Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The Benefit of Temptation

This morning as I was doing my devotional reading I read from William Barclay’s Daily Study Bible Series: The Gospel of Mark. The section I read covered Mark 1:12, 13 which is Mark’s account of Jesus’ temptations in the desert. This is what got me pondering:
“In this life it is impossible to escape the assault of temptation; but one thing is sure—temptations are not sent to us to make us fall; they are sent to strengthen the nerve and the sinew of our minds and hearts and souls. They are not meant for our ruin, but for our good. They are meant to be tests from which we emerge better warriors and athletes of God.” (p. 21)

One thing I would disagree with Barclay about is that temptation, from Satan’s perspective, is sent to make us fall. Temptation, the siren song of the world, is meant to ruin us and to take us away from God. Temptation is dangerous.

I would agree with Barclay on the fact that from God’s perspective temptation is a means of strengthening us. The choices we make when faced with temptations either helps us become the person God created us to be, or it damages our spiritual growth. Temptation provides us with an opportunity to trust God or to trust ourselves.

James writes:
2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers, when you are involved in various trials, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance. 4 But you must let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing. (James 1:2-4; ISV)

Maturity is the result of how we respond to troubles and trials, which includes temptation. This is the experience side of spiritual growth. Learning and knowing Scripture is a vital part to become more like Jesus, but temptation, along with other forms of trials, provide the opportunity to put that knowledge into action, and in the process learn that God can be trusted. Experience is a very effective teacher, especially when it follows practical instruction, so the student has the right context in which to interpret the experience.

When we are tempted we should see it as an opportunity. Yes, it is an opportunity to sin, but it is also an opportunity to follow Jesus. Temptation provides us with a choice, and the choice that we make reveals the condition of our faith. What does temptation reveal about your faith?

1 comment:

Rick D. said...

Thanks, Paul - I agree with you in that God's perspective likely sees temptation as something that can strengthen our faith and that Satan sees it as a way to erode it.

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