“Temptation comes in many shapes!” If you think I am quoting a great Christian leader here or that this is a verse from the Bible, well, you are completely wrong...I found this statement in one of the Baskin Robbins outlet! Yea, even the world thinks there is temptation all around us in many forms and shapes and we can fall into it any time, just as the Bible says. But the huge difference between what the world thinks and the Bible thinks about this matter is that while the world considers falling into temptation or indulging in it is something smart and something which gives you pleasure, the Bible clearly says that if you are falling into it, you are sinning against God and you are just ignoring His authority over you. It is true that falling into temptations can, in many cases, give a momentary pleasure to your flesh, but the ultimate outcome would be something you, as a Christian, will have to regret.
So what exactly is temptation? Most of us think that it is a test brought into our life by God. Indeed, at times, God tests us and temptations happen in our lives with the knowledge and permission of God. However, it is not God, who brings temptations in the lives of His children. James says,” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone.” (James 1:13). When we examine closely, in every temptation we can see a testing part as well as a tempting part. It is God who tests and Satan who tempts. God’s intention of this testing is to rejoice by seeing the genuineness of His child’s faith and love for Him; Satan’s intention is to make God’s child sin and go against the expectation of God.
Another interesting thing about temptation is that Satan plans and executes temptations so well that at the moment of facing a temptation, we will feel that everything around us (except the Holy Spirit within us) is whispering to us “Hey, falling into this is the best course of action you can take at this moment”. In other words, Satan makes everything favourable for us to fall into the temptation and there will not be many things, which will keep us from falling into it. See the temptation he gave Lord Jesus Himself (Luke 4). He tempted Jesus to turn the stone into bread, when Jesus was hungry after a fasting of forty days. In Job’s case, his wife herself told him, it is a foolishness not to sin at that moment. When Joseph was tempted by Satan, there was no chance that anyone of the people who knew him (his father/ brothers/relatives) would come to know if he sinned. There was none greater in the house than him; none of the men was inside the house at that moment and moreover, the master’s wife herself had taken the initiative. Can the situation become more favourable to sin?
This can be the way in which Satan approaches us too. You might be getting a bribe or a way to make illegal money when you are badly in need of money. You might be getting the offer of alcohol or drugs at a moment when you are mentally crushed. You might be getting an urge to put a fake experience on your resume at a point when you are totally exhausted trying to find a job as a fresher. You might be getting a very ‘good’ caring friend, who is an unbeliever (and most probably from the opposite sex), at a time when you feel quite lonely, being away from your family and friends. (And most often, this friend gets promoted till the spouse/life partner level and many a time, the wonderful justification we hear is “Through me, he/she will come to know Christ! “ I doubt, if even the Lord is aware of such a way of winning souls for Him!) How hard it will be to resist such a temptation or chance of a temptation being formed? You will never know till you endure it to the last point without giving in! And remember, there is nothing grey like falling into temptation a little or falling into it at last, it‘s purely black or white- either falling or not falling.
Satan exploits the weakness of our flesh to form temptations. He can use any weakness of our flesh like our hunger (Luke 4), physical weakness (Matt 26: 40), mental agony, fears in our heart (Matt 26:72), desires, lusts or love of the world (1 Timothy 6:9) to produce a temptation. James 1: 14-15 gives us a clear picture of how a temptation gets moulded. But does it mean that if we fall into temptation, the full blame is on Satan and the flesh? Not really! Right from the beginning of the Old Testament, we can see that God has always given us a free will to choose what we want –right or wrong. Getting a temptation is not a sin, but falling into it, definitely is...We can’t do much against getting a temptation (other than avoiding situations which can possibly give rise to temptations), but it’s us, who have to keep ourselves from falling into it!
So how do we guard ourselves from falling into temptation? 1. Jesus, the Lord Himself who overcame all the temptations as a man, says “Watch and pray” (Matt: 26:40). 2. Peter, who fell into temptation many times, but later repented, got restored and did wondrous works for God, tells us “Be sober (self-controlled), Be vigilant” (2 Pet: 5: 8). 3. Paul, who was a chosen vessel before God and who suffered a lot for His name’s sake, exhorts us, “Put on the whole armour of God” (Word of God, Salvation, Faith, Preparation of Gospel, Righteousness, Truth) (Eph 6:14-17)
For all of us who think we stand, let us take heed, lest we fall. And for all of us who think we’ve already fallen, now is the chance to repent and turn back to Him. God is always ready to give us a new beginning if we repent genuinely!