Temptation, Endurance & Faith
By: Elias Bejjani*
God, Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil
Many people when exposed to hardships and various life's serious stumbles like ailments, death of a beloved one, accidents, separation, divorce, family problems etc, we hear some of them saying with a self pity tone: “God is putting me into temptation”. This superficial explanation is generally unconscious and a kind of psychological denial and an escape mechanism, or a mere ignorance of the Bible’s teachings.
In his letter of 1/12/18, St. James focuses on this common misinterpretation and explains its biblical concept. He says: “blessed is the man who endures temptation, for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life, which the Lord promised to those who love Him. Let no man say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He himself tempts no one. But each one is tempted, when he is drawn away by his own lust, and enticed. Then the lust, when it has conceived, bears sin; and the sin, when it is full grown, brings forth death. Don’t be deceived, my beloved brothers. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there can be no variation, nor turning shadow. Of his own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of first fruits of His creatures.
Definitely God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone. In the first chapter of Job, we see that God allowed Satan to tempt Job, but with restrictions. Satan is roaming around on the earth like a lion, seeking people to devour (1 Peter 5:8). Verse 9 tells us to resist him, knowing that other people are also experiencing his attacks. By these passages we can be sure that temptations Satan's work.
The Scriptures reveals that we all shall face temptations and that Jesus himself, the son of God, yet without sin, was also tempted.
The question is: from where do temptations come?
First of all, they do not come from God, although He does allow them. The Bible tells us that they come from our own minds that have both righteous and evil components with inclination towards sin and luster.
Temptation is deeply entrenched in our thoughts and hearts. It will surface and take control when we are carried away and enticed by our own lust, selfishness, greediness, materialism and detachment from God. It prevails when we allow ourselves to think certain thoughts, to go places we should not go, and to make decisions based on our lusts that lead us into the temptation.
God tempts no one and while allowing the temptation to occur, He, as a loving and caring Father, does not permit any kind of temptation to hit any person unless this person is strong enough to endure and handle it. Meanwhile and also as a Father God leaves for the tempted a way out provided this person holds on to faith and hope. Meanwhile the tempted will not be able to see the light that shows him the path out unless he genuinely repents and believes in God’s mercy and forgiveness.
In his First Letter to the Corinthians (10/13), St. Paul says, “No temptation has taken you except what is common to man. God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted above what you are able, but will with the temptation also make the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it”.
Every one of us can fall prey to temptation when he allow love to be out of his heart, soul, deeds and every day unfolding life events.
And because God is love, abandoning love simply means abandoning God Himself.
And because God is the holy light that shows us the road, leads our steps to righteousness and safeguards us from Satan, we go into complete darkness, become blind, stumble and fall in to temptation when we abandon God.
Jesus himself was tempted in the wilderness by Satan (Matthew 4/:1-11). Jesus responded to each of Satan’s temptations with the same answer: “It is written,” followed by Scripture. He used the Word of God to effectively overcome and defeat Satan’s temptations. After three failed efforts, Satan left him with disappointment.
When encountering any kind of temptation we need to resist courageously and ask God to empower us by the Holy Spirit which we can obtain through prayers, righteous deeds, reading and studying the bible and strengthening our faith and belief in God.
There is no other weapon against temptation except the “sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God” (Ephesians 6:17). Colossians 3:2 says, “Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.” When your minds are filled with the majesty and holiness of God, the love and compassion of Christ, and the brilliance of both reflected in His perfect Word, we will find that our interest in the lusts of the world diminish and disappear.
But without the Word’s influence on our minds, we are open to anything Satan wants to throw at us. Here, then, is the only means to guard our hearts and minds in order to keep the sources of temptation away from us. Remember the words of Christ to His disciples in the garden on the night of His betrayal: “Keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matthew 26:41).
No one wishes to commit sins or inflict harm on others and accordingly fall in temptations, yet all of us do slip and stumble from time to time because our flesh is not strong enough to resist.
We place ourselves in unlawful situations, fill our minds and hearts with lustful passions, let ailments of hatred and grudges blind our eyes and harden our hearts, kills our conscience, succumb to inflated egos, let go our selfishness and instincts of violence, pretentiousness and jealousy. All of these weaknesses leads us into temptation and sin.
To resist and immune ourselves against the traps of temptation and in the face of those who are wicked, we need to renew our thinking as He has created us on his image. Not only that, but he has sent his only begotten Son to be tortured, humiliated, persecuted and killed on the Cross to lead us into salvation and eliminate our original sin.
Proverbs 4:14-15 tells us, “Do not enter the path of the wicked, and do not proceed in the way of evil men. Avoid it, do not pass by; Turn away from it and pass on.” We need to avoid the path of the world that leads us into temptation because our flesh is weak.
To stand tall in the face of temptation and defeat Satan and uncover his tricks, we need to take drastic measures in our live. The anti-Satan's effective two weapons that we must carry all the time, are love and forgiveness.
Because of our weak human nature we are easily carried away by our own lusts. St Matthew (5:29) has some excellent advice for us: “If your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out and throw if from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.” This does not literally mean that we need to remove body parts to be righteous, but Jesus is teaching us that if necessary drastic measures needs to be taken.
O Lord, our Savior, you became flesh and by sacrificing yourself for us You saved us. Redeem us now from eternal damnation, protect us from all temptations, open our eyes and hearts to see your light, make us temples of your holy name, For we are Your people and inheritance. To You, O Christ, to your Father, and to your Holy Spirit, are due glory, honor and power, now and for ever. Amen
Canadian-Lebanese Human Rights activist, journalist and political commentator
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