The Anatomy Of Temptation
“And remember, when you are being tempted, do not say, “God is tempting me.” God is never tempted to do wrong, and He never tempts anyone else. Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death” (James 1:13-15, NLT).
Anatomy simply defined is the structure or internal workings of something. Temptation to sin has a structure. There is a tempter, there are cravings in the Adamic nature of man, there is a pattern or process that leads to the temptation, etc. Understanding the structure or workings of temptation will go a long way in helping serious minded believers to overcome temptation all the time. Below are some important truths to note:
Temptations are distractions that are attractive: The aim of the tempter is to distract and detour us from a good course we are charting. A temptation is an attractive offer. All of us, as human, have certain things to which we are prone to being enticed. We have different cravings and proclivities. Some people are disposed to envy, whereas others are prone to lust for material goods, power, women, etc. King Solomon was said to love many foreign women (1 Kings 11:1). Things appeal to us differently, but we all have one or two things that catch our attention and have the potential to draw us away from God.
Temptations are passing pleasures: The Bible says Moses refused to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin (Hebrews 11:25). Temptation is fleeting, not a permanent phenomenon. Just by holding on and exercising restraint a little bit, we can overcome temptation. But yielding to it weakens our resolve. And our resolve can be so weakened that we get captured by the woven fabric of sinful practices. We are to stand and remain standing and not allow entanglements in our Christian lives (Galatians 5:1).
Temptations test our loyalty and love to God: Every time we are tempted, it’s a time to choose between self-love and God-love. Jesus said, “if you love me keep my commandments” (John 14:15). Often, we delight in God’s laws but it’s clear that not all of us joins in the delight. Our human nature, with its desires, is a rebel against the laws of God. It takes a revelation of the love of God to choose the God way over and above the self-gratifying way. Every time we choose to obey and please God, it shows to Him that we love Him over and above ourselves.
Temptations are things within our reach we aren’t permitted to take: The instruction was clear to Adam in the garden of Eden. God told him that he is free to eat from all the trees in the garden except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2:17). Every tempting offer is always within our reach. At times just walking away or looking away can go a long way to help us overcome.
Temptation has a pattern: Many tend to eat more when they are disappointed or depressed. Many tend to smoke and do drugs when the weather is cold. Men tend to be more frustrated, unkind and edgy when they are broke. We are susceptible to falling and foibles in particular seasons of our life. This is so because Satan is principally the mastermind behind temptations confronting the believer. He is very strategic and knows our weaknesses, especially when we are most vulnerable. Every believer should understand the pattern and processes behind his or her failings. And because temptation has a pattern, it can be nipped in the bud. We can debar our lusts from getting pregnant and delivering a baby. We can further disallow the baby from growing into adulthood where it becomes a killer.
CONCLUSION: The mature Christian is the one who consistently wins over temptations. And these folks are those who have really taken time with the Word of God, ingesting it until it registers in their subconscious and becomes their default mode of behavior. There is no short cut to winning other than opening one’s heart sincerely to the infallible Word of God and exercising oneself in godliness.