Saturday, September 10, 2005

Temptation. (part one)

Temptation can be amazingly subtle and persistent. One might have a sore trial of temptation, escaping 'by the skin of his teeth' whole through prayer, confession, instruction, and the strengthening grace of God. One might even look upon such an episode as the 'grand struggle' of one's life-- and, having come through whole, never realise that sruggles of this kind do not end merely through having overcome them. I have found that temptations come like waves on the shore: you experience mild ones that are somewhat easy to manage, then along comes a killer tsunami that near about wipes you out. Would it not be foolishness to sigh a breath of relief and say, "Well, thank goodness that's over with!"? If you are not constantly on the alert, you will be taken away by another one.

Here are some things that I have learned about temptation. Don't suppose for a minute that this is all there is to learn, or that having observed these things, I don't suffer wounds from temptation. It wasn't for nothing that Luther wrote of Satan, His craft and power are great/ And armed with cruel hate/ On earth is not his equal! Yet, perhaps I can smell the wave coming from farther off, and look to my moorings.

- Thomas a Kempis writes, "There is no man completely free from temptations as long as he lives, because the source of temptation is in ourselves. In that we were born of sinful desire, one temptaton or tribulation passes and another is on its way, and we shall always have something to suffer, for we have lost the boon of original felicity. Mnay seek to escape temptations and more grievously fall into them. We cannot win by flight alone; but by patience and true humility we are made stronger than our foes."

In other words, your points of temptation are not likely to go away altogether. If you love food and are a glutton, you will likely be a glutton all your days, though it is not unheard of for God to remove desires. The fruit of your temptation does not have to ripen, however. If you know how to recognise the buds, you can remove them early, but if the stem is become especially tough and will not yield to your effort, there is One Whom you may call for assistance, and the earlier the better, I say. He promises to come to your aid:

My soul melts from heaviness; Strengthen me according to Your word. Psalm 119:28

I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. John 17:15

For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, Ephesian 3: 14-16.

Persist! More tomorrow.

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