Wednesday, June 24, 2009


Temptation pulls on the heart, seduces the will, and entices its victim into committing sin, developing a sin habit, and eventually leads to abandoning oneself to a sinful lifestyle. This can be a long, drawn out process,such as a person that drinks becoming an alcoholic over many years; or it can be an immediate change, such as a young woman abandoning herself to promiscuity after her first sexual encounter.

James wrote, “But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed” (James 1:14, KJV). (The writer is using the term lust in a broad sense that includes all illegitimate desire.) When a person has been successfully enticed, in attempting to fulfill that gratification, he sins. And sin is destructive behavior,whether lying, cheating, stealing, killing, engaging in sexual immorality, or whatever. Temptation is the vehicle that leads to sin. No matter what it is in any category of evil, temptation (the test of moral integrity) through enticement (seduction), leads a person into sin.

The actual mechanism of temptation is very simple: the tempted person develops a desire to think or do something that is unrighteous—sinful. And the various aspects of the soul are involved. Feelings fuel the desire. Memories of past experiences play a role in supporting the feelings. Many times the enticed person rationalizes excuses, often subtle, to justify gratifying the desire. And the will then chooses to follow through on gratification. That is how temptation works on the soul.


The primary motivation to fight temptation is two-fold.

(1) The immediate reason is to keep oneself from being hurt, or even destroyed. This can be easily observed in the ruined lives of alcoholics who have hid in the bottle for many years, and in the terminally diseased people who have engaged in sexual promiscuity, alcoholism, and abuse of drugs.
(2) The ultimate reason is personal destiny in eternity—Heaven or Hell.

Scripture teaches, “The soul that sins, it shall die” (Ezekiel 18:20, WEB). Jesus said, “…the righteous will shine forth like the sun in the kingdom of their Father...” (Matthew 13:43, WEB). And Paul wrote, “Or don't you know that the unrighteous will not inherit the Kingdom of God? Don't be deceived. Neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor male prostitutes, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor slanderers, nor extortioners, will inherit the Kingdom of God. Such were some of you, but you were washed. But you were sanctified. But you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and in the Spirit of our God” (1 Corinthians 6:9-11, WEB). In other words, there is an eternal cost or reward for choices made in this life.

The secondary reason for fighting temptation concerns loved ones and friends. An alcoholic makes life miserable for other members of the family. For a drug addict, it is worse: usually long-term theft is involved to support the expensive habit. For those addicted to pornography or sexually immoral behavior, the addict often becomes a predator, or at the very least relates to others as sex objects, not human beings. In every case, sin habits become offensive, and eventually destroy a person’s ability to fully relate to others in a respectful manner.

The best time to begin fighting temptation, of course, is early in life—the sooner the better. When temptations first come to a person, no sin has been committed, no bad or evil habits have been developed—there are no experiences to support the desire. But after the memories of the experiences are present, it becomes more difficult to fight temptations in the area of the sin habit. It is easier, for example, for an inexperienced drinker to say no to getting drunk than one who has been drinking to escape life’s problems for many years.

A sin habit that is left unchecked will eventually bring a person to a point of no return, and from there on the addict is doomed to a miserable end. Even if the person does eventually come out of the addiction, all hope of a bright and successful future will have been dashed. Generally the person is consigned to a lonely life, and suffers a dramatic and permanent decrease in his or her health and ability to function. So, regardless of where a person is with regard to a sin habit, it is imperative to fight back. Otherwise, the habit will eventually take over the soul.

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