Watch out for temptation in life

Published 7:27 pm Tuesday, April 9, 2019

The late Arnold H. Glascow, American businessman and humorist, once stated, “Watch out for temptation — the more you see of it, the better it looks.”

  Whether temptation means a “testing,” such as Abraham’s offering of his son Isaac or Jesus struggling in the wilderness, or whether temptation means “an inducement to evil” a la Eve and the Serpent, it is a continuous battle. And the nearer we seek to draw to God, the more intense the struggle becomes. While we may want to be God’s servants, we also have some deep human needs for approval, affection, recognition, comfort, satisfaction and security.

  Writing in his classic “The Imitation of Christ,” Thomas A. Kempis says, “Every one therefore ought to be full of care about his [her] own temptation, and to watch in prayer, lest the devil find advantage.”

Today I want to address the subject of temptation. Though God does not keep us from temptation, God does guarantee us a way out of the temptation. “God,” writes Paul, “will with the temptation also make a way of escape that you may be able to bear it” (l Corinthians 13:10). The idea is of an army apparently surrounded and then suddenly seeing an escape into safety. No person need fall to any temptation, for with the temptation there is a way out. And this is the way of conquest in the power of God’s Grace.

So how does God enable us to conquer our temptations?

First, courage! Sometimes God gives us courage to overcome our temptations.

A college student once shared that he had a date on a given evening that could end in disaster.

He knew that the girl he was going out with was very free with her affections. And he also knew that given the right circumstances he could well end up with an unwanted pregnancy or marriage. The relationship had no real meaning.

  The boy prayed the Lord’s Prayer, “Lead is not into temptation but deliver us from evil,” and the thought came to him to call a friend and double date. Problem solved! The couples had a good evening and avoided what could have been a tragedy.

  Second, common sense! Common sense often tells us to turn our back on temptation and run in the other direction. Temptation is a battle, and it’s always won on the ground previously chosen.

  As someone expressed it, “It’s alright for the birds to fly over head, but it’s not alright for them to nest in our hair.”

  Third, consideration! Would I be willing to permit those I love most to engage in this activity? We can be sure that anything that would not be good for those we love would not be good for us.

  Fourth, communication (prayer)! After all, this was the method of  Jesus! He overcame his own temptations through scripture and prayer. He prayed to his father in the hour of deepest agony, “Nevertheless, not my will but your will be done” (Matthew 26:42).

  Finally, commitment! God enables us to conquer our temptations ultimately through our commitment to him.

  Martin Luther certainly understood this, and he testified to it in his triumphant hymn, “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God.” Ponder these words:

“The Prince of Darkness grim

We tremble not for him,

His rage we can endure,

For lo, His doom is sure.

One little word shall fell him.”

And for believers, that word is Jesus!