07 February, 2013
One definition of temptation is a desire to do something, wrong or unwise. The truth is when we are tempted it does not mean we sin. Although whatever comes across our mind trying to entice us, draws our mind and heart to do something unwise, wrong, filthy or even vile might not be our fault. While we are not responsible for the thoughts that simply drop by in our mind, we are however responsible how we chose to entertain them.
Oswald Chambers said: “Not to be tempted would mean that we were already so shameful that we would be beneath contempt. Yet many of us suffer from temptations we should never have to suffer, simply because we have refused to allow God to lift us to a higher level where we would face temptations of another kind.” A person’s inner nature, what he possesses in the inner, spiritual part of his being, determines what he is tempted by on the outside. The temptation fits the true nature of the person being tempted and reveals the possibilities of his nature. Every person actually determines or sets the level of his own temptation, because temptation will come to him in accordance with the level of his controlling, inner nature.”
This quote above has so many implications that one can use it over and over throughout one’s walk with God. It is true that the type of temptation we face changes as we get to know God deeper as we learn to abide and remain grounded in Him through our identity in Him. Oswald is right by saying we refuse to allow God to lift us up higher. In fact, I know people who have been Christian for decades, yet suffer temptation that a baby in the faith is dealing with.
Satan is relentlessly trying to take us to places that go beyond God’s boundaries for us. Often he tempts us so gradually, that we are led to sin and we do not understand how we arrived there. Some of us do not even have the courage to acknowledge our sin, instead we blame Satan. But in reality Satan is just being Satan. He is doing what he knows best. It is our job to make sure we are fit in the faith so we can stand strong and empowered to meet with him head on.
I will give you an example: Two years after I became a Christian, God made it clear to me that my body was His temple. I guess this was very important for Him to tell me because He knew there were hard times ahead since I no longer had a spouse. This was the late nineties. To help me out He gave me the gift of celibacy which I knew nothing about until He told me. To my surprise, it was just so that I could get deeper in Him.
Eight years ago, He took away the gift of celibacy. So, there were nights that I could not sleep, some nights I cried myself to sleep. When I asked God “what gives?” He told me that I had to learn to do not to succumb to temptation to glorify Him if I wanted to be victorious. I raked my brain off trying to understand what that meant. I do not mind telling you the challenge to remain celibate without defiling yourself is enormous and through the pain a lot of time, I found God really mean.
Now, I understand what He meant when He said that I had to do it to glorify Him. What He did not tell me, this was something that I had to become and it was not in my power to produce in me. Temptation truly is easier to overcome as you live the abiding life. There you find protection, balance and a strong spiritual willingness to overcome. The reason I call this a spiritual willingness to overcome, is because you are not doing it as if you do not want to do Satan’s dirty job. But, the main reason behind your motives to resist with your mind, your heart and the willingness not to go there, is something that seems to be a strong sense of moral integrity. This sense of moral integrity definitely belongs to the new nature. I know the difference because I know when I am in spirit and in the flesh. I also know the person I am in the flesh does not have this superior moral integrity that flows through my choices so easily. This moral integrity when you act on it, actually glorifies God. This moral integrity has behind it the fact that I know I am His child, so, what Satan is trying to lure me with, is non-negotiable as far as I am concerned. I cannot be the King’s child and wrestle in the mud with Satan. I have to keep up my decorum.
This is why Paul commanded us to walk in the Spirit. In this stinking fleshly part of us, it is easy to let temptation gets the best of us. It overpowers us and before we know it, we find that we get over God’s boundaries for us.
Don’t entertain those thoughts when they come to mind, do not rationalize them, do not indulge yourself. A simple example of that for both men and women would be, as you surf the internet even with all that you put in place not to encounter pornography, you find that once in a while, one of them somehow makes its way to you. Your only course of action is to close your browser so fast that you get dizzy. Not only that, purposely bring your mind back to God right away. You can do that by remember a verse, or a moment you had with Him, who you are in Him, anything that would allow this filth not to find a foothold in your life. The minute you allow yourself to look for a fraction of a second, it exerts an influence and your flesh reacts to it. I am not telling you anything that I have not put into practice in my life.