I love temptation. Before you gasp, get concerned, and think ill, please understand – I hate sin. Absolutely, utterly, unconditionally hate sin. I hate all its forms, I hate when I find it hiding in some recess of my soul. I detest the wretched thing. But I realized I love temptation.
Well, perhaps love is too strong a word. Enjoy doesn’t sound good either for it gives the notion that I go charging into it with great delight. In truth, I abhor temptation as well and avoid it at all costs. But I have discovered that when temptation presses in to snare, it forces me to cling all the more upon Jesus.
While growing up I use to ask God to remove all temptation from my life. It was only the last few years that I realized it will never happen. Jesus was tempted. For me to desire a place where temptation doesn’t present itself is to elevate myself above Jesus.
Yet while temptation may come knocking, it doesn’t mean I have to answer the door. I have heard countless young men confess that they cannot control the circumstances around them and thus have no ability to have freedom over temptation. Hog wash! Joseph was pressed in with alluring temptation yet found escape (Genesis 39.6-12). Paul declares that “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.”
What I find fascinating about temptation is that it often appears without notice or warning and in some of the most unlikely places. While I can be proactive about not being in certain “tempting” situations, circumstances, and locations, I cannot remove all temptation from my life. The truth is, temptation, and the sin that flaunts it, will attempt to distract and gain access into my life. But I DON’T have to heed its voice nor give it an ounce of attention. What if rather than responding to the temptation by trying to stand against it, I allowed temptation to press me deeper into Jesus.
Let me explain. The mob boss named Sin and his goon Temptation walk up to the door of my life and start banging away. Normally, I jump up from the sofa delighted to have a visitor come by. But as I open the door I find I am weak and powerless to defend myself as the mob boss and his cronies burst through, beat me, and leave me bound in chains with a concussion on the floor. But as a Christian, it is not I, but Christ, who is the Master of the home (my life). Now when the mob and company come a’knockin, I remain in the backroom while allowing Jesus to answer the door and handle whomever is there. I don’t give it attention or allow my focus to be altered.
My good friend and mentor, Stephen Manley, once said that the only way to have victory over temptation is to remain completely focused on Jesus. When you give focus or attention to temptation, you will eventually fall into sin. Our focus must remain on Jesus!
So what do we do when temptations come knocking? Cling all the tighter to Jesus! Ask Him to answer the door and to deal with the temptation. If He indeed is the King of your life, then ask Him to take the temptation to the dungeon and slit its throat – not giving it a voice.
Is it possible to be impervious to sin and temptation? Yes! But you must rest fully upon Jesus and allow Him to be your strength and source of life. Paul found great delight in trials and areas of weakness, for in them the strength and power of Christ was more evident. He did not go and face temptation or trials in his own power but rather put His whole weight upon Jesus – trusting that the King would uphold, care, protect, and guard his life. It was Jesus that was the strength, resource, and demonstration within Paul’s life. Paul used every pressing that came against him as an opportunity to be pushed deeper into Jesus.
What a mockery to the darkness! To use its pressing to draw deeper into Jesus. I hate sin and even temptation, but I do love the fact that temptation propels me to trust all the more, cling all the harder, and rely upon the full resource, strength, and ability of Jesus. May we be pushed into greater intimacy and oneness with the King of kings and Lord of lords!
Are you giving into temptation or allowing it to press you all the deeper into Jesus?