What Good is Temptation?

I am looking forward to the future, are you? I look forward to that day when all temptation will be ended forever. What a joy it will be to begin every day of life knowing that there will be no opportunities to sin, no predicaments of suffering, and no inner impulses to make wrong choices – none whatsoever. That will be incredibly wonderful in every way. I am looking forward to that day very much.

But things are not this way quite yet. In fact, temptations don’t just exist, they surround you every day. Why? Why does God allow this? Why does He permit them to occur? Why doesn’t He eradicate them now and be done with it already?

I am convinced that God permits temptation to occur because it reveals our desperate need for Him in a way that nothing else can do (1 Cor. 10:12; Prov. 22:3; Jn. 15:5). Without temptation, we would not sense the great need that we have to rely on Him for everything. Temptation properly understood awakens in our hearts that we need God far more than we realize or care to admit. Would you agree? When you experience temptation, you become incredibly aware of your inadequacy and your weakness. This is not a bad thing because it provides a setting for the power of God to be displayed, when the need is most evident.

I am convinced that God permits temptation to occur because it reveals our desperate need for Him.

Temptation is a powerful thing. It confronts you with difficult choices – choices to give way to wrong desires, false ideas, and deceptive tricks. It opens the door to failure, increases the potential for pain, and even threatens to destroy you. Temptation appeals to your fallen human nature, the distorted desires of your body and mind. These distorted desires can be strong and very misleading. And though God does not cause or endorse any temptation that you experience, He sovereignly permits them because they reveal our need for Him.

Yes, temptation is a powerful thing. But there is something, or someone, infinitely more powerful than any temptation you will ever encounter. God alone is more powerful than the greatest temptation. Think about it. If temptation never occurred, the power of God to overcome it would never be displayed. Temptation provides God with an opportunity to display His omnipotent, overcoming power in a way that nothing else provides. But there’s more! Temptation provides you personally with an opportunity to share in the glory of victory with God in the temptations that He permits in your life.

God alone is more powerful than the greatest temptation.

And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil (Lk. 11:4).

When you encounter temptation, consider these important truths.

  1. The Devil behind the temptation has already been defeated by Christ at the cross (Col. 2:15).
  2. The powerful sin nature within you, though it still functions, has no authority over you. It cannot force you to capitulate to temptation. You do not have to sin when you are tempted (Rom. 6:5-7).
  3. Whatever temptation you face, it will never be so powerful that you cannot overcome it with God’s help (1 Cor. 10:13; Heb. 2:18).

Here’s an illustration that may help to summarize the good that can come out of temptation. Imagine that your favorite football team invites their arch nemesis to play them in your home stadium. This happens all the time. The Chicago Cubs invite the St. Louis Cardinals to play at Wrigley Field. The New York Jets invite the New England Patriots to play at Met Life Stadium. And the Los Angeles Lakers invite the Boston Celtics to play at the Staple Center. The Cubs do not endorse the Cardinals, the Jets do not endorse the Patriots, and the Lakers do not endorse the Celtics in any way by inviting them and permitting them to play them in front of their home crowd. But by permitting their opponent to play them at home, they are staging an opportunity to show their home fans that they are the better team, without question. The goal in this kind of situation is to defeat the opponent at home for all to see.

God does not create or endorse temptation (Jam. 1:13), but He does permit it to occur (Job 1:6-2:11; Lk. 22:31-32). He does this so that you and I can partner with Him in the victory that He provides to overcome temptation and defeat the great archenemy, Satan – on a regular basis (Rom. 16:20). Will you honestly accept your desperate need for God and rely on Him for victory over the temptations that He allows to occur in your life (2 Cor. 12:7-10)?

Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him (Jam. 1:12).

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You may listen to the audio of a more extensive look at this topic here.

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