Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Temptation

I've been sitting on this post for a while, but the time has come to let it out into the world. No real reason why I'm doing it today, just finished it and feel like publishing something worthwhile for once.

What is temptation? Why is temptation inherently evil? Is there a way to overcome temptation while still reaping the benefits of the situation? Why are we taught to resist temptation?

I begin with a definition-
tempt (v): 1. to entice to do wrong by promise of pleasure or gain; 2. to cause to be strongly inclined; 3. to be attractive or inviting.

So the word itself has a negative connotation by the first definition... but is all temptation bad? Should we really resist all temptation? I argue no, never tempt fate, and some other stuff.

Is the act of tempting in itself sinful? Or is the act of being tempted sinful? Perhaps the sinful part is the sin with which one is being tempted. Example: Is it wrong to be tempted to drive too fast? No, this is normal. Is it wrong to tempt someone else to drive too fast? Maybe. Is it wrong to actually drive too fast? Certainly. But what harm comes of driving too fast on open, empty, straight roads in broad daylight with no obstructions? What harm comes of driving fast on a motor speedway? There is a time and place for driving fast without the threat of sin.

To be tempted is not evil. To be tempted is to be human. We are all tempted by something sooner or later. I'm frequently tempted by all sorts of things. If the temptation has consequences, I try to figure out what those may be, and then I decide if the consequences are worth the action. Generally, yes, they are. :) My relationship with God is strong and true. In the face of death, so often I have been angry, but even when I am unhappy with the way things go, I retain my faith. I don't need fancy prayers to tell God I'm not pleased with His ways... He knows. And I don't need to tell him thanks for something positive, though often I will. I trust Him. And I trust Him to not lead me astray. I trust myself as well to make the right decisions for me regarding my own life.

1 Cor 10:16:
But remember that the temptations that come into your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will keep the temptation from becoming so strong that you can't stand up against it. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you will not give in to it.

James 1:13-14:
13 And remember, no one who wants to do wrong should ever say, "God is tempting me." God is never tempted to do wrong, and he never tempts anyone else either. 14 Temptation comes from the lure of our own evil desires.

But what if our desires are not EVIL? What if we want things that are pure and true, but still tempting? At what point does "like" become "love"? Where does the line between passion and sin fall?

It is wrong to worship any idols, including material possessions, yet we are so tempted to put more faith in that which we can touch than in something we cannot see. To prize what we have been given is wrong.

I have many questions and few answers, but I am young and learning. As for now, my motto is good: Resist what is truly evil, not that which you were meant to enjoy. To murder, to plunder, to pillage and wrath, these things are evil. To love, to enjoy each day, to live honestly and safely without reservation of action, this I will do.

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