Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Tempted and Tried

Tempted and tried
Deep down inside
I can’t deny
That I’m tempted

The words from this song clearly portray an inner battle of the soul in a struggle with sin. This is true whether you consider yourself a believer in Jesus Christ or have never confessed Him as Lord and Saviour.

Everyone of us is and has been tempted at times to do things we innately know are wrong and violate our conscience. Of course the more “liberated” among us will simply declare that this was some moral standard imposed upon them by some dominating authority.

I have seen a strange sight though, Christians who boast in the amount of temptation they experience and how they are able to not give in. This seems rather strange after considering the words of James in chapter 1:13-15;

"Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death".

The presence of temptation in our life reveals to us that we have wandered away from God by our own lust. From this position, we easily fall prey to sin’s destructive influence in our life and reap the fruit of sin, which is death.

For whatever reason, the translators of the KJV used the English word “temptation” for two different Greek words. The first one in 1:2 implies testing for a greater purpose; such as persecution, lack of resources to test our faith, or silence from God on some issue that causes us to seek His principles in His Word. The second Greek word has the connotation of a real temptation for the purpose of ensnaring or enticing, with a final goal of destruction. Praise the Lord, our God does not tempt us in this way but His desire for us is that we might be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

How do we avoid sliding into this wrong kind of temptation? Scriptures give us clear commands to “bring every thought captive to the obedience of Christ”. It all starts with our thought life, if we lose the battle there, we will lose all the way down the line. Let us dwell upon His words today, as David says so simply put; “Thy word have I hid in my heart that I might not sin against Thee”.

Grace and Peace in your walk today.


Daniel said...

The presence of temptation in our life reveals to us that we have wandered away from God by our own lust.

Christ was tempted on all counts even as we are...

I think this little gem needs some more time in the woodshed...


Jim said...

Daniel, I appreciate your comments and would like to know exactly where you see the error in this statement?

What would be a better way of phrasing it?

Also, I wish to offer the following:

1. God does not tempt us.
2. We fall into temptation when we are lead away by our own lusts.

For example, if one possesses pornographic material in their home, they should not expect victory over the sin of lusting; they have made provision for the flesh. An alcoholic who struggles with drinking cannot expect to abstain should he keep intoxicating beverages in his fridge.

So too, when we make provision of any kind, we allow a door for the enemy to tempt us beyond what we are able to resist.

Daniel said...

Jim, the "error" (I prefer "oversight" myself) is in the way you have it worded what you are saying. The text likely reads differently than what you are really trying to say. In print at least, you are saying that everyone who experiences temptation does so because they "...have wandered away from God [to follow their] own lust."

I pointed out that Christ was tempted just as we are to highlight the impossibility of this premise - that is, if experiencing temptation demonstrates that we are wayward, then we are consequently teaching that Christ Himself was wayward in order for Him to be tempted. But Christ was certainly never wayward in this way. This should demonstrate that the "presence of temptation" does -not- reveal that we have wandered away from God.

What I believe you mean to say is that anyone who makes provision for the flesh - that is, those who love recognize that a particular lust infatuates them such that they are constantly snared in its temptation - and even after recognizing this pitfall either do nothing to limit their exposure to it, or go so far as to provide opportunity for themselves to slake that dark thirst -- well, these are indeed wandering from God after their own lusts. They are either still in bondage (unregenerate) or are simply ignoring their victory in Christ out of ignorance or presumption. Whatever the case, they need to not only understand that they have been set free, they need to desire freedom.

Let me know if this clears it up.

Good topic!

Jim said...

Daniel, I had a feeling that is what you had gleaned from that statement. Yes, it was probably not worded accurately enough.

Perhaps this is one of those areas where differing scriptures seem to contradict, and yet we know that all scripture harmonizes completely with the rest.

How would you explain this part of the verse then?

But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust...

It seems to me that the lust inside of a person causes them to be tempted. Further to yield to that temptation would result in sin, and ultimately death.

I gave a couple of physical examples of temptations, but let's consider the mind for a bit. Do you not agree that all temptation begins in the other words, we entertain a thought and then that thought gives way to action.

Job made a covenant with his eyes not to look with lust upon a maiden. He had prepared himself for the times he would be exposed to that temptation. Yet it seems, Christians go merrily headlong into temptation either blindly thinking they are above temptation or falsely assuming it will not affect them.

Let me step on a few toes here for the sake or argument: Do we have the right to watch any and everything we choose that is released by the entertainment industry? Does our liberty in Christ allow us to watch carnal movies that promote laciviousness and immorality? How can a young man watch a sexually promiscuous video and maintain the purity of his thought life? I venture to say nigh to impossible. Yet this has become the norm throughout Christianity and we think nothing of it.

Does this not tend to inflame the lust of the flesh, causing temptation we cannot bear.

I cannot image Jesus Christ sitting through some immoral movie simply so scripture can say he was tempted yet without sin. Isn't that absurd?

Daniel said...

Jim - sorry for taking so long to reply.

...But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust...

Surely, our carnal self is always and ever drawing us into sin. But unless we are following that leading we are not sinning. That was the distinction - the fact that the flesh lusts for its own way is not sin - but the choice to feed that lust is.

I want to be careful here to distinquish between sin and temptation. All flesh (by definition) possesses a carnal appetite. Becoming a Christian doesn't remove our appetite, nor does becoming more mature in our faith remove our carnal appetite.

Victory over sin doesn't mean that we no longer have appetites, it means that Christ in us is overcoming those same carnal appetites by living in and through us.

Let me know if that clears it up?

Jim said...

Thanks Daniel, it's obvious we both agree then on this one. I think of the verse that says, the flesh lusts against the Spirit and the Spirit against the flesh, for these are contrary to the other.

Our soul as the composite of who we are must daily choose whether to please the carnal flesh (self) or to live to God in Christ Jesus.
So really, the battle begins in our hearts...

I appreciate the fellowship.