The Anatomy of Temptation ~

James 1:13 “Let no one say when he is tempted, I am being tempted by God, for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. 14. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. 15. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.”

Gal. 5:17 “ For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. 24 those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us walk in step with the Spirit.”

Luke 22:44 “And being in agony he prayed more earnestly…’’

2 Cor 5:9 NIV “So we make it our goal to please him…”

A few thoughts to hold ~ All temptation is common to man. You will be tempted.  It’s NOT coming from God. Temptation is NOT sin.  

There is an anatomy to temptation which we find described in James chapter one. All temptation comes when we are lured - enticed by our OWN desires. KJV reads lusts.  The Greek renders it; a longing, (especially for what is forbidden). Thayers’ definition add craving and desire for things forbidden. These lusts, or cravings, or longings give entrance to the temptation.  

Notice the word ‘lured’ from James.  It’s the idea of appealing, something’s viewed as attractive.  It’s enticing and always attracts an appetite that can only be denied by being crucified. Those who belong to Christ have crucified the flesh with its passion and desires.   We live this out on a daily basis by and through the Spirit.  We live by the Spirit and we keep in step with the Spirit who is the only one that can enable us to overcome the flesh.  

Things are conceived before seen.  After conception you can begin to see “signs” of what is taking place. Once something is birthed, it’s visible to all. Fully grown it yields a life of its own.  

Negative thoughts held, unknown to others, left to be meditated on, produce the strongholds that reshape our thinking. David always says just because we think it, doesn’t mean it’s true.  Naturally, there are tell tale signs of pregnancy.  While we might not “see” a physical baby yet we have symptoms that tell us we are pregnant.  Even so spiritually, we find thoughts left unchecked work to reshape what we believe which begin to show up in our attitudes, words and actions. 

We are told to take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ and that means measure the thought against the word.  Ask the question, what does God think about this?  Am I in agreement with God here?  Does this activity or desire measure up to the character and nature of Jesus? 

Jesus tempted, in an agony, prays earnestly.  Even when our desire is to live to please the Lord, the willingness to engage in the battle to overcome the flesh is still pressed.  If our flesh and mind are stronger than the working of the Spirit within (the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak) we will find a way to follow the enticement. We will embrace it as we convince ourselves that this thought, action, this choice will not hurt us and birth sin.  This one act left unchallenged, unrepented from, works to grow up and destroy us…fully grown sin (one that controls and dominates thoughts and flesh) brings forth death.    

I suppose the only good thing about temptation is that it does reveal what is lurking to  lure us away.  Philippians tells us to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling.  Once we are aware of the thing pulling at us - it’s just a matter of entering into the place of working with the Spirit and word to overcome the temptation. There are some things we will never overcome without practicing the same kind of prayerful engagement Jesus displayed.  I imagine Jesus’ temptation came with great torment, (an agony) assaulted with lies to doubt everything he knew and declared about who he was and his purpose and could only be overcome through his engagement with the Spirit. 

We aren’t just looking for a place of relief, we are looking for the place of total victory that enters into rest.  Temptations are common to life but if we will live a life of daily denial regarding our flesh, holding our minds to the word of God, our Spirit then readily engages with the Holy Spirit and we truly are able to walk in a place of freedom and rest and we could potentially say like Jesus, tempted, yes, but without sin. 

Let us all press into this high calling.