James 1:13 NLT
And remember, when you are being tempted, do not say, ‘God is tempting me.’ God is never tempted to do wrong, and he never tempts anyone else.
Temptation was always something I imagined would recede with the passing of the years. This may have been the arrogance of youth gazing upon my ageing parents and their friends and deciding surely nothing might tempt such tame people. Or, once a Christian, I assumed temptation faded as Christian maturity advanced. Whatever my reasoning, it was severely flawed. Temptation remains alive and well, and the mind its perpetual battleground.
TV news broadcasts pictures of towns ravaged by war. Buildings demolished, scattered masonry making roads impassable, vehicles burnt out. Well, this is a snapshot of my mind as it battles with temptation – from inappropriate sexual images to a narcissistic appetite for untold wealth, from thinking the worst for my neighbour to devising unholy schemes for personal advantage. This battle is no less intense today than when I entered upon the Way of Christ.
Temptation is always unrealised desire seeded within the mind and nurtured by an insatiable appetite to try it. Temptation isn’t removed through penance and an ascetic approach to life. Such actions are to deepen our love for God, not to repress our inner, uncontrolled desires. It can only be addressed by interrupting the sequence that moves from an initial, pressing thought, to full-blown action. It is that action that impacts upon the other, upon creation and on me, the actor, always with negative consequences.
God is never the source of such harmful desires. In recent days I have really begun to take my own thought-life seriously and recognised it is a discipline. When desire enters and seeks to captivate my brain, then I must seek to acknowledge the wayward thought and, however attractive, direct my attention elsewhere; anywhere, in fact, that is away from the initial desire.
QUESTION: Which temptations do you find hardest to resist? How can you collaborate with the spirit in directing your mind to a different train of thought?
PRAYER: Lord, I know there is no hiding or running from you. Help me reckon myself dead to sin and alive to Christ.