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Temptation and victory
- Jacob Ninan
All of us human beings are born into this world with a sinful nature (Ps.51:5). Even after we are born again by faith in Jesus, we are tempted by the lusts (desires going outside the will of God) in our flesh (Jas.1:14). Temptations draw us towards enjoyment and pleasure which God has declared as being hurtful for us, and if we give in to them they result in works of the flesh as opposed to the fruit of the Spirit (Ga.5:19-23), and ultimately in separating us from fellowship with God (spiritual death - Jas.1:15).
We know that temptation itself is not sinful (Jesus was also tempted though He did not sin - He.4:15). But we sin when we yield to the suggestion that comes in through the temptation. We yield by accepting the suggestion in our mind, and taking action accordingly. (Sinful action can even be to continue thinking and using our imagination about something or someone in a way that is displeasing to God.) Victory is to reject the suggestion and to behave in a godly way. Victory is not a state we attain to, from where we cannot fall, but overcoming temptation by temptation. Each time we give in the temptation becomes stronger, and each time we overcome it becomes weaker.
We can be tempted directly by the desires in our flesh, and they can be strong if we have given in to them in the past. We can also be tempted by the things we see in the world around us and the suggestions of people, which all stir up the lusts in our flesh. Finally Satan and his demons can tempt us by placing suggestions in our mind (our thoughts are all not our own) which appeal to us because of our fleshly lusts, and diverting our mind away from God's word.
Temptations stir up the lusts in our flesh and we detect these desires in the form of feelings, thoughts or bodily sensations. All these forms of input prompt us to take some action. These actions can be for our protection or progress, or in the case of temptations to satisfy our desires. What our physical senses tell us may be to seek for pleasure. We need to keep these desires in control so as to stay within godly limits (1Co.9:27). It is not wise to depend on our feelings for making decisions, but perhaps that may be our usual tendency. We need to train ourselves to recognise when our feelings are leading us in wrong directions and to correct ourselves by comparing with what God's word tells us to do. Our thoughts can themselves mislead us if we don't have enough information, we are in a hurry, or if the source of these thoughts is satanic or merely human (Mt.16:23). That is why we need to make all thoughts to fall in line with what God tells us through His word and the Holy Spirit (2Cor.10:5).
After we process all the inputs in our thoughts, it is by our will that we decide to act. Victory or sin is decided there. If we have been habitually giving in to temptations, our will would have become very weak, and one reason for delay in victory may be that it takes time to strengthen it.