Resources to face temptation
A young man shared that his father used to drink alcohol before him and other family members in the home. However, his father sincerely advised him not to drink. This was a powerful source of temptation for the young man. He sees his father enjoy his drink but alas, forbidden to drink. He thought it was unfair for his father to stop him from experiencing the joy he enjoys. He was sure that his father cannot prohibit him from drinking as he regularly drinks. The temptation was very near, readily accessible and there was a quest to experiment. “How can I overcome this temptation?” I said, “It is not the sources of the temptation, it’s all about the resources to face the temptation.” Yes, many young people who are closer physically, emotionally to temptation consider themselves as vulnerable and weak. Many time they are not overcomers but overwhelmed by temptation and drown into sin.
Mind: imagination and fantasy
Many battles with temptation happen in the mind. Satan could plant thoughts of temptation. What a person sees could stimulate or trigger the imagination, which could lead to sin. Eve saw the forbidden fruit and Satan fueled her imagination, to fantasize of becoming ‘like gods’. A neutral object like the fruit could trigger the imagination in the wrong direction. Eve went along the path of her imagination and decided to eat the fruit and thus disobeyed the commandment of God. Any object like the fruit in this case that is not inherently evil could lead in the evil path. A boy looking at a beautiful girl or a girl observing a lovely jewel is not inherently sinful. However, what the mind does after the looking through the window of eyes is important. The mind can use that picture in mind to lead a person to sin in thoughts and that in turn lead to sin by body or behavior.
Voices from popular culture
There are also loud voices from media and popular culture. It is very difficult to shut off from such voices and noises. These voices like that of peer pressure are seductive. Media that should be educational becomes another misleading voice. The popular culture promotes what is fad in the name of fashion or trend, which violates all moral values. These voices are also intimidating. In not listening to such voices a person would be excluded and rejected or ostracized. A false notion is created and a person’s identity is defined by that notion. Being a man means to smoke – one such notion. To be part of the manly club, a person is induced to smoke. A qualification to be part of that club means to compromise biblical values.
Today, there is abundance of temptation. The accessibility to sin is nearer than imagined. A mouse click is enough that could open the floodgates of pornography and violence. The availability of choices is also plenty. They are available in several formats and a person (customer) could choose according to his/her need, budget and time frame. And these are presented to gullible youngsters as ‘adult games’. The affordability in monetary terms is also conducive. A guarantee of not being caught or exposed, adds incentive to involvement in sinful ventures. The digital revolution has made temptation 24/7 and in fingertips.
There are at least three resources available to face temptation. These resources are more than enough to face any kind of temptation. In fact, the resources are far superior to the strength of any temptation.
- Knowledge of God: God is omniscient and omnipresent. “For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.” (II Chronicles 16:9) God is watching over us gives us a confidence that he will give us triumph over temptation. That also teaches us that, heaven’s CCTVs records all our activities. And these CCTVs also have the X-ray capacity to record even our thoughts, intentions and motivations. Even if our parents, friends from fellowships or churches, relatives, siblings or others do not watch us, God is observing us. A person cannot smoke in the dark corner of a restaurant unnoticed by God. When a person entertains adulterous thoughts in his mind, God knows that. And every individual is accountable to God.
- Word of God: God’s word gives us light in our path of life. “Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.” (Psalm 119:105) The unchanging Word of God is our anchor in the ever-changing world, culture and society. That provides stable anchor in the turbulent seas. The hidden treasure of Word of God, in the hearts provides capacity to withstand temptation. Psalmist states: “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” (Psalm 119:11) The Word of God provides us the basis or foundational values for our lives. The Bible becomes the benchmark of reference not the advice of friends or counsel of buddies or propaganda of media or practice of culture.
- Holy Spirit: The Spirit of God indwells in the hearts of disciples of Lord Jesus Christ. The Spirit of God is a living person and not just a power. He whispers gently in our hearts and minds. Lord Jesus Christ said: “But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” (John 14:26) He also strengthens our resolve and empowers us to face the torrents of temptations.
A real life story
One time I was dealing with cash in a post office counter. The person thought I gave Rs. 100 and gave me back a change of Rs. 50. In fact, I had given only Rs. 50 the amount I was supposed to pay. That day, my pocket was also empty. Satan was whispering, “See God knows your need and gives you this amount, pocket it.” Word of God was reminded by Holy Spirit, “Do not steal.” I also realized that God’s eyes were watching me. In a moment I took a right decision. I told the postal officer that I gave only Rs. 50 and he is giving the amount wrongly. He thanked me profusely. The knowledge about God that he is watching me; the reminder of the Word of God by the Holy Spirit helped me to face the temptation and did not steal.
The resources to face temptation are more vital and powerful than any temptation we face in life. “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted. beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” ( I Cor 10:13)