Life can be like a jungle; unexpected things lurk in unknown places. Temptation can be described like this, it can catch us by surprise, holding us hostage. The struggle is real.
How we are made is so intricate. The Psalmist says that we are “fearfully and wonderfully made”. Just like nature, so is our anatomy – it points to a designer. God made us, so he knows us best, and loves us the most.
After Adam and Eve sinned our flesh is drawn to depravity in Psalms 119:25. Our “humanness” gravitates towards self-centered desires. The need to be loved, heard, and cared for can be very powerful and a guiding force in our lives. The devil studies and knows our strengthens and weaknesses. He is not creative but works in patterns. In studying our actions and reactions he manipulates accordingly.
Anatomy of Temptation
“Temptation” is a suggestion to think and act in a way that doesn’t glorify God. The capture of our attention and a plea to our lust patterns (lust of the eye, the lust of the flesh and the pride of life) can capture the heart. “Lust” could be defined as reaching for something that God hasn’t given. Feelings stir up the emotions and focus in on the present need rather than the long-term consequence. The lack of the fear of the Lord develops habits that produce inordinate desires that give a wandering eye and heart.
We see the anatomy of temptation in James 1:14-16:
“Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death. So, don’t be misled, my dear brothers and sisters”.
Pornography is a mistress and reduces man to a piece of bread and a life to destruction. The privacy and anonymity of selfishness consume the man. The alcoholic feels invisible and invincible but collateral damage is in their wake. The addict thinks he can manage his sin and hide it from everyone else. He lies to himself saying “I am not hurting anyone, I deserve it, God understands and will forgive me, I am only human!” These justifications seem logical, but the flesh will war against the spirit and destroy the soul’s ability to receive. The apostle Paul tells us in 1 Timothy 5:6 “he who lives in pleasure Is dead while they still live.”
Sometimes we minimize sin and pacify the potential consequences. A good reality check is to ask ourselves – where will this decision take us?
The way back
Willpower or even remorse won’t give what is needed to overcome. We need a steady intake of truth to carry us out of the pit. The apostle Paul shares in Galatians 5:16 “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.” The emphasis for victory is walking in the Spirit.
Exposing the lie is the first step to turning things around. The apostle Paul knew who he was, and who he was not. He states Romans 6:20 -he was NOT his sin.
The most powerful lie is the one that is closest to the truth. Here are a few to “take captive in the truth”:
- God doesn’t know what I need
- My need is never going to be met
- If people knew me, they would want nothing to do with me
- I must change to fit in and be accepted.
1 Peter 1:4, Peter points to the promises of God and Gods divine nature as being the “way of escape” from corruption through lust. What is Gods truth promising you? Our faith is based on what God has done for us. He knows us better than we know ourselves and he has HIS best prepared.
2 Corinthians 2:14 “we are called to always triumph.” Failure often screams out a very different message. The same snare may trip us up, but God is able to bring you through in Jude 1:24.
Here are a few ways to experience his power.
- Find a fellowship based on Agape Love. This agapic relationship means that you are accepted and loved no matter what. Agape love does the healing.
- Identify triggers – Hunger, stress, anger, boredom and genetical family history. Be honest and chart patterns.
- Premeditative escape plan. Have a plan to execute. No plan means no change.
- Accountability – someone to call to derail the spiral downward.
The devil is defeated! He connives to usurp authority in any way that he can. Don’t give away your purity, peace, and strength to the highest bidder! Wait and believe God has his best prepared for you! Hold fast and the temptation will pass!
Jason is a graduate from Maryland Bible College and Seminary, and presently he leads the Pastoral Care Team of Greater Grace Church in Baltimore. Since age 16, Jason has been involved with mission work among the former Soviet-Bloc countries in Eastern Europe, as well as in Asia, and in the United States. While living in Ukraine, he helped church plant three new churches that continue to thrive today under trained nationals. He has also written five books and has his own podcast (tinyurl.com/IRpodcast)