The Reality of Temptation

I have hidden your word in my heart
that I might not sin against you.”- Psalm 119:11 (NIV)

I’ll say upfront that I’ve never been a big fan of reality t.v. I watch ‘Dancing With The Stars’ with my wife here and there, and I saw the ‘American Idol’ finale a couple of years ago. But that’s about it. Other shows like ‘Who Wants To Marry My Nanny’ and ‘Walmart 911’ just don’t appeal to me….

Wait, were those real titles ? They’re all a big jumble to me.

Anyway, there was one reality show a few years back that really bugged me. I won’t bother to give the name, but it had temptation in its title. I looked it up on Google and found the description for it. In the show, couples were sent to an island and “…agreed to live with a group of singles of the opposite sex, in order to test the strength of their relationships.” I mean, are you serious ? Who does this ?

For some reason, I thought about that show this week. In the bible study class I’m in now, we’re working through a short book called “Growing In Christ”. The chapter for the coming week is “Assurance of Victory” which deals specifically with temptation. And temptation can come in different forms. Maybe we think about cutting a corner here and there at work or in school. It doesn’t necessarily have to be the kind of nonsense that those contestants on that show signed up for.

Jesus showed us the best way to deal with temptation in the Gospel of Matthew. Three separate times, Satan presents Him with difficult tests, and each time, Jesus recalls the book of Deuteronomy and responds with three powerful words…

“It is written….”

I’ve heard several sermons and discussions on temptation, and many of them suggest we simply steer clear of situations that will tempt us. It’s a good start, but it has to be complemented with the Word of God as a foundation. The scripture verse for our class this week is from 1st Corinthians…

“No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. 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 Cor 10:13 (NIV).

The way out that God provides us is found in our Bibles. Psalm 119 is a great example of this. Studying God’s Word and calling on it the way Jesus did gives us confidence that we can rise above temptation when the time comes.

I wonder if any of those contestants brought their Bibles to that island …

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4 responses to “The Reality of Temptation

  1. I’ve often wondered about temptation. As a reformed atheist, I look back at the things that tempted me, and they were never “bad” things. That is, they’re not things I now think of as bad. It was, for instance my sexuality that I viewed as a temptation. Or skipping church. Now these things I see as a natural part of who I am: my sexuality is a source of strength and I don’t want to be preached to by someone who wants me to conform to a community, to forsake my individuality. Truly immoral things, things that hurt other people, were never like temptations, they were more like, small-mindedness, like I didn’t think about my actions, like I didn’t think past myself.

  2. Great point. The Word is our Sword, what we use to defend ourselves and attack when necessary (see Ephesians 6 and Hebrews 4:12). But there’s also a time to run away from danger. Paul says “flee from sexual immorality” (1 Corinthians 6:18). If I was conned into going onto that island show, I’d be running…er…swimming off that island as fast as I could!

  3. Fleeing temptation is key when we can.
    And often, we can, but we don’t.
    I Corinthians 6:18 tells us to FLEE sexual immorality. (and I just looked up and saw that amyletinsky pointed that out!)
    And Jesus, when teaching us how to prayer, tells us in Matthew 6:13 to ask “And lead us not into temptation.”
    Prayer greatly helps us in prevention!
    E.M. Bounds (great man of prayer) said in his book “Weapon of Prayer”: “Prayer breaks down bad living, and bad living breaks down prayer.” (or something like that… I don’t have the book in front of me)

  4. Thanks for your comments everyone. Amy and Michelle, thank you for also pointing out how important it is to flee from or avoid these situations when you can, and for the Scripture verses. You are both a real inspiration to me 🙂

    A while back, I heard James Merritt say in a sermon that you can usually ask yourself two questions if you find yourself in these situations…1) should I be here ? and 2) should I go there ? Good advice to keep in mind…

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