Is something shiny capturing your attention to draw you away from God? Each of us risks abandoning our desires to physical pleasure, power, or pride (see 1 John 2:16), and the results of doing so are devastating. In order to help us make sense of why bad things happen to good people, Perspective Number Six is: Temptation. However, we must first understand that God is never the author of temptation. Satan is.
Jesus’ half-brother James who was pastor of the Jerusalem church captured this concept when he wrote to believers scattered among the nations: “When tempted, no one should say, ‘God is tempting me.’ For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone” (James 1:13). God is not a secret agent with evil. He is totally holy, pure, and flawless.
Temptation is not a sin. By definition, we cannot be tempted, unless we know what is right. Although Satan lures us with a bait to lead us into his trap, he is powerless to force us to succumb to the temptation. Rather, our sinful nature is intrigued with interests outside God’s design: “But each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death” (James 1:14-15). Desiring life apart from God is sin, and it leads to death, separation from Him.
Still, there is hope: “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. 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 stand up under it” (1 Corinthians 10:13). We will all be tempted, but God will always provide a doorway to freedom. Regardless of the darkness surrounding the temptation, we will find a glimmer of light illuminating a pathway we can follow straight to Him. Jesus was tempted in every way that we are, and yet, He did not sin (see Hebrews 4:15). He used the Word of God to ward off the tempter (see Matthew 4:1-11).
How are you being tempted? Are you contemplating padding your company expense account because others do? Are you captivated with the thought of clicking where you shouldn’t? Are you mulling over the pursuit of someone who is not your spouse? Are you climbing the corporate ladder, while neglecting your family? Does a particular behavior or substance outside God’s design dominate your thoughts? Like Jesus, use the Word of God to conquer temptation. Memorize 1 Corinthians 10:13, recite it daily, and follow the light of Christ toward His doorway to freedom. Only He can satisfy your desires, and only He can make you new again.