What About Temptation?

A survey of the top temptations Americans said they faced noted the following as either “often” or “sometimes”:

  • Worrying or being anxious
  • Procrastinating or putting things off
  • Eating too much
  • Spending too much time on media
  • Being lazy
  • Spending more money than they could afford
  • Gossiping about others
  • Being jealous of others
  • Viewing pornography or sexually explicit material
  • Abusing alcohol or drugs
When people were asked why they give in to temptations, the top four reasons were:
  • I am not sure
  • To escape or get away from “real life.”
  • To feel less pain or loneliness
  • To satisfy other people’s expectations of me
“No man knows how bad he is till he has tried very hard to be good. The silly idea is that good people do not know what temptation means. This is an obvious lie. Only those who try to resist temptation know how strong it is. After all, you find out the strength of the German army by fighting it, not by giving in. A man who gives in to temptation after five minutes simply does not know what it would have been like an hour later. That is why bad people, in one sense, know very little about badness. They have lived a sheltered life by always giving in. We never find out the strength of the evil impulse inside us until we try to fight it” (C. S. Lewis. Mere Christianity, Book 3, Chapter 11).

Every human being is susceptible to certain temptations more than others. I have categorized some of the major yet subtle, often not discussed temptations I have seen and heard from people throughout 45 years of church ministry.

  • The temptation to choose to look good over fulfilling God’s Great Commission.
  • The temptation to choose popularity over self-respect.
  • The temptation to choose certainty over risk.
  • The temptation to choose popularity over personal integrity.
  • The temptation to choose peace at any price over productive conflict.
  • The temptation to choose self-protection over trusting God.
  • The temptation to choose self-reliance over God-interdependence.
The challenge of these temptations is that we are often unaware that we have them in our lives. These temptations can be subtle, but the results of giving to them are significant. When things go wrong, do we tend to “power up” to fix it or “center down” to see what God wants? Do we tend to make our plans first, then ask God to bless them? Do we find ourselves going to God when we are in a “BIG mess” but otherwise handle things on our own? Can we quickly discern the difference between operating on our power and operating on God’s power? What does it mean to be interdependent upon God rather than independent of the Lord?

John 12:49 (NIV) For I did not speak of my own accord, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and how to say it. John 15:4-5 (NIV) Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.

What can we do? Ask the Holy Spirit to show us the dangerous temptations we face. Ask for help to see it and face it. Be willing to do whatever it takes to overcome and resist it. Be ready to admit our sins and confess and repent of our transgressions, asking the Lord to forgive us and give us grace.

Remember that “the steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:22-23).

See you Sunday!
Pastor Steve

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