“A silly idea is current that good people do not know what temptation means. This is an obvious lie. Only those who try to resist temptation know how strong it is... A man who gives in to temptation after five minutes simply does not know what it would have been like an hour later. That is why bad people, in one sense, know very little about badness. They have lived a sheltered life by always giving in.” C. S. Lewis
Jane is a 31 year old woman. She is a Christian; she is pretty. She has never been married. She is still a virgin. She meets a terrific guy. He is handsome, funny, and clearly is interested in her. He makes it clear that he wants to have sex with her.
To say she is tempted is an understatement. She wonders why she is saving herself. No one else saves themselves for marriage anymore. She is trying to maintain hope that she will be married someday, to a Christian guy who will treat her decently. Problem is she has not found a decent Christian guy in a long time…
She is very, very tempted to give in to her new suitor.
Sometimes, it takes immense strength to resist. For some, it is something large like keeping your virginity, or not having another drink. For others it is the M&Ms that would easily fit in your pocket. People who struggle understand the badness in the world. And temptations have an amazing way of building. You can refuse something the first time, but it stays there begging for you to give in. It builds and builds, to the point where it takes immense strength to resist. Yes, as C.S. Lewis says, people who fight temptation are immensely strong and courageous.
We are tempted by our own evil desires (James 1:13-14). Temptations are wonderfully purifying. They show us where we are bad, where we are vulnerable. Being tempted is not a sin; it is only sin when we give in to temptations. Yet, temptations are vital show the condition of our heart.
How to fight temptation? Understand two things:
(1). Temptations are simply a shadow of true goodness. We subconsciously (or consciously) think that giving in to the temptation will bring us happiness. And giving in to temptation might actually provide temporary satisfaction. Yet, giving in to temptation is a poor substation for genuine, lasting happiness. Also, giving in to temptation will always eventuate in something bad.
(2). We serve a God who is intimately familiar with every facing temptation. Hebrews says that Jesus was tempted as we are…in every way. (Hebrews 4:15). He says that He will help us with our burdens, help us fight temptation. That is not a idle promise. It is a comfort to know that Jesus knows how hard it is to fight temptation. Yet, we must also know that He will help us fight temptation, that is, He will help show us the way.
Do not ever think that there is something wrong with you, if you are tempted by something. Examine what is tempting you, and allow it to reveal what is in your heart. Count on God to give you the strength and the courage to overcome temptation.
Jane is a courageous and strong woman. She told her suitor that she was not that type of girl. Whatever your demon, take courage from her story, and take comfort from the promise of help from Christ. Be courageous. Be strong.