Where Does Temptation Come From?
This question may seem like an easy answer, but that’s the problem with temptation and our perception of it. We think it’s easy to figure out. However, there are layers that don’t get examined, but need to if we are to truly become overcomers. The easy answer to the origins of temptation is Satan or evil. We alluded to it last week, but God does not tempt us (James 1:13). The following verse gives a great picture of where temptation does come from:
But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. (James 1:14)
Lust is a big originator of temptation. When we are talking about sin and temptation, it is one of the big contributors. The word lust is defined as a craving, longing or desire for something, usually that which is forbidden. In the above scripture, lust is described as being our own possession, but how do we end up possessing lust? All men are born in sin (Psalm 51:5). However, even though we are born in sin, our lusts, or worldly desires, are things that we appropriate over time. We come to possess them through the experiences of life, and it is not always our fault how we came into possession of them.
The neglected child turns to friends for advice instead of her parents. She essentially becomes raised by her peers. Her friends are drug users and this leads to her having a desire for drugs and she is tempted by those who show her affection. As a result, she starts a lifestyle of drug use that tears her world apart over time. Her honest desire was to be accepted and acknowledged. The neglect of her family and the perverse nature of her peers turned an innocent desire into a lustful craving.
Lust isn’t the only origin of temptation. Hard times offers moments of temptation as well. These can lead to lust, but they can also lead to other non-sinful actions that lead to our destruction. The overwhelmed worker is laid off from his job. The stress of mounting bills and unfed children doesn’t lead him to the barroom. It leads him into depression. He eventually finds a job again and even gets out of the financial rut. However, anytime a hard situation even looms on the horizon, the scar of his difficult season causes him to withdraw into himself. He is succumbing to the temptation to be depressed and give into weariness rather than to turn to God and rely on Him for his provision.
While these two must take ownership of their lives and relationships with God at some point, we see that the origins of their lust and self-destruction were not of their own making. Several factors went into forming these feelings that they had no control over. However, we cannot allow that which we have no control over to control us for our whole lives. We can’t allow neglectful parents/spouses, difficult situations at work/school, overwhelming circumstances in life, etc. to completely shape our world. If we do, we’ll form lustful desires that will lead to temptation and that leads to a lot of other destruction (James 1:15).
The Destination Of Temptation
We’ve already painted temptation as a terrorist attack and added to Satan’s many titles as chief terrorist of the spiritual realm. Where does this very adept enemy choose to attack us? While we are all unique individuals and the Devil takes us on as such, he operates in a similar fashion by attacking us each in a familiar place: our place of weakness.
A terrorist group does not try to storm the most secure places in the nations, cities, and organizations they target. They scout and study their targets for long periods of time often, looking for the chink in the armor. They prod and poke and even do a few preemptive operations to get a further understanding of their target. Finally, when they discover the weak point of their target, they send the most effective attack possible to cause chaos and destruction so as to try and bring that target down
The Devil is no different than the terrorist. He examines your life, sometimes at a distance and sometimes up close under the cloak of a friendship, opportunity, etc. He prods into every area of your life and looks for ways to enter in and cause havoc. If there is a place for him to squeeze in to your life, he will make his way in or make way for one of his minions. The result will be chaos, sin and destruction leading to spiritual and even physical death. It his desire to destroy us and he’ll look for every weak point imaginable.
Shoring up the Weak Points
Job teaches us how to shore up those weak points. He was a man above reproach. He served God daily and was blessed accordingly. The Devil looked for weak points in every area of his life and tried to attack him in each perceived weak point. However, the devil’s understanding of Job was clouded by Job’s strong relationship with God. The Devil could not break Job because Job had no weak points. He shored up even the most concerning points with daily sacrifice to God (Job 1:5). Some say Job did this because he lacked faith in his family and/or God. He did this out of fear. I would say that Job operated with a spiritual rationale that we all need to have. He was concerned for a segment of His life. Rather than worry or try to fix it on his own, he gave it to God doing his part with the prayer and sacrifice. We must do the same.
By continually looking at our lives through the filter of God and our service to Him, we’ll notice areas that need a little more attention. The cracks in our foundation become clearer when we are praying, reading God’s Word and fasting on a regular basis. When we see them, we can focus our attention on them and give them over to God to shore up as well.
However, just like with Job, it takes more than reactive measures. Job was proactive in his approach to God. There was no indication his sons and daughters were starting to waver in their faith. Job didn’t care. He was going to lay up prayers and sacrifices for them to ward off the cracks that lead to chaos. We must do the same thing in our own lives and the lives of those we love. We must start laying up prayers and fasting for our temporal and spiritual lives. We must share the Word with those we love and speak the Word into areas of our lives as a foundation and support for them. Doing this won’t prevent the storms of life from coming and they won’t keep the Devil from attacking us (go read the rest of Job for that proof). However, doing these actions will lead us through any storm we face and help us to overcome and be lead out of any temptation we face along the way.
Thought To Ask Yourself
How often do I look for weak points in my life and work to shore them up through prayer, fasting, and reading God’s Word? Go to our Facebook and leave your response in the comments for this post.
Chris Farris is the author of The Way, a manual detailing how to implement the Beatitudes into your life. He review events and other media and offers other insights into writing and working for the Kingdom of God.