What does the Bible say about Temptation?

Ginger nuts! I can resist most other biscuits, but put a ginger nut in front of me, especially when I have a cup of tea in my hand, and I will normally have to give in and have one…or two…or… I love ginger nuts so much that when I was searching for the definition of this weeks word I searched for ginger nuts rather than TEMPTATION!!!!

This week we continue to look at what the Bible says about different things that affect us and we are considering what the Bible says about temptation. The definition of temptation is

 The wish to do or have something that you know you should not do or have

We have all experienced temptation, and the things that tempt us will be different. When I was looking at videos for form time worship the majority of videos related to temptation were related to food. However, that isn’t going to be the case with all people. It might be that your temptation is to procrastinate when you have a job to do! Another one of mine, depending on the day I’ve had, will be to sit down on the sofa and watch TV rather than going out for a run.

None of these things are bad in and of themselves, but they could be if they became habit or the norm. For example, the issue is not having a ginger nut with my cup of tea, the issue is that I could easily eat the entire packet with my cup of tea, and an entire packet of biscuits is not going to do you any good whether you are on a diet or not. Procrastination can sometimes be helpful as thinking time, but if we always procrastinate then nothing will ever get done. There’s always a time for sitting on the sofa and watching TV, but if you do that every time you feel like it, or instead of doing something else then it’s not going to be beneficial. I know that running makes me feel better, but that’s hard work!

Temptations are often referred to as guilty pleasures. They are things that we like, that make us feel good momentarily but because we know that they are something we shouldn’t be doing they also make us feel guilty.

It is not bad to be tempted, it is human. The issue, is how do we deal with the temptations when they come. I’ve already used the word resist when I said that a ginger nut is the one biscuit I can’t resist. Resist is a word we often use in relation to temptation and the definition of resist is to fight against something or someone that is attacking you. One way in which the word resist is used is “antibodies help us to resist infection”. I liked this idea because a temptation can be like an infection, it may start off with something small, one ginger nut, one night on the sofa but can easily turn into a whole packet of ginger nuts and never doing exercise again.

How do we resist the temptation? I think it’s best to look at the example of Jesus. In fact our thought for the week comes from Rick Warren who says

Every time you defeat a temptation you become more like Jesus

I like the fact that Rick Warren uses the term defeating temptation. If we go back to the idea of the body resisting infection, eventually the resisting infection will result in defeating it and being healthy. I had a virus earlier in the year, it wiped me out completely, even when I was feeling better I was taken over by exhaustion every now and again but now my body has defeated it!

It makes me feel better that Jesus was tempted as well… it makes me realise that everyone really does get tempted. I imagine he was tempted a lot, after all he was fully human, but the temptations that we know of are right after his baptism when he goes in to the wilderness, where he fasts and prepares himself for his ministry. He is tempted with 3 things, turning stones to food, jumping from a high place knowing God would save him, and bowing down to Satan in order to have power. All of these things would have made his life much easier, especially as he knew what the next 3 years would entail and how it would end. However easy and momentarily pleasurable it would have been Jesus resisted and defeated the temptation. How? He reminded himself why he shouldn’t give in. He quoted scripture “man shall not live by bread alone” “do not put God to the test” “you shall worship only God”.

A temptation is wanting to do or have something you know you shouldn’t do or have. You KNOW you shouldn’t therefore the best way to defeat temptation is to remind yourself why you shouldn’t. But also to think about the things that you should be doing, and how those will make you feel. The Bible verse given with this topic was from Philippians 4:8 which says

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

Focus on the good things in life, and good actions. These things will become our antibodies fighting against the infection of temptation, and helping us to defeat it one ginger nut, or one temptation at a time.

Challenge: think about the things that you are tempted by, come up with a sentence that you can repeat to yourself next time you are tempted.

Prayer: Father God we thank you that you came to earth and showed us that it is ok to be tempted, but also demonstrated how we can defeat temptation. Help us to focus on the true, noble, right, pure, lovely and admirable things, so that we can resist temptations when they come. Amen

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