Understanding Sin’s Temptations
The Devil is able, without our planned forethought, to inject into our minds distracting, tempting, sinful thoughts. It’s obvious that with TV programming and advertisements, and the imternet, our culture of sexuality; and women’s dress today (“undress” to be more accurate) there’s plenty of provocation to temptation in our thoughts. But some thoughts simply seem to come out of the blue. Knowledgeable and alert Christians should know what these thoughts are and from whence they come.
“Be well balanced (temperate, sober of mind), be vigilant and cautious at all times; for that enemy of yours, the devil, roams around like a lion roaring [in fierce hunger], seeking someone to seize upon and devour.” (1 Peter 5:8 (AMP)
The sinful thoughts and accusations that are common to all men, and even Christians, are the “fiery darts” (KJV) or “flaming missiles” (AMP) of the enemy of our soul – Satan.
Paul says the members of “the body of Christ” are equipped with the “sword of the Spirit” which is the truth of the “word of God” that we stand on, and with “the shield of faith” we can “extinguish” these “fiery darts.” We can do this by maintaining faith in the truth… that we are forever counted as righteous… because we are “in Christ.”
Ephesians 6:16 (AMP) Lift up over all the [covering] SHIELD OF SAVING ‘FAITH,’ upon which YOU (the believers) CAN QUENCH (Gk. sbennymi; extinguish) ALL THE FLAMING MISSILES of the wicked [one].
As soon as we recognize such evil thoughts of Sin’s temptations and accusations we need to dismiss or ‘cast down’ such thoughts.
Realizing that we live from moment to moment we may need to recognize and cast down these thoughts over and over again … until the habit is broken by having turned our heart to Him again and again as an expression of continued faith in the truth that we are “crucified with Christ” and “he that is dead is free from Sin’s dominion” (Rom. 6:7)
Lust simply means “strong desire.” Such lustful, self-seeking, hateful, unbelieving, fearful, condemning, and ungodly thoughts can get stuck in our subconscious minds. These are what Paul calls “strong holds” (2Cor 10:4). These “strong holds” may gain a home in our mind by the repeated promptings of the Sin-nature that has established them over the years before and even after our salvation. Our wrong thinking can become habitual, through being tempted over and over. It may seem that we cannot get away from these thoughts, but we do have a way to deal with these thoughts.
Solomon wrote, Proverbs 23:7 … as he thinketh in his heart, so is he… This agrees with what I once heard Norman Grubb say; “What you take hold of will take hold of you.” E.g., if you take hold of a chair by sitting in it, it will take hold of you by supporting you, and that’s good. But conversely, if you take hold of evil, fearful, jealous, grievous or anxious thoughts, entertaining the “imaginations” that appear in your mind; then they may take hold of you as all consuming, ultimately prompting you to act on those thoughts. Our “imaginations” are “temptations” that can turn us away from the ever-present Lord within.
We can “pull down” and “take captive” evil thoughts by learning to turn our mind away from the thought to the truth of “the word of God,” “It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. (John 6:63) Thereby we are turning our heart to the Lord within us. “to be spiritually minded is life and peace.” (Rom 8:6). This single motion of turning our heart to “the word of the Lord” is simultaneously a turning away from the evil thought. Christ alone is able to save us from those thoughts in that very moment. He desires to live His righteous Christian life through us.
James here clearly outlines the progression and consequence of falling into temptation toward sin.
“Blessed is the man (of Israel) that endureth (stays true in) temptation: for when he is tried (tempted), he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him (Christ). 14 But EVERY MAN IS TEMPTED, when he is DRAWN AWAY OF HIS OWN LUST, and ENTICED. 15 Then WHEN LUST (GK., epithymia, forbidden desire) HATH CONCEIVED, IT BRINGETH FORTH SIN: and SIN, WHEN IT IS FINISHED, BRINGETH FORTH DEATH. (James 1:12, 14-15).
“Lust” here in James 1:15 (above) is defined as strong desire for what is forbidden; this includes all manner of sin; it is not limited to sexual sin. Hebrews 11:25b tells us there are “pleasures of sin for a season.” All manner of “sins of the flesh” (Col 2:11) are manifested as result of a person going along with or giving into whatever the temptation.
Here we summarize James’ four-step process leading to actualizing sin that begins in the mind.
1) A spontaneous “temptation” arises as a thought in the mind.
2) Being “tempted,” we may be “drawn away,” “enticed,” due the “lust” of the “Sin in the flesh” (Rom 8:3)
3) When “lust” is conceived it usually culminates in an act of sinning against what we know as “truth.” These thoughts are contrary to our true identity “in Christ”
4) Then, with the act os sin, we bear the first consequence of “sinning,” falling into the “condemnation of the Devil, (as the accuser)” (1Tim 3:6).
5) This brings ‘spiritual death,’ we feel hopelessly cut off and distant from God and those around us. This all because we of ourselves chose to turn away from… valuing our grace-union with Christ in our spirit more than anything this earthy life has to offer.
Yet know this, even in our sin, our ‘position’ is still “in Christ” and the Lord Jesus never leaves us or ceases to love us unconditionally. If we trust, Him He will lead us out of the quagmire we fell into.
We need to turn our heart again to Him, recognizing that Sin is not of our true identity in Christ… but that Sin is the very nature of Satan manifested as “Sin in the flesh” (Rom. 8:3).