Tuesday, January 2

The Struggle Against Temptation

"Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak." --Matthew 26:41 (NIV)

There is nothing taking place on earth that God has not ordained. This includes temptations. However, one must not conclude that because God has ordained something that He has caused it.

In the Biblical account of Job's trials, one of the most important details is that even Satan must ask God's permission to manipulate the circumstances of a person's life. Although that may be a difficult concept to grasp, it is essential to understanding that God does not tempt mankind; rather, he allows the temptation to take place.

Most Christians agree that everything that happens is part of God's sovereign and perfect plan. How then does temptation fit into this ideal? What is the purpose of temptation, and how does it serve to glorify God? The answer depends on a person's individual vantage point.

Those who are not believers and do not profess an ongoing relation argue that temptation is God's way of tormenting His creatures. Similar to the attitude expressed by Jim Carrey's character in the movie "Bruce Almighty", they regard God as a big mean kid with a magnifying glass, burning the antennae off the heads of insects. If this is truly the case, then giving in to temptation is passive, and results in God ultimately getting His way.

But this is not how the Christian views temptation. Temptation is a natural consequence of living in a fallen world. Mankind's sinful nature will always gravitate toward that which is not beneficial. The ability to resist temptation ultimately comes from the strength provided by the Holy Spirit. In realizing this, the Christian understands his own weakness when juxtaposed with the strength of the Creator God.

Temptation is a source of constant struggle for the Christian. It has been said that since Satan knows he will not be able to torment the Christian for the rest of eternity, then he will torment men of God for as long as that man is of flesh and blood. Again, this demonstrates how, like in the story of Job, God has the final say over what happens in a man's life. Satan may have his day in the life of a Christian, but God holds mankind's soul for an eternity.

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