God Is for Us
When we come to faith in Jesus Christ and the bonds of sin are broken, a number of things become true of us immediately. We are transferred from death to life and indwelt by God’s Spirit. We’re placed within His family. We are redeemed, changed, and born again. Sin no longer reigns in our lives.
It does, however, remain.
In trusting Christ, we are not living a life of ease whereby we are exempt from attacks from the Evil One or the subtle tendencies of our own hearts. Instead, from the point of conversion through to the point of seeing Christ and being made like Him, the Christian is involved in “a continual and irreconcilable war” against temptation.
Scripture is full of warnings about temptation: that enticement to sin and evil that we all experience. Temptation is not simply the lure of things which are wild and unthinkable, but the impulse to take good things which God has given us and use (or misuse) them in a way that sins against God. In The Screwtape Letters, C.S. Lewis alludes to this subtlety of sin when Screwtape urges his apprentice devil to “encourage the humans to take the pleasures which our Enemy [namely, God] has produced, at times, or in ways, or in degrees, which He has forbidden.”
Scripture is clear that God is never and cannot be the source of temptation. When James says that “God … tempts no one,” he has built his statement on God’s character. God is incapable of tempting others to evil because He Himself is insusceptible to it. Tempting others to evil would require a delight in evil which God does not possess.
The word translated “tempt” can also be rendered “test.” So what our fallen nature might turn into a temptation to sin is also a test that can strengthen our faith. When we face a time of testing, which God allows, we should remember that His purpose is not our failure but our benefit. The devil longs for us to fail, but God longs for us to succeed. He is for us, and He is working all things, even trials and temptations, for our good.
So what temptations are you regularly doing battle with (or giving in to)? Learn to see those as temptations but also as opportunities—as moments to choose obedience, to please your Father, to grow to be more like Christ—to gain a victory in your ongoing war. “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7).
Called to Be Holy
13Therefore, preparing your minds for action,1 and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 14As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, 15but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” 17And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one's deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, 18knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, 19but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. 20He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you 21who through him are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.
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