Temptation is a sure thing. For Edmund, in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, temptation came in the form of Turkish Delight. For Miley Cyrus, it comes in the form of fame and the applause of men. How will Satan, the world and your flesh tempt you today? Will you be tempted to use improper language? Will you find yourself longing to view pornography? Will you be lured into lying on a school exam, or in a business transaction or court of law? Will you indulge in too much food and wine? Will you be tempted to hide income, abort a baby, or pursue an unjust divorce? Perhaps your temptation will come in the form of entertainment; will you be tempted to spend too much time playing games and chatting instead of using your hours more responsibly? I am not sure how you will be tempted, but I am sure it is coming … again.
Temptation is a bad thing. It is one of Satan’s weapons; one he used very successfully with our first parents in the Garden of Eden. And not just with them, for our Scripture presents us with testimony after testimony of how Satan presented diabolical temptations. Eve and Esau were tempted by food. Lot and Achan were tempted by materialism. Lot’s wife and Israel were tempted by forbidden desires in their past. Judah and David were tempted by sex. Solomon was tempted by anything and everything. Paul understands the danger of temptation and teaches Timothy to avoid it; to flee. (2 Timothy 2:22) Jesus also understands the horrors associated with temptation. He teaches his disciples to pray that the Heavenly Father might not lead us into the place of temptation. (Matthew 6:13) It is better for one to remove a limb than to allow that body part to exist and tempt you to disobey the Lord. (Matthew 5:29) James sums it up by describing the devastating consequences awaiting those who succumb to temptation; temptation leads to sin, and sin leads to death. (James 1:15) Yes, temptation has been the ruin of many.
Temptation is a good thing. Inspired Scripture presents temptation as a blessed and joyful thing. James writes, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials (tests, temptations) of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. (James 1:2-4) So, how can temptation be good news?
Temptation is a an immediate call to worship and prayer. When Christians are tempted, there is always a way of escape. If, in the midst of our temptation, we will commune with Christ in prayer and talk with him about those things that are good, pure, holy and righteous, the Spirit will be inflamed, Christ will be pleased, the Devil will be humbled, and we will find ourselves walking in victory. However, if when we are tempted, we pray not, the Spirit will be quenched, Christ will be saddened, the Devil will rejoice, and we will suffer the consequences of our folly.
So, later today when you are tempted, two spiritual beings are calling for your attention. Satan is calling for your allegiance. He wants you to follow him as did one-third of the angels in heaven. However, at the same time, God is calling for your attention as well. There may be some truth to the cartoon that has a devil on one shoulder and an angel on the other. God and Satan are seeking your vote, and in the moment of temptation, you will make a choice. You will listen to someone and follow his leadership. My question for you is, “Who will you worship?” Who will you prove to love most? Will you worship Satan? Will you worship yourself? Or will you use temptation to cause you to bow the knee and spend a few minutes in prayer. If you do, the Spirit will be inflamed, Christ will be pleased, the Devil will be humbled, and you will be encouraged and strengthened. You might even be able to rejoice that you were tempted.