Dealing With Temptation
“When tempted, no one should say, ‘God is tempting me.’ For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed.”James 1:13-14, NIV
Temptation. It’s bound to happen to each of us. Again and again, unfortunately. James doesn’t say if we’re tempted. He says when we’re tempted.
After all, even Jesus was tempted. Remember Satan’s attempts to get Jesus to sin when he was in the wilderness? (Matthew 4:1-11)
The question is, what will we do when we’re tempted? Because being tempted isn’t sin. Giving in to the temptation is. So, when we’re being tempted, will we let our desires just drag us away? From God? From God’s will? Or will we do everything we can to fight the temptation?
Thankfully, James gives us a way to do just that: to fight temptation. I didn’t really pick up on it when I began studying James in my personal devotions. I actually started out thinking James was having a really hard time staying on track in his letter to believers. He was jumping from one topic to another, with seemingly no connection between them. Why did James move from trials to wisdom and from wisdom to doubt and then on to pride and from pride to perseverence? All in the first half of chapter one! I was stumped.
Until I decided to apply two tools for studying the Bible: asking questions and looking for connections. Why did James write his letter this way? What was the connection between the topics he was covering?
Most importantly, for the sake of this post, why did he go from writing about temptation to discussing “every good and perfect gift” (James 1:17, NIV).
And then it hit me. There’s no need to give in to the temptations we experience. Why? Well, James tells us why. Because “every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father” (James 1:17, NIV).
If I’m being tempted, it’s because I think that what’s being held out to me is desirable. But Scripture tells us that the good and perfect gifts are from God. Why settle for those inferior things? So many things are set before us as desirable. We’re bombarded by ads that tell us we need this or that. Our sinful desires call to us, pull at us, and they come in many forms: Why do I continue to harbor resentment about what someone said to me? Why waste my time playing solitaire or watching too much TV? Why eat that bowl of ice cream when I know it will raise my blood sugar? Why . . . ? I’m sure you can add your own temptations.
Why do we give in to any of these when God has something better for us? He has good gifts for us. More than that, he has perfect gifts for us. Why let ourselves be dragged off to something else?
Think about it: God wants what’s best for us. And, thankfully, since He’s all-knowing, He knows what’s best for us. Best of all, He’s omnipotent, all powerful, so He’s able to give us what’s best for us. If we’ll let Him.
Soul Refreshers for your week:
- Take some time to think about what tempts you. Maybe even jot some of those things down. For each of those, can you believe that God has something better for you?
- Memorize James 1:17. Use it to help you when you’re tempted.
- Don’t forget to pray, asking God for help: help to recognize temptation when it comes, help to overcome the temptation, help to believe that God has something better for you.
- Some other verses to consider:
- “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are–yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Hebrews 4:15-16, NIV).
- “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it” (1 Corinthians 4:13, NIV).
- “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you” (James 4:7).