Handling Temptation In Light of Spiritual Maturity
Maturity takes time, and a patient person exhibits maturity in trials. We all experience trials, whether great or small, during our lifespan. Wiersbe says, “Trials may be tests sent by God, or they may be temptations sent my Satan and encouraged by our own fallen nature.”
As already mentioned, we all face temptation. When that happens, we are prone to wonder, “where is this coming from?” To begin with, the book of James tells us that God is not the tempter. James 1:13 says, “Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am tempted by God’, for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone.” Meaning, God does not take the action of tempting people. However, God does allow believers to experience trials, but does not tempt people with evil. It is simply not His nature. He is pure, good, holy, and righteous, therefore, He has nothing that resembles evil. Wiersbe writes, “When our circumstances are difficult, we may find ourselves complaining against God, questioning His love, and resisting His will. At this point, Satan provides us with an opportunity to escape the difficulty. This opportunity is a temptation.” Therefore, God is not the tempter, rather, Satan is the tempter and accuser.
God is not the tempter
The tension is the fact we all experience different kinds of trials and temptations, and yet we pray and ask God to remove those from us. God sometimes does remove those things, and at other times He does not. Again, Wiersbe’s wisdom is valuable when he says, “Certainly, God does not want us to yield to temptation, yet neither can He spare us the experience of temptation. We are not God’s sheltered people; we are God’s scattered people. If we are to mature, we must face testings and temptations.”
As believers, we must be discerning about temptations because they are deceptive. James 1:14 says, “but each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed.” Discernment is important. Furthermore, “No temptation appears as temptation; it always seems more alluring than it really is” (Wiersbe). Deception is a very dangerous thing and believers must be on guard at all times. Again, James 1:16 encourages us to “not be deceived.” That is an encouragement to not fall into the trap of the world’s deception and temptations. In fact, when we are deceived, it is so difficult to see the consequences, particularly if we are lulled fall into the temptation. Moreover, “temptation always carries with it some kind of bait that appeals to our natural desires. The bait not only attracts us, but it also hides the fact that yielding to the desire will eventually bring sorrow and punishment” (Wiersbe).
How do we deal with the bait? How do we handle the temptations? “When Jesus was tempted by Satan, He always dealt with the temptation on the basis of the Word of God. Three times He said, “It is written” (Wiersbe). Knowing the Bible helps believers to be discerning in dealing with bait. Also, believers are challenged to trust God more by walking by faith and not by sight. “When you know the Bible, you can detect the bait and deal with it decisively. This is what it means to walk by faith and not by sight” (Wiersbe). Additionally, remembering the consequences of the bait will help us to follow God’s commands for our lives instead of falling for the bait and temptations of life.
Lastly, James 1:17-18 describes God as being good. The Bible tells us that God is good. Satan wants us to believe that God does not care. In fact, “One of the enemy’s tricks is to convince us that the Father is holding out on us, that he does not really love us and care for us” (Wiersbe). However, as followers of Christ, we know this to not be the truth. The truth is that God is good, and He gives good gifts. “Everything good in this world comes from God. If it did not come from God, it is not good” (Wiersbe).
Everything good comes from God
Practically, prayer is one of the best ways to handle temptation. Crying out to God, Who is all righteuous and all good, is a great way to handle temptation. Along with prayer is memorizing Scripture verses. Knowing God’s Word helps us to combat temptations from our enemy. Next, thinking about the goodness of God is a great way to handle temptation. Reflecting on God’s goodness helps us remember His love for us and His will for our lives. Also, talking with a spiritually mature friend about temptations is a great way to face them. The body of Christ, the church, is supposed to be a place of encouragement. Therefore, sharing our struggles with those we trust is a great way to face temptations.
How are you facing your temptations?
Are you memorizing Scripture?
Have you prayed to God about your temptations?
Have you shared with someone who is spiritually mature?