Farmville Enterprise July 11, 2018
According to the Barna Group, a Christian research firm, 60% of respondents self-reported in a 2013 survey that they often or sometimes were tempted to live in a state of noticeable anxiety while the same number said they were often stuck in habits of procrastination. 55% were overwhelmed by the temptation to overeat; 44% were tempted to overuse electronics or social media and 41% were tempted by laziness.
While our primary focus should be on loving God, remembering his grace and mercy, followed by loving our neighbor, we also are to live in obedience and holiness. Each of us faces temptations every day to go our own way. Bad choices that are alluring to one person might not be enticing to the next, but we all have certain negative inclinations. It is important to remember that temptation does not equate to sin; Jesus was tempted yet remained sinless.
“Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, ‘If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.’” (Matthew 4:1-3)
“Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (Hebrews 4:14-16)
The devil is called “the tempter.” That label in no way applies to God.
“Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him. When tempted, no one should say, ‘God is tempting me.’ For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.” (James 1:12-15)
Most of us are all too familiar with the realization that we fall short in certain areas of our lives. The good news is that through God we can overcome our weaknesses. As we study the Scripture, pray and intentionally grow in obedience we find how well-equipped the Lord has made us to defeat temptation. Imperfect people that we are, God will continue to bring his good work in us to completion.
Jesus taught the disciples saying, “This, then, is how you should pray: ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.” (Matthew 6:9-13)
“So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall. No temptation has seized you except what is common to humankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” (1 Corinthians 10:12-13)