“Well now way back in the Bible, temptations always come along. There’s always somebody tempting, somebody into doing something they know is wrong. Well they tempt you, man, with silver, and they tempt you, sir, with gold. And they tempt you with the pleasures, that the flesh does surely hold. They say Eve tempted Adam with an apple, but man I ain’t going for that. I’m goin’ for the …”
Perhaps you recognize those lyrics. They make up the middle verse of the song Pink Cadillac by Bruce Springstein.
Or maybe you recognize those lyrics because that’s the song you sing every day. Every day you’re goin’ for the ________ (you fill in the blank).
This is part of being human, a fallen being, isn’t it? No responsible person gets a pass. We all are tempted in many ways and at many times. Sometimes blatantly; sometimes with subtlety. But, as Christians we know, no matter in what form it comes to us, we’re called to:
… be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. (Eph. 6.10)
We know what our Lord expects of us regarding temptation. His special messenger to us, James, puts it concisely and with some serious motivation for us:
Blessed is anyone who endures temptation. Such a one has stood the test and will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him. (James 1.12)
The question now, of course, is how to resist temptation. How to be strong in the Lord by turning away from darkness and toward light, toward him.
James doesn’t leave us wondering. He laid out a captured copy of our Enemy’s battle plans against us and spread it out on the table for us to see. Here they are … with his word of warning to us at the end:
… one is tempted by one’s own desire, being lured and enticed by it; then, when that desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and that sin, when it is fully grown, gives birth to death. Do not be deceived, my beloved. (James 1.14-16)
We need to take a good, hard look at what’s being said here. If we’ll do so, we’ll find a great deal of help for us to be “strong in the Lord” in our resistance of the darkness that would have its way with us.
Do not be deceived. Keep a good look out. And as you do so …
Look within. That is, take note of what you desire. Just because you desire something doesn’t mean it’s a good thing. What is it you desire to think, say. or do? Why do you desire this? Desire isn’t temptation, and neither desire or being tempted is sin, but we know sin starts with both. Desire coupled with temptation just might not be a green light to go for it, but a flashing warning sign that says: “Bridge Out! Dead End.” So look within and then pray honestly to our Father regarding your desires.
ook ahead. Have you got so caught up with seeing only what’s right in front of your hood ornament that you can’t see down the road? Think seriously about where your desire could lead you. Could it lead you to a place you never would have dreamed of going and would never have wanted to visit? Choices and decisions made in the moment can have huge consequences, consequences that could domino and pile up on you. So, determine to take the long view and allow that to help guide you in the here and now.
And by all means, look beside you, for beside you is Jesus Christ.
… I myself will be with you every day until the end of this present age. (Matt. 28.20)
Remember he’s right here with you. He knows your desires. He know what is tempting you. He knows the suffering temptation can cause within you. And he’s here to help you to be strong.
Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted. (Heb. 2.18)
Go now. Go “be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.”