About 500 years ago, Thomas a Kempis wrote the following words about Resisting Temptation in his devotional book entitled The Imitation of Christ:
“Above all, we must be especially alert against the beginnings of temptation, for the enemy is more easily conquered if he is refused admittance to the mind and is met beyond the threshold when he knocks. Someone has said very aptly: “Resist the beginnings; remedies come too late, when by long delay the evil has gained strength.” First, a mere thought comes to mind, then strong imagination, followed by pleasure, evil delight, and consent. Thus, because he is not resisted in the beginning, Satan gains full entry. And the longer a man delays in resisting, so much the weaker does he become each day, while the strength of the enemy grows against him.*”
This reminds me of what both Paul and James wrote:
“Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil.”(Ephesians 4:26–27 ESV)
“Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.” (James 1:13–15 ESV)
When temptation comes our way, let us remember these things:
- GOD does not tempt us: If what we desire is contrary to GOD, it is not from GOD.
- We are not to give the devil any opportunity to lead us to sin. We must resist temptation. If we submit ourselves to GOD and resist the devil in the strength that GOD gives us, then the devil will flee. (James 4:7)
- Don’t be so quick to scream,”the devil made me do it.” It is true that he and his demons are at work in the world and are battling to keep people from GOD, but we are at fault here too. He does not tempt us with things we are not attracted to, but places in front of us the choicest bait, that which we are drawn to in our own desires.
- We are to resist temptation. This is an active choice and action on our part. I’m not just repeating myself here. We must understand that while it is true that no one is good apart from GOD (Romans 3:10), if we are in Christ (are you?) then we have not only been made right before GOD (Justified) but we are called to take part, to cooperate in GOD’s work in us to become more like his son (sanctification) Eph 4:22-24. This is not working to earn our salvation, it it the fruit of it.
- We can not be perfect now, but when he comes for us and we see him face to face, we will be made like him (1John 3:2). Until then let us remember when we sin to confess it, to put off that sin, and put on the righteousness of GOD (1 John 1:9, Eph 4:22-24). This means remembering that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus and allowing him to change the way we think (Romans 8:1-6, Romans 12:1-2). This is done by finding more value in him that in the fruit of disobedience (Psalm 37:4-6).
*Thomas à Kempis, The Imitation of Christ (trans. Aloysius Croft and Harold Bolton; Accordance electronic ed. Altamonte Springs: OakTree Software, n.p.