October 15, 2008
This morning as I was doing my devotional reading I read from William Barclay’s DSB: The Gospel of Mark. The section I read covered Mark 1:12, 13 which is Mark’s account of Jesus’ temptations in the desert. This is what got me pondering:
In this life it is impossible to escape the assault of temptation; but one thing is sure—temptations are not sent to us to make us fall; they are sent to strengthen the nerve and the sinew of our minds and hearts and souls. They are not meant for our ruin, but for our good. They are meant to be tests from which we emerge better warriors and athletes of God. (p. 21)
One thing I would disagree with Barclay about is that temptation, from Satan’s perspective, is sent to make us fall. Temptation, the siren song of the world, is meant to ruin us and to take us away from God. Temptation is dangerous.
I would agree with Barclay on the fact that from God’s perspective temptation is a means of strengthening us. The choices we make when faced with temptations either helps us become the person God created us to be, or it damages our spiritual growth. Temptation provides us with an opportunity to trust God or to trust ourselves.
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. (James 1:2-4; ESV)
Maturity is the result of how we respond to troubles and trials, which includes temptation. This is the experience side of spiritual growth. Learning and knowing Scripture is a vital part to become more like Jesus, but temptation, along with other forms of trials, provide the opportunity to put that knowledge into action. Through this process I learn that God can be trusted. Experience is a very effective teacher, especially when there practical instruction, so the student has the right context in which to interpret the experience.
When I am tempted I should see it as an opportunity. Yes, it is an opportunity to sin, but it is also an opportunity to follow Jesus. Temptation provides me with a choice, and the choice that I make reveals the condition of my faith.