Temptation is an overwhelming force that we addicts have to deal with in sobriety and recovery. It can be next to impossible for us to see it as positive, but surprisingly, temptation is often shown in a positive light in the Bible. There are three particular things I want to look at regarding temptation. In this post, we will look at enduring temptation.
First, though, it is important to understand that temptation itself is not sin. The Lord Jesus Christ was tempted but sinless throughout His entire life.
“For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15, emphasis added).
“Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him” (James 1:12).
Already we see that temptation is associated with blessing, which is counter-intuitive on the surface. But consider the word endure and think of endurance sports. I am an avid cyclist and some of my most memorable rides are those that have long climbs that test my strength and build endurance. Sure, I like to be dropped off and ride a tail wind back home, but it is the accomplishment of a hilly ride with long, steep climbs that gives me the most satisfaction and confidence as a cyclist.
Your doctor would consider endurance a healthy thing, something to strive for. It means that you are strong, resistant to illness and injury, and have energy and stamina. But it takes exercise and resistance on the body to produce endurance. It will take time and effort to build up the strength you need to consistently endure temptation. Get the “endurance training” you need through the 12-step program, your sponsor, and your walk with the Lord Jesus Christ.
The Bible tells us to “gird up the loins of your mind,” which means to be disciplined about what we think about and the thoughts we entertain. “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” Be consistent in reading and listening to the Bible and avoid things that plant negative thoughts in your mind; for example, talk radio and the news.
There is a reward for endurance in the realm of temptation: the crown of life. When we resist temptation, we receive the benefits of a vital and healthy life. A crown is something worn on the head that everyone can see. The spiritual and mental health that comes from enduring temptation will be evident to others.
“But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death” (James 1:14, 15).
We know this part all too well. Giving in to temptation brings death. Our addiction has already brought us death: death to relationships and marriages, death to our self-worth, death to purity, death to freedom. Some will experience physical death and the unsaved will experience eternal death.
The crown of life is one of God’s sure and precious promises. And it comes through the door of temptation. Verse 12 says when you are tried, not if you are tried. Temptation is a common part of the human experience—we may as see it as the Bible presents it: a positive means for gaining endurance and life.
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