I just got back from speaking at Piedmont Baptist College in Winston-Salem, NC this morning. I always enjoy speaking to college kids. They are typically earnest, yet appropriately discombobulated. They are at the cusp of adulthood, curiously curious and often full of themselves. I miss those days in my own life having settled into the typical middle-aged morass of having more maturity than energy.
I spoke on the topic of “temptation.” I thought it would be an appropriate subject considering that in a mere couple of weeks, most of them will be back home, with their old friends, visiting their old haunts. I watched some kids pretty much come “undone” during Christmas break during my own college years and the sudden relief from daily college stress often came with a price of stupid decisions and unBiblical behavior.
The subject of temptation is an important one regardless of the age of life in which we find ourselves. Certainly, temptation varies according to the stage of life or even time of year. Things that tempted me when I was younger aren’t the draw as much today, but I find that other things have emerged to replace those youthful temptations. So I’ve penned some thoughts on the topic.
Temptation happens. If you never experience temptation, then youre dead either brain dead or physically dead. We can be tempted to cuss, quit, lie, cheat, steal, murder, trick, do violence, rage, sneak, mock, blaspheme, indulge, gossip, accuse, harm, cover and rebel. Chances are each of us have been tempted to do all of that considerable list and more, and more than once.
A frequent question on the heart of many believers is why doesnt God deliver me from these temptations? Ive spoken to people who struggle with their tempers, with feelings of worthlessness, with homosexual attractions, with materialism, with pride, with gluttony, with adultery and they often say, I dont WANT to be this way how can I get victory? Did God make me this way? Why doesnt He change what I want?
Certainly there are some times when testing comes into our lives and God is in control of the circumstances and situation. He wants to use what is occurring to teach us something, to test our mettle, to mature us, to add to our perspective, to prepare us. If we endure the test, we come out on the other side better and wiser and stronger.
But in the midst of the test, there is also the presence of temptation. This is Satans attempt to sidetrack us, to make our defeat his victory, to provide a way of escape that will weaken us and keep us from maturing spiritually.
There are many examples of this in the Scripture. The Children of Israel would be one of the best examples. God had delivered them from slavery and captivity. He had performed ten miraculous plagues to obtain their release. He had protected their firstborn. He had split the Red Sea. He had given them manna in the dew and fresh water from rocks. Yet, they became thirsty and found only undrinkable bitter water, they turned on God and blamed Him. When Moses was gone a little too long up on the mountain, they took their gold and made an idol. When they tired of Moses leadership, a band of them rose up in rebellion and sought to overthrow him. In the midst of a trial or a test, they gave in to temptation.
Make no mistake, whenever you are under stress and pressure and enduring a trial, Satan is going to do his best to add temptation to do wrong to your burden.
You commit to taking an evangelism or discipleship class and it gets long or hard or inconvenient. Satan will tell you that you arent smart enough, or the teacher isnt interesting enough, or the expectations are too difficult so that youll quit.
You have an illness or someone you love does and you are faced with difficult treatment or even death. Satan will tempt you to get mad at God, to curse God and die, to exact revenge on others, to give in to hopeless depression, to quit or ignore your faith.
You lose your job or get laid off or your car breaks down or an unexpected bill comes along this is a triala test to see if you are willing to trust God and keep your faith steady. Satan will come along and say, Quit tithing, what good is God doing you now that you are in this situation? Perhaps hell tempt you to steal or cheat on your taxes or default on a debt.
Satans goal is to turn your test into temptation.
God will help you endure lifes trials and valleys without making a bad situation worse by succumbing to temptation and complicating the situation with sin.
Scripture tells us twice in the book of Proverbs, There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death. Many believe that we can disregard Gods word, ignore His Spirits leading and are exceptions to Gods universal laws. But eventually they will discover that there is no immunity from the consequences that come from disobeying Gods word.
Temptation is going to enter your life and mine this week. Lets be ready to face it head on but remember that greater is He that is in you than He that is in the world.