In cartoons and movies, temptation arrives in obvious forms: a small, persuasive red devil on one’s shoulder or a sexy soundtrack that cues the viewer into the seduction that’s about to play out on screen.
But in real life, temptation is usually much less obvious. It can sneak right up on us. No danger sign flashes, no alarm belts out, “Warning! Warning! Warning!” In fact, the temptations that are most alluring are usually the ones that seem both good and justifiable to us. We’re often blind to them, unable to recognize them for what they really are, because they’re custom-made by the Enemy to align directly with our own weaknesses.
Temptation often preys upon areas of our life in which we are not satisfied. It feeds upon our tendency toward discontentment. When we feel restless or frustrated or like part of our life is lacking in some way, that dissatisfaction can serve as a wide open door for an appealing temptation to walk right in and even be welcomed by us rather than battled.
So how can we battle those subtle temptations? Along with weapons like prayer, accountability, and Scripture, we can fight them by subtle, less obvious means.
• Cultivate contentment. “Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,” wrote pastor Robert Robinson in his famous hymn. We each have a wanderlust of the heart that—when dissatisfied or bored—seeks excitement, newness, or whatever seems like it might finally satisfy. Instead, even when situations or relationships are dissatisfying in our lives, we can strengthen our ability to resist inevitable temptation by learning to be content in whatever circumstances we face.
• Trust in the dark. We’re also easy prey for temptation when life is confusing or discouraging. Some situations require more than contentment; when we’re at the end of our rope or when nothing seems to make sense, Scripture invites us to trust. And it is in those moments when we realize how difficult—and how essential—trust truly is. It demands so much of us as we chose to eschew our own understanding and thrust our whole heart and all our hopes into God’s hands.
• Lean on the Spirit. As we grow in intimacy with God, the Holy Spirit produces in us a fruit that fortifies us against the onslaught of temptation: faithfulness. We cannot fight temptation with sheer willpower. Yes, it takes our own determination, but it also takes the work of the Spirit in our lives. As we cling to God and know him more and more, his goodness is indeed “like a fetter” that binds our wandering hearts to him. It is God who transforms us from flighty, self-determined people into faithful, committed people who refuse to give up or give in.
Where are you tempted today? For many believers—especially those in unsatisfying marriages—adultery is a very real temptation. In “The New Face of Infidelity,” Corrie Cutrer unpacks the desires that drive affairs and highlights critical ways to battle the temptation to cheat. But if you aren’t currently tempted by adultery, you’re not off the hook (and neither am I)! In “Our ‘Holy’ Sins,” Carolyn Arends provides rich and convicting insight into the “acceptable sins” we often fall for and even justify within the Christian community.
Scripture reminds us that even as we face temptation, “God is faithful” (1 Corinthians 10:13). Our faithful and gracious God will always provides us with both a means of escape and endurance to resist.
When Temptation Sneaks up on You
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