Even though we are offered freedom from the power of sin, we should guard ourselves against slipping into satisfaction with a life so conformed to the world, so like it in almost every respect, that a casual observer would discern no difference.
- Are we making the choices Christ would have us make in our private lives?
- Do we treat our family members with love and patience even when no one else is watching?
- Do we behave as honorably to our peers as to our pastors and as kindly at the mall as at a prayer meeting?
- How seriously do we take our sin?
When we sense God speaking to us about our sins, we benefit from paying attention to his gentle leading. We follow him, not because we fear his retribution, but because we trust his guidance. He may urge us toward changes that look trivial, unworthy of our efforts or concern. Some small behavior that seems of no consequence to us may be of the utmost importance to him. Temptation can take many forms.
While those backpacks of sin may continue to tempt us, we need to keep passing them by. They won’t disappear, and their allure may be strong at times, but we never have to snatch one up and strap it on. Furthermore, wanting to grab one is not a sin.
Jesus was tempted, yet led a sinless life. James chapter 1 tells us to “count it all joy” when we face temptation, and that the man who endures temptation is blessed. Surely, then, temptation cannot be sin. The Enemy wants us to think it is. Deception is the name of his game. “When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44). If Satan can convince us that temptation is sin, he has a good chance of discouraging us to the point of saying, “’Might as well go ahead.” We don’t have to buy that lie.
If the devil prefaced each temptation with the words, “I am the devil, your relentless enemy; I have come to make you sin!” he would lose out almost every time. Instead, he comes at us with subtle propositions of evil, then turns around and says, “Oh, how horrid you are to think such things! Surely, if you were following the Lord, it would be impossible for you to have these thoughts.” Another lie.
Temptations are not sin! We ought not to be so weakened by misplaced shame that we give in to them. We can turn to the Lord right away and commit the battle to him, keeping our focus on Jesus and asking him to provide the power to resist. The only attention the tempter deserves is a hearty rebuke of, “I have found you out now. It is you who are suggesting these dreadful thoughts to me, and I’ll have nothing to do with them. The Lord is my helper.”
Inspired by the writings of Hannah Whitall Smith