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Pointers along the way #90

Nurturing temptations
- Jacob Ninan

Do you think that when David fell into adultery it happened all of a sudden, on the spur of the moment? What if he had already determined, like Job, not to gaze upon a woman (Job.31:1)? Do you think David would have even thought of killing anyone under normal circumstances? But he did, when he was caught in a situation where his adultery was likely to be found out. What we don't often realise is that by being careless at one stage we are actually setting up ourselves for a stronger temptation.

Jesus said that if we were unfaithful in little things, we would also be unfaithful in big things (Lk.16:10). But when it comes to little things, we may fool ourselves by thinking that little things don't matter and that when it comes to bigger things we would certainly be faithful.

Just think of how many temptations develop. 1. We see or hear something that provokes us. 2. We think about it and let our imagination run. 3. Our conscience and will power become weakened by these thoughts that we have permitted to dwell in our mind. 4. We console ourselves thinking that we are not 'doing' anything wrong, and we continue to be open to the things that provoke us, enjoying our imaginations. 5. The pricks of our conscience become less and less. 6. Then one day we are provoked a little too much, and we end up 'doing' something wrong. 7. We justify ourselves saying that it was only a small slip and that it won't happen again. 8. Now the level of our tolerance of sin has gone up and when a sudden provocation comes up we give in. 9. This act of ours creates circumstances, like it did for David, which open up new temptations which we had never imagined in the first place we would ever get into.

How and at what level can we have victory? If we are hoping and aiming for a victory at the level of not 'doing' something wrong, while we indulge our thoughts, we can be caught off guard. It may be only a matter of time before a powerful temptation comes and knocks us down. It is in our thoughts that we have to learn to be faithful. It is there that we have our value system based on God's standards based on which we have decided that certain types of behaviour, including wrong thought patterns, are taboo for us.

Our battle is to avoid entertaining thoughts that are contrary to God's values and instead to think of things that are pleasing to Him (Php.4:8). Once we have our values right and we don't allow wrong thoughts to occupy our mind, we are better prepared to face temptations to do wrong than if we had been careless in our mind.