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Sin in disguise
- Jacob Ninan
The reason temptations deceive us is simple. They do not come announcing themselves as temptations, which would have put us on the alert, but as with great and captivating offers that should not be ignored. It is because what they offer is attractive to us that we even consider taking them up. There are already desires (lusts) in our flesh (our sinful nature), which we have inherited from our ancestors Adam and Eve after they sinned, which have an inclination to give in to these offers of temptation. When these desires are stirred up by the temptation that comes upon us, that is when we are 'really' tempted (Jas.1:14,15). Temptations are always out there, but it is only when our sinful desires are fired up that we feel the temptation.
We can say, in general, that temptations offer us one or two things--pleasure or an undue advantage. That was how Eve was tempted in Eden. She imagined the pleasure she would receive from eating that attractive and delicious looking fruit. She thought that by eating it she could become wise like God. Satan also threw in an offer of impunity telling her that she would be ok even after eating the forbidden fruit (Ge.3:1-6). If we look at our own experiences can we not identify these elements in them too?
We know that Eve was deceived. There are certainly serious consequences to sin (Ga.6:7,8), now and in eternity. There is pleasure if we yield to sin, and there can be advantages on earth. But the pleasure is transient and the consequences last for a long time. The so-called advantages we imagine will always bite back. And there is no impunity for children of God 'under grace' either (Ro.8:13).
We who were slaves to sin were purchased with the ransom of the blood of Jesus. Now God wants us to overcome temptations and not live as before. He knows that even after becoming children of God we carry with us the flesh with its sinful desires. He wants us to keep the flesh crucified (Ga.5:24), not yield to temptation (Ro.6:13), and to put the deeds of our body to death by the Holy Spirit (Ro.8:13). So He tells us not to allow ourselves to be deceived by the appearances temptations put up (He.3:12,13).
We need to become wise or acquire wisdom concerning salvation (2Ti.3:15). If we can understand what attracts us to the offer from the particular temptations we face in our life and look at the whole sequence from the point of view of the word of God, we can learn how to prepare ourselves and overcome such temptations in future and also to cry out to the Lord for more specific help. It would be most foolish of us to take cover under 'grace' or to excuse our failures as our 'weaknesses'.
God is very realistic. He knows we might fall and He has provided for our cleansing if we fall (1Jn.2:1,2;1:9). But certainly He does not want us to fall but to become overcomers.
Let not the failures in our past keep us down in hopelessness or despair, but teach us how to overcome temptations in the future.