One of the most universal experiences shared around the world is temptation, but each person is tempted in their own unique way. Scripture reveals many of the ways we are tempted and gives us a firm foundation to know how we are supposed to respond when we face difficult situations. Regardless of who you are, or what stage of life you are in, 1 Corinthians 10:12-14 assures us that we all face a common struggle, and that struggle can be won. Temptation is just one part of the battle we face with sin on a daily basis. It stems from our desires and culminates in a decision, but ultimately, it is a situation that gives us the opportunity for tears or triumph. James 1:14-15 reveals that temptation in itself is not sin, rather, it is a mirror that reveals whether or not we are aligned with God and His Word. As Christians, we are called to flee from our evil desires and pursue righteousness, but we must not grow tired of doing the right thing. Rather, we should embrace the challenge of temptation, for through our perseverance we grow into the people God has called us to be.
Even with a commitment to overcome temptation, our doubts and the enemy’s deception make it difficult to know what to do in many situations. While Scripture provides us with direction and outlines specific sins, my favorite definition of sin comes from a letter Susanna Wesley wrote to her son John Wesley in 1725:
“Take this rule: whatever weakens your reason, impairs the tenderness of your conscience, obscures your sense of God, or takes off your relish of spiritual things; in short, whatever increases the strength and authority of your body over your mind, that thing is sin to you, however innocent it may be in itself.”
Furthermore, James 4:17 says, “If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.” When we face temptations and difficult decisions, rather than justifying an option that is good enough, we should strive to draw closer to God and seek out what is best for everyone, not just ourselves. Throughout our lives, we will certainly face temptations, but we must not give up, and we must remember that Jesus has already conquered sin. As we overcome temptations, we move closer to God, and we develop the skills and habits we will need to face the next challenge. So don’t shy away from difficult choices, for those choices will not only shape your future, but also the very person you are.