfect place on earth. They had fellowship with God. They had the most satisfying and fulfilling life possible. They were convinced to give it up. They listened to a lie and it cost them everything.
Let’s not follow that example. Let’s commit to resist temptation and allow God to show us the way to a satisfying and fulfilling life.