Life and Temptation

Temptation

Life is filled with temptations. These temptations can be small and they can be substantial. Temptation that you experience may be a real trial for you, but for others it may be merely trivial, and vice versa. What is it that causes such a struggle within us when it comes to temptation? It would be easy a natural tendency of people is to shift the blame away from themselves. We may blame the environment we are in, the upbringing we had or even our personality type. The problem with doing this is that we are wrongly diagnosing the problem therefore don’t receive the biblical solution. The reality is that there is a deeper and more potent source causing the lure to temptation. What is it? Before we consider some specific strategies on fighting temptation, I want to briefly consider the source and sequence of temptation from . 

THE SOURCE OF TEMPTATION
James makes it clear that God is not the source of our temptation. He cannot be tempted because He has no capacity or vulnerability to temptation (; ; ) and therefore He does not tempt (). So then, where does temptation come from? says, “But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire“. He illustrates the source of temptation with fishing metaphors. Like a fish that is enticed by the bait and then lured away, we fall into temptation when our “own desire” drags us to the bait. The problem is within us (cf. ). Again, notice that the text says, “his own desire“. We all have different tendencies, which come from our different upbringings and personal choices in life. One person’s temptation isn’t always the same as an others. Nonetheless they are still real.

THE SEQUENCE OF TEMPTATION
Consider the sequence of temptation. In , James changes metaphors from fishing to gestation (“Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death“). “Desire” represents the mother and its child is “sin“. The gestation period of a human is nine months, whereas the gestation process of temptation instantaneous. Once mother “desire” has given birth to her child “sin“, it grows, and if allowed to become mature it “brings forth death“. The apostle Paul said on the same lines, “the wages of sin is death” (). Sin should not become the object of our entertainment. The results of allowing our desires to conceive are devastating, and must be avoided.

James concludes this section with a firm yet pastoral warning, “do not be deceived, my beloved brothers” (). It is not God who brings such evils in our life; the problem is with our own desires. Though we may find ourselves in a difficult and trying situation, we are to inform our desires so as to trust God. In the words of the great puritan pastor-theologian John Owen,

Temptations and occasions put nothing into a man, but only draw out what was in him before”.

13 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. 14 But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. 15 Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.

For you are not a God who delights in wickedness;
evil may not dwell with you.

And one called to another and said:

“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts;
the whole earth is full of his glory!”

Why do you make me see iniquity,
and why do you idly look at wrong?
Destruction and violence are before me;
strife and contention arise.

13 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one.

14 But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire.

19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander.

15 But Peter said to him, “Explain the parable to us.”

23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

16 Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers.

The Value of Varied Prayer

Praying Hands

It is the clear teaching of Scripture that we are to give ourselves to consistent prayer (; ; ; ; ). However, at times we can find it hard as we may  struggle with how we ought to pray.

The manner of prayer is a struggle for many, but it ought not to prevent us from praying! We must not be under the impression that there is a single formula to prayer. As we study the Scriptures we learn that prayer takes place in varied ways. An excellent example concerning the manner of prayer is what is most famously known as the Lord’s Prayer (). Though it was not a prayer that He prayed, it is His prayer in the sense that He created it. This prayer provides us with a model of how to pray (click here for a previous post on this prayer).

A common devise to help us remember the different kinds of prayer is the ACTS (Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication) acrostic. Consider the following Scripture references to help inform the different ways we pray:

Adoration
One aspect of the believer’s prayer is adoration. This involves praising, worshiping and exalting the Lord. When we think about what Scripture says concerning who God is, there is much we can praise Him for. The psalmist declared, Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised; 
and His greatness is unsearchable” (). When you pray, take time to adore the Lord.

Confession
A second aspect of our prayer time is confession. All of us sin. This is not to be ignored. If you are a believer you will never be condemned (cf. ), but your sin does interfere with your fellowship and joy int he Lord. What do we do about it? The apostle John said,  “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (). Confession of our sin is to be an ongoing practice in our prayers.

Thanksgiving
When we stop and consider all that the Lord has done for us and continues to do for us, we have lots to be thankful for! To be thankful is the will of God (), so it is an essential part of the Christian life. We are to never forget all His benefits (). The words of the psalmist instruct us well, “Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever” ().

Supplication
The final aspect of pray we will consider in this post is supplication. This refers to the requests that we make in prayer. This tends to be the most commonly employed aspect of prayer. If we rightly use the previous aspects, our requests ought to be in line with what will honour the Lord. Healthy prayer will involve requests (cf. ). We are commanded to Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God” (). Our supplications among many other things will include prayer for the lost (; ; ; ), prayer for provision (), forgiveness (), protection (), wisdom () and our leaders ().

We are to take time and pray. Let us make use of the variety of ways God has provided for us in coming before His throne of grace.

23 Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by ceasing to pray for you, and I will instruct you in the good and the right way.

Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.

17 pray without ceasing,

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.

casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.

Pray then like this:

“Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.

10 Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.

11 Give us this day our daily bread,
12 and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.

13 And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.

Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised,
and his greatness is unsearchable.

8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits,

136:1 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good,
for his steadfast love endures forever.

11 Give us this day our daily bread,
12 and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.

13 And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.

do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

23 Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by ceasing to pray for you, and I will instruct you in the good and the right way.

43 And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”

59 And as they were stoning Stephen, he called out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60 And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep.

10:1 Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved.

11 Give us this day our daily bread,

12 and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.

13 And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.

2:1 First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior,

Fighting the Flesh

walk-in-the-spirit

It is the believer’s duty and delight to love Christ by keeping His commands (). However, this is not always easy. The Christian lives with a conflict and struggle: they are simultaneously a saint and a sinner. Positionally, the Christian is justified and is a saint. Yet every believer knows the battle with indwelling sin. The cause of such a conflict is the flesh. The word flesh is used various ways in the Scriptures. It can refer to the physical human body (), human nature () and human sinfulness (). It is the third description that I have in view in this post.

Continue reading Fighting the Flesh

15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.

39 See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.”

14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.