We are so used to running from temptation because we are so often unbelieving. We don’t believe in the power of Christ in us, so we cut, run, and hide.
Temptation is opportunity. Without it we would live out our little, comfortable lives doing little religious things to make ourselves feel good. But temptation gives us the necessary opposite circumstance; temptation gives us a real, tangible choice: Am I going to trust God in this tempted moment and reverse it? Or not?
Temptation is the battle cry of the enemy. And we must engage through faith, reliance, trust – or cut and run.
We are told to “flee fornication.” We are told to flee these things: love of money, seeking to be rich. But how to flee? Paul goes on, “But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses” (1Tim 6:11-12). We flee by fighting the faith-battle against temptation. Likewise, where we are told to “Flee fornication” we are given the method how to do so: “Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s” (1Cor 6:18-19). Again, we flee fornication by simply recognizing who (and Whose) we are.
Resisting temptation requires a reversal in our self-outlook. Every temptation gets its power by our false thinking: “I am an independent self who chooses good or evil.” We take our little human self as the origination point of good or evil. Big mistake. That’s exactly the view the devil wants us to take. We then attempt to manipulate our circumstances in order to achieve righteousness. We tell our accountability partner to call us every few hours. We put holy lock boxes on our computer or televisions. In fact, we do everything but trust in Christ in the moment to live His righteous, perfect, pure life in us, through us, as us. This Christ-avoidance, this spitting on Christ by disregarding His love and power in us, leads us on the straight path to more and more sin.
We must ask ourselves in the moment of temptation: “Does Christ live in me? Am I complete in Him? Do I have everything I need for life and godliness? Am I one spirit with the Lord? Am I weak, but He is my strength?” None of this will appear to be true in that moment when our desires or fears are stirred up. But we say it. “Christ lives in me, through me, as me. Right here, right now. Thank you, Jesus, that You are my righteousness in this moment.”
That’s where our only choice originates. Are we going to affirm in faith that Christ within us is our righteousness in every temptation? And then, having affirmed the truth, step out on it and act as though we really trust that it is true?
This battle is not just for our growth; it is a fight for the eternal well-being of every person in our lives. The world is watching and waiting for those of us who will stand in who we really are in Christ, for those who really rely on God’s saving power, for those who don’t merely give lip service to faith.
Temptation is our opportunity.