HomeOpinionDooley Noted:  Our common problem

Dooley Noted:  Our common problem

The small town of Centralia, Pennsylvania is dying. Literally. A place that used to be home to over 1000 residents reported a population of just five people in the 2020 census. But why are people fleeing the quaint community? For years the town has been home to several underground coal mines. Unexpectedly, in 1962, a fire began in one of those mines that is still aflame today. Beneath the surface, a hidden inferno is still consuming a particularly slow burning type of coal that experts expect to burn for another 250 years! Both the depth and the heat of the fire make it impossible to put out.

As a result, there are hot spots, buckled highways, and parched grass. Most of the buildings in Centralia have already collapsed. Residents permitted to stay are under a court order not to pass their property down to the next generation. The fire and gases are destroying everything good about the hidden borough three hours west of New York City.

Temptation is like that. Deep within all of us at an unseen level there is a burning desire to rebel against God. The fires of enticement want to consume everything good and holy in your life, sometimes even resulting in an abandoned walk with God. No matter how hard we try, the fires of temptation will burn throughout the entirety of our lives. 

Most people respond to temptation in one of three ways. Some will just give in to it and reason, “If it feels good do it!” Others will fight hard against it but repeatedly lose the battle. These are those who yield to sin, feel guilty for doing so, and vow to never succumb again, only to renege hours or days later. But some will overcome temptation by the grace of Jesus Christ. Obviously, most want to be in the latter category. But how do we get there? Let me suggest three realities about temptation we must recognize in order to be victorious.

YOU WILL ENCOUNTER TEMPTATION

The Bible says in 1 Cor. 10:13a: No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man. That means all people everywhere will face temptation. We need to admit that none of us are exempt from the allurement of sin. Furthermore, temptation in and of itself is not sinful if we do not yield to it.

  • Adam and Eve were tempted in the Garden of Eden.
  • Israel was tempted in the wilderness.
  • David was tempted in the palace.
  • Peter was tempted in Jerusalem.
  • Even Jesus was tempted in the desert.

The commonness of temptation also means that our temptations are not unique. Regardless of how we feel, there is nothing new under the sun. You are not the only person who in the history of the world who has struggled with whatever is seducing your heart.

GOD CALLS EACH OF US TO ENDURE TEMPTATION

The Bible goes on to say that God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it (1 Cor. 10:13b). We often mistakenly assume that those who do not give into temptation know nothing of its power. The opposite is really true. Those who surrender to temptation the most actually know the least about the full burden and challenge it brings. We yield to what pulls our heart away from God because of the desire to find relief from our struggle. When we resist, though, the battle persists with annoyances that do not go away. Yet, this is the narrow road God calls believers to walk. We won’t always succeed in our efforts, but victory rather than defeat should be the pattern of our lives.

YOU CAN ESCAPE TEMPTATION

If we are to endure in faith, we should always be looking for the way escape when we are tempted. The idea is not the God will help us to avoid temptations, but that He will walk with us through them, helping us to persevere. Sometimes we give the false impression that if a Christian loves God, all their previous worldly inclinations will immediately disappear. While some experience that kind of dramatic deliverance, what is more common is the daily battle to resist lifestyles that on contrary to God’s design.

The way of escape is trusting God who promises to help us overcome. It means allowing the Lord, not the culture, to define right and wrong for us. It means that sometimes we run away from people, situations, or circumstances that cause us to stumble. It means we proactively fill our minds with Scripture, remind ourselves of the gospel, and seek the Lord in prayer. It means that we remind ourselves how vulnerable we are and continually pledge our hearts to Christ. The question is not will God provide a way of escape to prevent our waywardness, but will we be looking for it instead?

Dr Adam B. Dooley is pastor of Englewood Baptist Church in Jackson, TN, and author of Hope When Life Unravels. Contact him at adooley@ebcjackson.org. Follow him on Twitter @AdamBDooley.

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