Understanding Trouble – Part 1
“…each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed.” (James 1:14 NIV)
As long as we live, we’re going to face both trials and temptations. The good news is that Jesus told us that he will never leave us nor forsake us. He will be with us in our trials and will provide a way of escape when we are tempted. James, the half-brother of our Lord, opens his letter by talking about both trials and temptation, and he uses the same word for each in the original Greek language in which the text is written. The Greek word is “peirasmós”— depending on the context, it can mean either testing allowed by God to strengthen us and cause us to stand and endure, or it can have the evil connotation of the temptation that is sent by the devil to bring us down, to shame us, and to discourage us.
The fact is, we all know what temptation is. We’ve all felt the heat to say things, do things, or dwell on things we know aren’t God’s will. Satan comes to seduce us, and he has an ally in the selfish desires we have in our sinful nature: desires for fame, material things, money, impurity. Though temptation is something we will all have to deal with until the end of our lives here on earth, we can look forward to the day when we see Jesus face to face, and there will be no more temptation.
There is a terrible misunderstanding about temptation, however. The Bible tells us that Jesus was tempted in every single way that you and I are tempted, yet he did not sin. That tells us something that is very clear and logical—and it’s the best thing we can say about temptation, by the way—but we often miss it: temptation is not sin! A thought enters our mind and the temptation is presented. Unless our will gives consent; unless we open up and say, “Come in,” to unclean thoughts or burning anger and resentment or hatred; unless we consent to act and have our bodies carry out what was suggested by the thought, however, it is not sin.
To be continued…