And don’t let us yield to temptation, but rescue us from the evil one. [Matthew 6:16 (NLT)]
God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. And remember, when you are being tempted, do not say, “God is tempting me.” God is never tempted to do wrong, and he never tempts anyone else. Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. [James 1:12-14 (NLT)]
“The devil made me do it!” [Geraldine]
Flip Wilson’s character Geraldine had it all wrong; the devil didn’t make her do anything; that responsibility fell solely on her. Yet, how often do we use the same or a similar excuse? Let us never forget that even though God won’t force us be obedient, Satan can’t force us be disobedient. It’s guaranteed that temptation will come into our lives, but God is not the one who tempts us—that’s Satan’s job. God, however, will give us trials; whether we sin or not in those trials is entirely up to us.
Neither of my parents were saints but they did their best not to become sinners. When I was in my early teens, I was shocked when my mother confided that the wedding ring on her finger didn’t keep her from finding other men appealing. What it did mean was that she would never act upon the attraction. She would avoid any man or situation that could tempt her into trouble. She had a husband she loved and marriage vows she meant to keep. After she died, my father, who was a moderate drinker, stopped drinking for several months. He said he was afraid that, in his grief and pain, he would be unable to control his consumption. He didn’t want to resort to alcohol in an effort to drown his sorrow. He turned away from a situation that he knew could tempt him into trouble.
My mother knew enough to stay away from the wrong situation and my father knew enough not to let his grief turn into trouble. Unfortunately, we all know people who almost deliberately put themselves in temptation’s way: the person encountering marriage difficulty who meets a friend of the opposite sex for that harmless drink and a little sympathy, the recovering addict who spends time with friends who still use drugs, the compulsive shopper who “walks” in the mall, or the dieter who regularly stops at a bakery for coffee.
While the temptations of adultery or alcohol may not be lurking near us, we encounter countless invitations from the enemy every day: prejudice, anger, shame, bitterness, judgment, dishonesty, greed, envy, lust, pride, lack of compassion and the list goes one. I think we probably accept Satan’s invitations far more often than we realize. The best time to stop temptation is before it has a chance to entice us; we need to turn away from those tempting situations before we have an opportunity to fail. After all, it’s been said that temptation usually comes through a door that has been deliberately left open.
Heavenly Father, protect us from situations that come with temptation and strengthen us so that our trials don’t lead to transgressions. Open our eyes to the enemy’s strategies and keep us vigilant when he knocks at our door.
Temptation is the devil looking through the keyhole. Yielding is opening the door and inviting him in. [Billy Sunday]